After all said and done, we are all guilty for what happened. We should all share in the blame that a person like Isa Pantami rose to become a minister of the Federal Republic. It should not always be about brilliance, but character and good conscience. No matter how brilliant a person may be, without character and conscience, he is nothing. Pantami did not descend from the moon, he came from among us.
It is certain then that many people must know him and what he stands for. These are the people he interacted and still interacts with. It is easy to blame others and not ourselves when things like this happen. Reason: it is difficult to believe what we hear or see. We wonder then why people kept quiet in the first instance when they knew the truth. Did they keep quiet for altruistic reasons? Did they keep quiet in order not to be accused of envy? Did they keep quiet for the fear of their lives?
Pantami did not just happen on us. As a brilliant young scholar, people flocked to him. The young and old courted him; he was the teacher and preacher of the time. They believed every word that poured forth from his mouth and were ready to do whatever he said. That is where the danger lies. His ability to rouse fanatics, who see themselves as the most faithful of all, to pick up the cudgel against others who they describe as infidels. Pantami was a fiery preacher and he is still as aggressive as ever. You should have seen him in the early days of the ongoing linking of the National Identity Number (NIN) to the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM). He was quick to anger over the simple question that the people were not given ample notice about the exercise. A dead giveaway trait of people of his ilk.
The fiery preacher in him took over as he abandoned decorum to accuse the same people who pay his salary for their tardiness about Project NIN to SIM. It is now obvious why he is in so much hurry about the exercise. He could have made his point without being combative and abusive. Even, the media was not spared. But that is not his style, that is not his character. He is used to the old aggressive way of mallams, who believe that you must always do things in a crude and rude manner in order to achieve results. I hate to call people out on the basis of their faith. I am forced to do so in this circumstance because the person of Pantami cannot be separated from his faith, or if you like, his religion.
Now that he has been exposed for who he truly is, he wants to renounce his past. But he is doing it half-heartedly. He is doing it for bread and butter. He is doing it in order to hold on to the high office of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, a post he should not have been appointed to if all of us had been vigilant. May be we were all under his spell. There is nothing ideologues like him cannot do. As a die-hard mullah, it is easy for him to use his powers to cast spell on people in order to get what he wants. Was this what happened in the case of his appointment, first, as director-general, Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and later as, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy?
By their fruits, you shall know them. As a fiery preacher, he rallied his flock to war. He spoke in support of terrorists and terrorism. He saw nothing wrong in standing by Al Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Boko Haram and other fundametalist groups, which stock-in-trade is the waging of war, which they try to justify as Jihad to make it acceptable. These are the groups which give Islam and good Muslims a bad name. These are the groups he associates with. Being well read, Pantami should know better. But he used his education the wrong way. He used it to spew hatred and bigotry under the guise of propagating Islam. He used it to point the gullible to the path of perfidy. He used it to create problems in the Northeast where he hails from as can be seen from what Boko Haram is doing in that region today. That was not Islamic propagation, it was a battle cry and the weak in mind was roused to kill and maim.
A student lost his life to Pantami’s extremist views. Many today are members of the Boko Haram sect, which has been wreaking havoc on the Northeast, because of his preachings. His views are as strong and provocative today as they were then. Just listen to him speak on NIN registration and you will know that he is not fit to hold public office, notwithstanding his education. Education does not confer wisdom; it does not confer gumption; it only opens our mind to others’ views and makes us tolerant of them. For President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to keep Patanmi as a minister is akin to having a fire on our roof and going to sleep. Pantami constitutes a clear and present danger as long as he remains in office. It is time for him to go.
But the preacher turned politician wants to retain his job badly. When news of his excesses first broke, he threatened to go to court and was able to get the publication to retract the story and apologise to him. When things became too hot to handle, he lost his mojo. The fiery preacher became a jelly and took back all that he said in the past. He said they happened when he was young and now that he is old, he knows better. Iro nla (big lie). In one word, he is pleading to be asked to go and sin no more. He wants to be given the chance which he did not give that student who was killed years ago through his fault. Does he deserve that chance? That is for the security people to say.
One thing is sure though. People like him should never be allowed to find their way to public office again. In this wise, we all must be vigilant and be ready to speak up whenever anyone with a tainted past is nominated as minister. ‘If you see something, say something’, to borrow what has become this administration’s mantra. It is is not the job of the security agencies and the lawmakers alone to check out ministerial nominees, it is our collective duty. If we do not do our job as citizens, someone worse than Pantami may end up being president one day. And we all know what that means.
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