BEFORE WE THROW PANTAMI UNDER THE BUS
By Jude Edeh-Attah
The past couple of weeks have been particularly traumatic for Dr Isa Pantami, the quintessential Minister of Communication and Digital Economy. Equally traumatized are those of us who know him in close quarters. Nothing is as harrowing as being dressed in a borrowed robe and paraded in the market square. It is distressing enough to be so paraded but being chastised by frenzied mob for adorning the robe is taking the impunity too far.
When a friend drew my attention about a week ago to a story that appeared in a couple of online news sites alleging that Isa Pantami has soft-spot for Boko Haram and that he was already on the radar of American intelligence organisations, I laughed it off. I didn’t take it serious because such ‘grandiose’ allegation had once been served my close friend by a toady fellow who was desperate to impress his paymaster. So, I almost dismissed the online reports about Pantami because for one, I know him very well. But that is not to downplay the feeling of revulsion and outright shock that can envelop one who is at the receiving end of such perfidious claim.
If you have not travelled that road before and if you have never been in the short end of the stick wielded by those who are determined to bring you down, you might want to take all the allegations against Pantami, hook, line and sinker. However, it is increasingly clear to discerning minds that the whole thing comes off as a calculated smear campaign planted by those whose economic interests are affected by his policies and orchestrated by politico-religious irredentists who saw the allegations as veritable tool in their hands to clip his soaring wings.
Just so to be clear, this intervention is not to deny the video clips or audio recordings of his preaching and past rhetoric. It is not even to paint a picture of an unblemished, unsullied and infallible man but to point out to the reader that it is not always that our pasts define our present. While I do not begrudge those who unearthed old recordings of the man’s fiery, idealistic and exuberant outings on the pulpit, I have a lot against those who are trying so hard to use his undergraduate days’ idiosyncrasies as bargaining chip to destroy him. I know of well-meaning Nigerians today who were religious, ethnic or ideological hot-heads back in the university days but are today very sober and accommodating citizens who contributing immeasurably to the development of the society today.
It is a dynamic world where old alliances and sentimental attachments do give way to new realisations. Times were when many supported a particular cause based on the exigencies of the time but as time and events unfold, they shift ground, make concessions or accommodate alternative views. United States of America for instance once supported and armed the Talibans of Afghanistan (when the later was at loggerhead with the Soviets) but today, Americans and the Talibans do not see eye to eye.
The point I’m making is that Pantami’s rhetoric during his hot-head days in the university cannot entirely define the Pantami we know today. Those who know Pantami or work with him closely will tell you that there is a world of difference between the old rhetoric being shred on social media and the pacifist Pantami who currently sits on the Federal Executive Council. They will tell you that he is such a compassionate, accommodating, kind and peaceful fellow who treats everyone around him on equal basis. Why are some people intent on throwing Dr Isa Pantami under the bus?
*Jude Edeh-Attah, a journalist, wrote in from Lugbe Abuja