By Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim
It is very important and necessary for people like me who are in the media field to sort facts out of fiction. I am sure this will bring some people out of doubt. Balance, fairness, and objectivity are the basic principles that our profession teaches right from elementary classes. Any student who fails to understand these is not fit to be in the media space. These are as opposed to the libertarian media theory. Journalists and media students know this better.
I don’t expect the enemies of this country who could not hide their hatred for President Buhari’s administration to say good about a cabinet member. Though, to me, even if I don’t like a person, I won’t spread fake information about him, more especially, a person who is respected both nationally and internationally. This is not allowed in Islam. Even if I have to criticise him, it must be constructive in the sense that it will benefit him. But it must be free from abuse, jealousy, and hatred.
I have watched the video of one Aisha Yesufu on Facebook. Her name shouldn’t be forgotten by well-meaning Nigerians because of the harm she caused to the nation. Her contribution was immensely obvious in the protest she led that almost destroyed the nation. The video of her speaking further portrayed the fear of Yusufu’s family and their likes.
The fear of criminals and enemies of Nigeria grew higher when the federal government stated clearly that the presidency stands with Pantami and also stated the people behind the smear campaign. If not a criminal or an enemy of Nigeria, who will fight a person regulating ICT and telecommunications companies to protect Nigeria and Nigerians?
The presidency said:
“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 presidency further stated:
“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 centers 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.”
Just like the presidency has said, I am very hopeful about the minister, owing to his deliverables within a short time frame which made him the best minister in Nigeria. But this is the fear of others masquerading as activists. Their fear is that if Pantami stays, one day, Nigeria will be salvaged and transformed to a better and digital nation.
Another writer, Ibrahim Gashash wrote that:
“Pantami suddenly appeared out of nowhere and without any known powerful godfather and with no “political experience” (in the Nigerian parlance) has within a very short time become a full-fledged decimal in the political equation of Nigeria… Just like magic. Worse, even a “blind person” can see that he has the prospect of becoming more relevant and grow into something even bigger and remaining on the scene for a long time to come.”
He further went ahead to state the fear of the bad eggs:
“This is an immensely frightening and scary scenario for many people, an unacceptable distortion of the political equation. Plus the guy has without remorse touched a raw nerve and “live wire” of many persons with his digital economy stuff that is threatening to block some drain pipes.”
The fear of some bad eggs referred to as ‘drain pipes’ by this writer is not only that he may grow in Nigerian politics but his Islamic scholarship which prevents him from cheating in his ministry. They know that he will not allow them to embezzle public funds as well under his leadership. Therefore, their fear is what will happen if their illegal means of getting money are blocked. The above-quoted writer, Ibrahim Gashash understood their game very well. He also stated that:
“How dare an ordinary Islamic scholar, a Malam who should be busy leading prayers and occasionally doing tafsir at a mosque, maneuver himself into a position that “rightly” belongs to them… and even threatening not only their political survival but their means of livelihood as well!”
I am not just writing this because of Dr. Pantami alone. It is because of justice, fairness, and equity. I know that his religion (Islam) more especially his vast scholarship pain those people so much. Should they have come up with even a single piece of evidence, people would not be on this street replying to them. But their culture of blackmail and Islamophobia are amongst the reasons they are doing this, as such we need to set the records clear.
My readers, who have been reading my opinion articles, know that I am an advocate of justice, equity, and fairness. Those that came to know me through my journalistic articles, also know that I advocate for justice, human rights, and SDGs. For this, I have emerged as champion and winner of various journalism awards.
I don’t know how these drain pipes want one to believe that between Shaykh Dr. Isa Pantami that teaches and preaches Islam is the same with people that carry weapons and kill human beings. The attack is simply because Dr. Pantami is an Islamic scholar. It is their culture to blackmail a religious person. Pantami did no wrong. But since they have no evidence to raise against him, they have decided to blackmail him.
Ibrahim Gashash explained this better and I quote:
“The solution:- Cut him down to size; take him to pieces; manufacture any dirt and throw at him; fully exploit the gullibility and anger of the masses and turn it against him; stork religious nerves within and between the various religious callings and tactfully throw it at him; use the “amorous” relationship that youth have with social media and canvass support of the hostile mainstream media to distort facts and label it against him. Then sit back obscure as usual, relax and wait for him to die a slow political death and disappear into thin air. However, they forgot one very important thing – which is that God is fully in charge and that He protects who He wills against evil!!!”
They always forget or ignore that, whatsoever they planned, Allah planned already and He is the best of Planners. At this point, I pray that may Almighty Allah continue to guide, protect and help Dr. Pantami and all of us.
There are contradictions and a lack of wisdom in their publications. How will one believe that a person who has connections with terrorists will be in the forefront, fighting terrorists (through NIN-SIM linkage and stoppage of anyhow SIM registration)?
They think everyone is a fool like them. Their stupid campaign is going beyond imagination. They lied severally but still continued to. They are shameless. This is a disgrace to the media profession. On linking NIN with SIM, no going back. It is a must. I know they are really feeling the heat of this.
I have classified the people behind the blackmail and/or campaign into four. They are: one, ill-informed ones amongst the Christians who are suffering from Islamophobia. Two, southerners who have developed a long time hatred for the north and northerners. Three, politicians who are jealous of the seat Dr. Pantami is presently occupying. Four and lastly, criminals (enemies of progress otherwise known as enemies of Nigeria) who don’t want Nigeria to succeed, develop and grow higher.
I have seen the reactions of those islamophobes on this issue. They could not even hide their hatred for a single second. For everyone who understands this issue, it is far from an attack on Dr. Pantami alone. It is an attack on Islam and Muslims in general.
These bad eggs were even calling others religious bigots. They even went ahead to compare Kemi Adeosun’s case with that of Dr. Pantami. And I see no similarity between the two. She accepted that she didn’t do NYSC and her certificate was fake. She resigned on her own. Then, why should she be compared with the one who was blackmailed just for selfish interest without even a single reasonable fact?
You will come to understand that this is a well-planned and funded campaign, when you see how #Pantamiresign was trending on Twitter. This is what they know how to do best. #Pantamiwillstay and #Pantamiwillnotresign got more tweets than those of the enemies of Nigeria and Nigerians. Adamu Usman Garko has excellently done well for penning down “Of Pantami and our enemies”. We are now knowing our enemies better.
My reader, you will believe this when you read what those Islamophobic bodies/groups and bad eggs’ were saying. They were even calling for his impeachment. This is nothing but politics. Is this politics in Nigeria? What does politics mean? Does politics mean blackmailing one? Or is it about development and prosperity of a nation?.
While the ill-informed ones amongst the southerners are out too vomiting their anger and hatred about the northerners occupying offices. If it were a southerner, would they talk? One who preaches Islam is not a terrorist but those who are enemies of peace, attack people, destroy properties, and confront the military are terrorists. Islam is a religion that frowns on terrorism.
I pray may the Almighty Allah protect us from our enemies.
Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim is a journalist, fellow African Investigative Journalism Conference 2020, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa. Can be reached via email@example.com