Last week, we saw how Mallam Isa Pantami is not an ordinary Minister. He is charged with the sensitive portfolio of Communications and Digital Economy. In this digitalised world, Pantami by his office has access to Nigerians’ private communications, NIN, identities, etc. We then periscoped into whether, and how, he could be prosecuted as an aider and abettor of terrorist acts. Today, we shall conclude our discourse to see if truly he is a repentant fellow.
Patami: The leopard and its unchanging spots
Among others in his Salafist ideology and spine-chilling teachings in support of two of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world (the Taliban and al-Quaeda) some years ago, Patami had said unapologetically, “Oh God, give victory to the Talibans and to the al-Quaeda. This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria.” He also reportedly endorsed the killings of “unbelievers” (non-Moslems).
In a video that has since gone viral (which he was later forced to own up to after initially denying his previous incendiary and inflammatory statements), he openly castigated then President Goodluck Jonathan for sending the military to kill Boko Haram insurgents whose blood he regarded as “our Muslim brother’s blood.”
Hear him: “We are praying to God to answer all our prayers. It is our right and obligation before all Muslim leaders, politicians, government appointees, academics. All of us should not fold their arms and watch helplessly how they shed our Muslim brothers’ blood and cheat them in vain.
“Even if the Boko Haram fighters commit a crime but can we justify the way and manner they are being killed? Just look at how they are killing people as if they are shooting pigs, even though they committed a crime why the extrajudicial killing? Take them before the law for a fair trial. You caught someone sleeping and you killed them. If it is not Muslims that undergo such treatments, who else?
“The Niger Delta people did something similar to this. They massacred people, stole weapons, killed expatriates and kidnapped some of them, yet you still accept them back, opened a ministry for them, gave them a minister and put them on a monthly salary pay without work. The militants did more harm compared to what Boko Haram boys did. But why will they do something like this? Why selective justice?”
He even prayed for the day when the images on the naira notes and the “Gregorian date, the calendar of the infidels,” will be wiped out. “And, therefore, we are praying to God that, based on our understanding, we pray for a day when the images on the notes in our pockets will be removed. No Muslim cleric has ever spoken against these images as forbidden. May be self-sufficient enough not to need this currency. It is against the religion to put even the images of Companions of the Prophet on the currency. May Allah help us to see that day when the Gregorian date, the calendar of infidels that is on the notes…”
Boko Haram was thereby given the necessary muscle and many Muslims were innocently led to believe that killing Boko Haram insurgents amounted to killing Muslims. Nigerians have today witnessed the corrosive and deadly consequences of Boko Haram’s killings, maiming, arson and the general insecurity enthroned and watered by such dangerous hate preachments. Boko Haram has since abducted the Chibok, Dapchi, Kankara, Kagara and Jangebe girls; blown up the UN headquarters; engaged in serial cases of maiming, killings and kidnaps in Kaduna, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Damaturu, Madalla, Mubi, Gamboru, Yola, Gombi, Kano, Baga, Bunu Yadi, Konduga, Gwoza, to mention just a few places.
Reeling under the weight and yoke of damning public criticisms by a wide spectrum of Nigerians, Patami (who had earlier denied making the statements), summersaulted and claimed that he has since changed his views and extreme religious ideology, which he claimed had been based on youthful ignorance.
Said he: “Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity.
“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 international events and, therefore, took some positions based on their understanding. Some have come to change their positions later.”
Has he really changed? What has changed? Can a leopard ever change its spots? In saner climes, Patami should have resigned immediately without more. Or be sacked forthwith. Lifting the veil off his purported transformation or assumed transfiguration is so easy when viewed against the background of his new acts even as minister. Only recently, on March 22, 2021, Patami’s Ministry hosted a virtual flag-off ceremony for a capacity development programme empowering 600 people with VSAT installation skills. Patami himself was present and he even spoke at the event. It was a virtual flag-off capacity development programme on VSAT installation skills and TVRO systems for 600 youths by Patami.
The ceremony was not covered by AIT, Channels, NTA, TVC, ITV, or even FM Youtube channels. Rather, a very little-known Islamic TV channel called Al-Afrikiy was contracted to relay an event organized by a whole Federal Government of Nigeria. It must be borne in mind that Al-Afrikiy is not merely an Islamic-influenced learning TV station, it is also an Islam-only TV channel. It broadcasts strictly religious matters.
Why did President Muhammadu Buhari nominate Patami in the first place? Can he, as Commander-In-Chief, claim not to have access to information regarding Patami’s dangerous antecedents? I think not. Or, don’t you know the reason? Simple: his usual infamous inclination towards prebendalism, cronyism, sectionalism, tribalism, favouritism, religiosity and mediocrity.
By the way, where was the DSS, which was supposed to screen Patami before his name was sent to the Senate? Why did it turn its focus away from these destructive extremist views of the very minister in charge of Nigerians’ information data, with unabridged access to same, including NIN, BVN, biodatas, etc?
