Buhari’s administration firmly behind Pantami – Presidency - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

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Thursday, 22 April 2021

Buhari’s administration firmly behind Pantami – Presidency

By Our Correspondent

The Presidency may have ruled out the prospect of firing Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, for previous statements supporting militant organizations such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Pantami’s ordeal at the hands of those asking for his dismissal, the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday, was not about his past utterances but about his present job as a minister.
 
Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, released a statement titled “Statement by the Presidency on recent campaign against the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.”

The Presidency agreed with the troubled minister’s claim that he was young at the time he made those remarks and that his stance had since changed.

It stated that the minister would never make such comments again after condemning and apologizing for them.

The statement read, “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.
 
“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, apologised 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.

“In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.

“But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.

“The administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.”

Shehu stated that the Buhari administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians, including ensuring that they are not overcharged or underprotected for services that are essential to modern life.

He said that the embattled minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has transformed the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centers to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; and he has changed policy to ensure that locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, beginning with the Department of Defense.

He continued, “In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.

“In putting people first, the minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means. And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections.

“The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.”