By Fejiro Oliver
SIR: We cannot change the goalpost at the middle of the game. We cannot cry “crucify her” when we caught a petty thief and now shout “Hosanna”, when we catch a self-confessed armed robber. If we can kick out Adesoun Kemi as a minister through public outcry, then Isa Ali Pantami must follow same unless the maxim “the voice of the people is the voice of God” has no place in Nigeria. If that is the case, we all can begin to call for the release of all armed robbers, terrorists and militants arrested by the Nigerian government.
Pantami needs no push to resign from such hallowed position. It is in his integrity and dignity to quietly tender his resignation, apologise to the nation for the global embarrassment caused us and submit himself to the State Security Service (SSS) for vetting and then undergo guidance and counseling on how to be patriotic to the nation.
For heaven sake, what is so special about Pantami that he cannot be sacked by the president? Let us concede that Buhari has the prerogative to sack a minister once he has been confirmed by the Senate. What then is special in Pantami that he must head such a sensitive position, considering his past?
The statement by the presidency is the most reckless, careless, insulting and inconsiderate. Every paragraph reeks of arrogance that tells us to go to hell. Crime has no expiry date and will never have and prosecution must take place no matter how long it takes, unless there is immediate state pardon. In the case of Pantami, the presidency is wrong to tell us that “The Minister has, rightly aplologised for what he said in the early 2000s”.
Nigerians have accepted his apology but cannot allow such a man access to their digital and personal life. The president should know that the apology is only a matter of circumstance and not because he meant it. Making excuse for what Pantami did in his early 30s is giving approval for all Nigerians to henceforth fan the embers of hate speech, terrorism and support for every evil, knowing that they will be forgiven a year to their 50th birthday.
According to Garba, those in the opposition are behind the recent “campaign against the minister by some ICT companies” and therefore “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”.
There you have it! Nigerians, be prepared for massive arrest in the coming days. The same government that is yet to direct the SSS to investigate Pantami over his comments!
Garba Shehu and the Presidency he writes for must in the word of Anna Lindh know that “Terrorism can never be accepted. We must fight it together, with methods that do not compromise our respect for the rule of law and human rights, or are used as excuse for others to do so”. To spare Pantami is to give the shout out to other terrorists’ sympathizers in their 20s and 30s that they can utter all they want and will be forgiven when they are about to clock 50 years, irrespective of what their actions must have caused the people and the nation. Buhari had a golden chance to pass a strong message that terrorism in whatever form will not be tolerated by his government using Pantami as an example.
The minister does not reflect the peaceful and non-violent nature of the Islam that we know of. He does not even epitomize the loving and welcoming character that the Izalas are known for. We will not call out our beloved Muslim brothers for the abominable sins of Pantami. Pantami just has to go and Buhari knows it. Like biblical Jonah on his way to Nineveh who was thrown into the river to save the others after confessing his sins, Pantami should also be shown the way out of the cabinet.
These little things matter…