EDITORIAL: Why Pantami Must Step Aside From Government
What has emerged from Mr Pantami’s past therefore, are suggestive of a religious hardliner, who was intolerant of choices and views different from those consistent with his worldview. Despite his claims to have now embraced moderate religious views, it is difficult at this time to measure the extent to which he has reverted from such mindsets.
Still, while Mr Pantami might have had cause to revise some of his positions in relation to the need for Western education (he holds a PhD from a Scottish university and strings of certificates from American Ivy league universities), as more recently expressed in the media, it is difficult to say how much of this has influenced his core religious beliefs, which some still suspect to be extremist.
The foregoing have made it difficult for many Nigerians to accept Mr Pantami’s credentials as an unblemished bearer of inclusive and democratic values, or that he agrees, beyond mere rhetoric, to the ideals that we seek to build into a multicultural future as a country.
What Nigerians who have spoken loudly on this matter have expressed is that President Buhari needs to understand that they would remain uncomfortable having Mr Pantami in the federal cabinet overseeing a highly strategic department of government. The concern has also been expressed on how he balances his religious beliefs with the imperatives of our national interests.
This reasoning has been deployed to challenge the wisdom of having him as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, overseeing agencies responsible for managing the databases of Nigerians and expatriates in the country, as well as the web infrastructure of most government ministries and agencies, the armed forces, intelligence agencies, and Nigeria’s satellite infrastructure that provides communication and navigation support for the air force.
On this case, and in spite of himself, the president needs to act in a manner that sends a strong message to Nigerians that even if divisive persons manage to find their ways into sensitive positions of trust, he can muster the courage and strength to ask them to step aside.