President Buhari has finally spoken out about Isa Pantami’s alleged terrorism ties, pledging not to fire the embattled minister.

President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that he will not fire Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, for previous comments in support of terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

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This online news site understands that President Buhari made this known in a statement released by his Special Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Thursday titled “Statement by the Presidency on a recent campaign against the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.”

Pantami’s ordeal at the hands of those calling for his dismissal, he said, was about his current job as a minister, not his previous utterances.

Pantami’s explanation that he was young when he made those statements and that his position had since changed was backed up by Buhari.

 

“Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that holds leaders in politics, religion, and civil society accountable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago they made it, and even if they later rejected it,” the statement read.

“This pernicious phenomenon seeks to derail other people’s careers based on something they said, regardless of when they said it.

“Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is currently the target of a ‘cancel movement’ launched by those seeking his expulsion.

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“They don’t give a damn about what he may or may not have said 20 years ago; that’s just the tool they’re using to try to ‘cancel’ him. They will benefit, however, if he is prevented from making decisions that will improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

“To his credit, the Minister has apologised for what he said in the early 2000s. His opinions were unacceptably radical at the time, and they would be just as unacceptably radical today if he repeated them. He will not repeat them, however, because he has officially and permanently denounced his previous statements as false.

“The Minister was a young man in his twenties in the 2000s; he will be 50 next year. People and their opinions change over time, and this is often for the better.

“However, astute Nigerians recognise, this fabricated controversy has little to do with the Minister’s previous statements, but rather with his current conduct.

“The administration is committed to ensuring that Minister Pantami and all Nigerian people obtain fair care, fair rates, and fair security in the ICT sector.”

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 centres 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.

“Minister Pantami has pushed the contribution of the ICT sector to GDP to more than 18 per cent in two short years, making it one of the top two, playing a critical role in the economy’s emergence from the COVID 19-induced recession,” he added.

“The minister and this government have made enemies by putting people first. Those in the opposition see momentum and want it to be stopped at all costs. And there is now well-reported evidence that newspaper editors rejected an effort by some ICT firms to financially bribe them to run a propaganda campaign against the minister, even though many of them stand to lose money as a result of lower rates and stronger consumer protections.

“The government is now investigating the veracity of these allegations of attempted inducement, and police and judicial action must be expected if they are found to be true.”

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