Presidency frees Pantami of terrorism support

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The Presidency may have ruled out the possibility of sacking the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami over his past support for terrorist groups in the world.

A statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu noted that Pantami’s ordeals were not about his past utterances but about his current job as a minister.

He said the embattled minister was young when he made those statements and that his position had since changed adding that the recent calls for the sack or resignation of the minister is being sponsored by the opposition and some unnamed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies.

Pantami, an Islamic cleric, has been in the eye of the storm for the past two weeks after videos resurfaced online showing he supported, over a decade ago, extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Many Nigerians called for his resignation or his sack based on the statements.

The minister later admitted making the controversial statements but said his views on such groups have changed. He also said he was being targeted for attack by people uncomfortable with his policies as the communication minister. His explanation did not, however, satisfy many Nigerians who insisted on his removal, while many others declared support for him.

According to the statement, Pantami made enemies because he tried to put Nigeria first and had initiated plans and policies that would profit the public.

It, however, noted that though the comments for which Pantami is being tried were wrong and in bad taste, it, however, pointed out that the minister had repented from the views and also apologized, adding that they were youthful errors.

“Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.

“This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.

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“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, is currently subject to a ‘cancel campaign’ instigated by those who seek his removal.

“They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago; that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to ‘cancel’ him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.

“The minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.”