By Frank Oshanugor
In spite of the outcry of Nigerians calling for the removal of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami in connection with his once acclaimed stance on terrorists tendencies the Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday down played the calls by not discussing it.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the alleged link of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami with Al-Qaeda and Taliban some years back was not discussed at the meeting.
There have been calls for the Minister to resign his appointment as a result of his link with terrorist groups in the past.
Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the issue was not raised at the meeting. Pantami was not physically present at the meeting but he attended virtually from his office.
Fielding question on whether the council discussed the matter and whether the government was comfortable with its burden on its image, Alhaji Mohammed said: “I’m not going to go into the issue of whether the government is comfortable or not. I will answer your question directly. It was not discussed at the council meeting.”
Pantami, who had been embroiled in controversy over his unearthed comments endorsing both terrorist organizations, has, however, announced that he has renounced the views.
He said during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja last Saturday that he now knows better about some of the comments he made in the past. Pantami had posited that the campaign against him is politically motivated.
He remarked: “For 15 years, I have moved around the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism. I have travelled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Kano states and Difa in the Niger Republic to preach against terrorism.
“I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies in different places. I have been writing pamphlets in Hausa, English and Arabic. I have managed to bring back several young persons who have derailed from the right path.
“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 the international events and therefore took some positions based on their understanding, some have come to change their positions later.”