Calls for Pantami’s Sack has Nothing to Do with his Past Utterances, Presidency Says
The calls for the resignation or sack of Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has nothing to do with his his past condemnable utterances but with his present actions in government.
President Buhari’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu said in a press release on Thursday that the minister has been “leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected.
“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.”
According to Shehu all the above constitute the reason some telecommunication operators in Nigeria wanted the minister “canceled”.
He said Pantami’s previous views have been later rejected by him, and should be left in the past.
“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”, Shehu wrote.
He added that “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.
“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.