Pantami: Buhari never pretends or disappoints

By Sunny Igboanugo on 23/04/2021

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President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t pretend, neither does he disappoint. If he has failed in anything else, as he has obviously done in the last six years or so in the saddle as the number one Nigerian citizen, he has not failed to maintain this particular record.

Two things have become quite evident to strengthen this fact – his love for his Fulani ethnic group and his hatred for the Igbo. They are two elements that define his whole essence as a strong-willed, stubborn advocate and enforcer of his belief(s), as an individual and as a President.

He may apply Takiya on other issues and in other areas, such as humbling himself before the power brokers that helped him come to power and stooping to conquer before Nigerians to endorse him. But not in the issue of how he favours the Fulani man, or a Muslim and the manner he does the direct opposite to the Igbo.

Which other President in the history of Nigeria has attempted what Buhari has done with his ethnic Fulani tribe? None has come even close. Not even his own fellow Fulani Presidents like the late Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar’Adua. Buhari simply takes the cake in undiluted parochialism and extreme nepotism.

Before Buhari, nobody knows that a President could appoint virtually all security heads, from the army to the police to the prisons, immigrations, customs, civil defence, intelligence agency, National Security Adviser, Minister of Defence, from the same zone and almost the same religion and the heavens will not fall. But the President, has proved that.

For years now, Nigerians had continued to cry about the menace of Fulani herdsmen, who have been rampaging the nation, killing, kidnapping, destroying farmlands and raping women, without even as little consequence as a tap on the wrist.

Before now, other Presidents, North or South, had at least pretended to somewhat level of nationalism and distanced themselves from ethnic jingoist tag. For instance, when Gani Adams began his aggressive campaigns in the wake of his leadership of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then in charge, did not waste time to order his arrest.

It took the intervention of some key Yoruba leaders, to water the hard ground, before the youth leader, now the Aare Onokakanfo was freed from detention. The rest is now history. But, by that singular act, Obasanjo, had discharged himself from the tag of an ethnic leader.

The jury is out as to the extent the Boko Haram would have gone, were the late Yar’Adua alive to run through his eight years. First, it was under Yar’Adua that Abubakar Yusuf, the leader of the extremist group was killed. It was under his government that their headquarters was destroyed and the members hunted down and dealt with decisively, before death came, calling. His determination to exterminate the group, was not in doubt.

The sudden transformation of Fulani herdsmen, an otherwise, benign, pleasant and accommodating set of people, have not only lost their innocence, but have become the major headache Nigeria is having today, all because they have a pliant patron, who have decided to allow them break the door with their legs.

Just imagine the opportunity that has again been wasted. Even a political imbecile, would know that having admitted to his past sentiments towards the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist group, Isa Pantami, should not have stayed more than a day longer in office after that odious revelation.

It would have been a strong statement, not only to Nigerians but the entire world to rekindle that long-forgotten statement of I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody line in his 2015 inaugural address, which earned him a lot of accolades at the beginning of his government.   

But not Buhari! That stiff-necked, stubborn will to implement the them-and-us philosophy of his government can neither be whittled down nor sacrificed for any other interest or argument. The tragedy of a nation!

So, what do we have? For a man who was quoted as saying that he was always happy when infidels (unbelievers) are killed and who did not deny it, but only rationalised to plead repentance, it is okay to move on.

Of course, there was no attempt to convince Nigerians that the man in question is a changed man outside that he had said so. Or was there? Please try to find any pointer to address the major fears of Nigeria in the statement of Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesman, in case I missed it.

Here is the full statement: “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, 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. 

“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. 

“This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends. 

“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.

“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.

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

This was all Nigerians got for days of agitation and fear over their safety for a man handling the sensitive job of recording their individual personal data and those of their families.

Instead, those slated for the hammer, are some imaginary culprits, accused of going after the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, because he was doing a great job of stopping their garri. 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. Of course, that is the aspect that would make Nigerians pick up stones and throw to the telecommunication giants and forget the real danger.

Long ago, many Nigerians have concluded that Buhari’s government is highly insensitive and lacks integrity. For those still in doubt, how else will they be convinced. But I’m sure as the fura and suya are being passed around at the Villa this evening, the singular refrain would be – Integrity my foot! Who integrity epp?






Posted on April, 23 2021

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