What about our fawning rubber stamp “take-a-bow” Senate that was supposed to do a very thorough screening of Patami? Why did it simply allow the camel to pass through the needle’s eye? When will it winnow out the chaff from the real wheat? Why has it turned a sacred duty on behalf of Nigerians into a “yes sir” party affair, which suggests that President Buhari can do no wrong or make any mistake? This is reminiscent of Boxer’s slogan of “Napoleon is always right”, in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. For me, Mallam (Sheikh, Dr, Cleric) Isa Patami should honorably resign, as Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, former Finance Minister, once did. Where he fails to do this, Buhari should immediately relieve him of his ministerial position. His antecedents loudly proclaim him as a clear and present danger to Nigeria’s asphyxiatingly fragile unity, harmony and religious and ethnic tolerance. I know Buhari will not do it. At least, make we “siddon look.”
Why some northern elite are suddenly worried by the Southern Governors’ Asaba Declaration
The sudden unexpected kick by some northern elite against the patriotic resolutions passed last week at a meeting held in Asaba by the 17 southern governors of Nigeria is quite worrisome, but definitely uncalled for. The kick is illegal, unconstitutional and even immoral. I have since termed the Asaba resolutions the “ACCORD CONCORDIALE.” The sudden hoopla and ruckus seem to suggest that these few vocal elements are suddenly scared of certain manifold effects that the unanimous resolutions by the APC, PDP, Benin, Anioma, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ibibio and Efik leading lights may throw up. What are they afraid of. I do not know. Or, do you? But, let me do some guess work here. They may be afraid that the South has finally woken up and shaken off its Stockholm Syndrome. I guess they are scared that the assumed long suffering ‘slaves’ of Nigeria may finally achieve their overdue liberation, liberty and freedom, and attain their independence from the asphixiating grip of perpetual overlords, ‘slave’ masters, neo-colonialists and territorial expansionists. Perhaps, theirs may be induced fear that the over-belaboured geese whose backside now aches sorely may finally stop laying the golden eggs for their domineering consumption and bacchanalian and self-centred ‘chop-chop-alone’ attitude. They may fear that, under a true fiscal federation, anchored on the true principles of federalism, everyone will now be required to contribute to the baking of the national cake and not just merely sharing it. Let my fellow Nigerians, please, remind these historical revisionists that we are not all suffering from collective amnesia like the Borbons of European history that learnt nothing and forgot nothing. Let them know that we can clearly recall that it was the Northern Governors that actually first set the ball rolling at their virtual meeting of February 9, 2021, about the urgent need to ban open grazing. Their communique was to the effect that open cattle grazing should be immediately abolished. The forum had then set up a four-man committee, headed by its chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, to implement their decisions. This meeting was immediately followed, upon the Northern Governors’ prodding, by the 25th virtual meeting of all Nigerian Governors’ Forum, two days later, on February 11, 2021. It was presided over by its chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. At the meeting, all the 36 state governors unanimously agreed to end nomadic rearing of cattle, to end open, night and underage grazing in Nigeria, and to transit to ranching and other modern systems of animal husbandry, in view of its adverse security effects on the country. At this meeting, Gov. Lalong even presented an update on the Northern Governors’ steps at ending the scourge. So, what has changed between February and May? Why the sudden and inexplicable Esan Egbabonalimhin acrobatic summersault by some of the same northern elite? Why the dripping lachrymal effusion? What are they worried about? What do they know that the rest of us Nigerians don’t? Do they really want this country united under agreeable terms of social justice, equity, egalitarianism, mutual respect and ethnic and religious tolerance? Have they ever read about the historic ABURI ACCORD in Aburi, Eastern Region of Ghana, hosted by Ghanaian Head of State, Lt. Gen. Ankrah, between Federal Government delegates, led by Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon and Eastern Nigeria delegates, led by Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu? Are they aware that the three-year bloody fratricidal and genocidal civil war that claimed over three million lives and unleashed misery and pains on Nigerians, especially Biafrans, finally broke out because of the insincerity that attended its implementation, especially with the passage of Decree 8 of 1967, which made a mockery of matters mutually arrived at and agreed upon? Is the Senate President, Senator “Take-a-Bow” Ahmad Lawan, aware and conscious of the enormity of the functions and responsibilities of his revered office as the head of one of the three arms of Government, and the number three citizen of Nigeria? Can he not help to salvage this drifting, compassless nation by simply dusting up the over 600 recommendations of the 2014 National Conference mutually agreed up and rolled out after six months of rigorous deliberations by the 492 delegate-conferees drawn from all strata, segments, professions and classes, of the Nigerian nation and ethnic nationalities from across Nigeria? Are Nigerians not seeing that the ship of state is fast sinking, while our President who does not even address his people has again taken off to Paris, France, to attend the Financing Africa Summit? Is this not a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns? God, you have always been a Nigerian and shown us mercy. Please, Baba, continue to remain one and save us from any doom and its cataclysm effects.
Thought for the week
“The SILENCE of the good people is more DANGEROUS than the BRUTALITY of the bad people.” (Martin Luther King JR)