Presidency has broken its silence on the controversial comments which the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami made in the past – in defence of terror groups.
The past views which was revealed in a viral video, was shot in the 2000s where Pantami was seen supporting Al-Qaeda and the Talibans.
The Minister however recanted his stand, stating that his position then were based on his understanding as a teenager.
Some Nigerians since the rise of the issue have called for the resignation or sack of Pantami.
President Muhammadu Buhari Spokesman, Garba Shehu while reacting to this in a statement on Thursday said, “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 in Pantami’s defence said the Minister is “currently, subject to a ‘cancel campaign’ instigated by those who seek his removal.”
While stating that the Minister has recanted his past views, the President’s spokesman agreed that the views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today.
He thereafter vouched that Pantami “will not repeat them, for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong,” adding that Nigerians should be solely concern about his present actions.
“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.”