By Ismaila Chafe
The presidency rejected the ongoing smear campaign against Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Dr Isa Pantami, saying the Buhari administration supports all Nigerians, including the minister, against unfair treatment.
Reacting to calls in some quarters for Pantami’s resignation following his statements over 20 years ago, Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesman, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday called the calls unfortunate. .
According to him, it is unfair and unfortunate for anyone to seek the downfall of a hard-working public servant because of a statement he made in the past, even after that statement was rejected by the person concerned.
He said: “Today there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that holds leaders in politics, religion and civil society accountable in the present for all the statements they have made in the passed – no matter how long ago, and even after subsequently rejected them.
“This insidious phenomenon seeks to nullify the careers of others on the basis of something they said, regardless of when they said it.
The Minister of Communication and the Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, is currently the subject of a “cancellation campaign” initiated by those asking for his dismissal.
“They don’t really care what he said or not said 20 years ago: it’s just the instrument they use to try to ‘undo’ him.”
“But they will benefit if he is prevented from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.
“The minister rightly apologized for what he said in the early 2000s.
“The opinions were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be just as unacceptable today if he repeated them.
“But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and definitively condemned his previous statements as false.”
According to the presidential assistant, in the 2000s, the minister was a man in his twenties; Next year, he will be 50, adding that the time has passed and people and their opinions – often rightly so – are changing.
Shehu postulated that Pantami was deliberately attacked for ruining the achievements of the Buhari administration in the ICT sector.
However, he reiterated the Buhari administration’s commitment to improving the lives of all Nigerians.
He also listed Pantami’s accomplishments at the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy over the past two and a half years.
“This administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not overburdened or underprotected for the services upon which modern life depends.
“The minister led the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing.
“It revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayer dollars.
“He created ICT start-up centers to stimulate youth entrepreneurship and create jobs.
“He changed policies to ensure that locally produced ICT content is used by government departments, starting with his own; and it deregistered some 9.2 million SIM cards – ending the possibility for criminals and terrorists to blatantly use mobile networks undetected.
“In just two years, Minister Pantami has increased the contribution of the ICT sector to GDP to over 18%, making it one of the first two to play a critical role in the emergence of the economy of the recession induced by COVID 19, “he said.
He further noted that Pantami and the Buhari administration had made enemies to put people first in all their dealings.
Shehu said, “The minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it to be stopped by any means.
“And there is now well-reported information which alleges that newspaper editors have repelled an attempt to induce them financially to carry out a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of whom indeed risk losing financially. through lower prices and better consumer protection.
“The government is currently investigating the veracity of these allegations of attempted incitement, and – if found to be credible – police and judicial action is to be expected.
“The administration supports Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure that they receive fair treatment, fair prices and fair protection in ICT services,” he added. (NOPE)
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