The presidency has broken its silence on the controversy surrounding Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, as it relates to the latter’s past views supporting terror groups.
Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, said the Buhari administration stands by the minister, alleging that information and communications technology (ICT) companies are the ones behind calls for his removal.
Many Nigerians and groups have been asking President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Pantami after videos from the 2000s resurfaced wherein the minister was seen supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Pantami has, however, recanted his past views on the terror groups, saying his position at the time was based on his understanding as a teenager.
“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager. I started preaching when I was 13, many scholars and individuals did not understand some of the international events and therefore took some positions based on their understanding, some have come to change their positions later,” he had said.
That notwithstanding, Nigerians have continued to demand his sack, arguing that he occupies a sensitive government position.
But in a statement on Thursday, Shehu described the controversy as a “cancel campaign” targeted at Pantami.
The presidential spokesman said those who want Pantami out of office are the enemies he has made in office who have no grievances about his extremist views.
He said: “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.”
He lauded the minister for driving the contribution of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to “more than 18 percent” in two years in office.
“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.”
‘Two COVID Tests In 72 Hours’, New Protocol For Nigeria As UAE Lifts Flight Ban
The Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has released a new protocol directing travellers from Nigeria to undergo COVID-19 tests upon arrival at the airport in the United Arab Emirates.
Flights between both countries have been suspended since March over issues relating to the COVID-19 protocol.
In a press release on Saturday, the middle east country said the new measure is part of its efforts to ease inbound travel restrictions.
Passengers are also expected to have taken a COVID test 48 hours before departure, and have negative results to show for it.
According to the Dubai media office, the protocol will become effective from June 23, 2021.
“Passengers must have received a negative test result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure; UAE citizens exempted,” the new guideline reads.
“Passengers should present a negative PCR test certificate with a 0R Code from labs approved by the Nigerian Government.
“All passengers must undergo a PCR test on arrival at Dubai Airport.
“Transit passengers should comply with entry protocols of final destinations.”
Headed by @sheikhmansoor, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in #Dubai announces updates to Dubai’s travel protocols for inbound passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India, effective from Wednesday 23 June 2021.https://t.co/Zfma4YWugQ pic.twitter.com/NkhIzaQwzI
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) June 19, 2021
The federal government had been in talks with the authorities of the UAE over the travel protocol put in place against Nigeria in the wake of the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Emirates Airline had directed that travellers taking off from Nigeria must conduct rapid COVID-19 tests before departure, but the federal government had banned outbound Emirates flights for violating the directive of the presidential task force (PTF) on rapid antigen tests.
The ban was lifted after the airline agreed to stop the rapid antigen tests. It was later reintroduced on March 15, with the federal government explaining that the airline had continued to conduct rapid antigen tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria.
Thereafter, in March, the UAE embassy in Abuja announced a new COVID-19 travel protocol for Nigeria as part of measures to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.
Passengers who had been in or transited through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days before travelling to Dubai were barred from entering the middle east country.
Arewa vs IPOB: Northern Youths Reports Irokotv App On Play Store After Google Removed Adamu Garba’s Crowwe App
After several Northern youths targeted Jason Njoku’s Irokotv app on Playstore in retribution for the removal of Adamu Garba’s Crowwe app, a Nigerian man contacted the company’s owner, Jason Njoku.
This happened just days after Google banned Adamu Garba’s Crowwe App due to a copyright infringement by the social media company.
Remember that Adamu Garba, the CEO of Crowwe App, backed the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria following the federation’s ban on the social media platform.
He also made fun of Twitter, advising Nigerians to use his own social media app instead. However, numerous Nigerians complained and gave his app negative reviews, prompting its removal.
In revenge for Crowwe’s expulsion, Northern youths have mobilized to begin reporting Igbo-owned mobile apps. Jason Njoku’s iRokoTV and Softtalk messaging are among the apps listed.
Obasanjo Contributed To Nigeria’s Crisis, He Should Mind His Utterances —– Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says former President Olusegun Obasanjo contributed to the current chaos in the country, adding that the ex-military general should mind his utterances.
He stated this on Friday in a piece titled, ‘Nigeria’s Unity And All The Iberiberism’.
Adesina wrote, “The saber-rattling about Nigeria’s unity and the possibility of disintegration has got to the point of Iberiberism (an Igbo word which could mean stupidity). Some people have no other business than doomsday predictions of a crumbled, collapsed Nigeria, as if they actually fast and pray for that eventuality.
“When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President between 1999 and 2007, they predicted that he was going to be the last President of a united Nigeria. It didn’t happen. When Umaru Yar’Adua came, they said he was too sick to hold Nigeria together. The country stood.
“Under Goodluck Jonathan, they said the man was too weak, and different components of the country would soon say, ‘to your tents oh Israel.’ Nigeria survived. And for six years under Muhammadu Buhari, they have not changed their songs. The Somaliasation of Nigeria was on the way. The Fulanisation of the country would be the final death knell. But Nigeria lives. It trudges on from day to day, month to month, and will surely survive.”
Adesina said though some people dwell on negativity, “some fathers of the land will not fold their hands and see Nigeria go down”.
“Fortunately, we have one of them as President now. The young Muhammadu Buhari spent 30 months in the frontlines as a young army officer, fighting the war of unity. And he has said it: we will not be around and watch Nigeria go down. Never. We will rather speak to insurrectionists in the language they understand.
“And what of Olusegun Obasanjo, a civil war hero. Despite all that he has contributed to the current upheavals by his actions and inactions, words, and bile, he says it is idiotic to wish Nigeria disintegration now. Good. But let us put our money where our mouth is. Let Baba mind his thoughts, and his language,” the presidential spokesman added.
“Nigeria will survive. The polity will endure. And the component parts will live together in amity and brotherhood. Any other option is Iberiberism,” he concluded.
Obasanjo, a military head of state from February 1976 to September 1979, was Nigeria’s democratically elected president between May 1999 and May 2007.