From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following calls for the immediate sack of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami for showing sympathy for the deadly activities of insurgents, the Presidency has urged Nigerians to accept the apology he has tendered.
According to the Presidency, Pantami’s past comments in support of terrorist groups like Taliban and Al-Qaeda was 20 years ago , urging Nigerians not to join what it called “cancel campaign” seeking his removal.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Presidency said Pantami’s travail was not about his past utterances but about his current job as a minister.
The statement read: “Today, 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.
“This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.
“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.”