By Chinedu Adonu
The South East Support group for Minister of communication, Prof, Isa Ali Pantami has thrown weight behind Presidency in calling for forgiveness of Pantami, saying that “to err is human and to forgive is divine.
The group warned Nigerians not to politicise Pantami’s comment based on ethnic group and religious lines, stressing that Pantami has been aggressively using his ministry to stop banditry in Nigeria.
The conveners of the group, Pharmacist Emeka Akwuobi and Ugbor Williams, in a press conference, appealed to Nigerians not to use Pantami issue to subvert the government or create political tensions but join hands to rebuild the country.
According to the statement, “It has become expedient to call this media conference for some obvious reasons. You all are aware of the recent controversies that have trailed the alleged previous comments or support of Pantami in favour of Alqaeda, Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist groups and activities. The Minister has not only denied some of these allegations but taken time to explain what he said or did not say.
“He has further explained that people mature with time and change positions on issues as they grow, get more experienced and expand their knowledge and worldviews. This is not farther from the truth. While many have continued to call for his head including a resignation or sack from the cabinet, it is relieving to note that the Presidency came out in clear terms to give him support. The Presidency also explained the rationale for such support.
“We, the conveners and members of the South-East support group for Prof, Isa Ali Pantami are here to lend our voice to the Presidency and Pantami. We do not think the issue should be politicized along ethnic and religious lines as some people are desperately trying to make it. To err is human and to forgive is divine.
“As Christians, we do not hold hard against others. Assuming Pantami is culpable of all he had been accused and has come out to recount them, what is our place as Christians? Even in our Igbo culture, it is said that when the right hand is used to flog a child, the left one is used to draw him back. We therefore call on all and sundry to let the Pantami issue go away.
“Professor Pantami should be judged by the content of his present character. We should be concerned with how he discharges his office. Is there a report of extremism or fundamentalism in his office? Does he discriminate his workers on tribal basis? Does he implement a religious agenda in his Ministry? If the answers are no, why do we call for his extinction? There are Christian clerics in the government. No one has called for their removal from the cabinet. Why Pantami?
“Our beloved country is already facing many challenges. Our common interest should be how to resolve the many security problems. It should not be how to fight Pantami who is already contributing so much to national security management through the NIN initiative. We are indeed worried that many fighting him do that so he can abandon this noble project. Doing that will mean freedom to kidnappers and criminals.
“We are aware that some of the people calling for Pantami’s head are just doing so out of hate and lack of information. We believe too that some are social media soldiers and warriors who fire without aiming. What do we say about those who are desirous of using the matter to distract the government Pantami serves. Those planning to blackmail him should retrace their steps and allow reason to prevail.
“Pantami has said he is not a terrorist and never supported terrorist ideologies. The evidences suffice. In 2006, he flawed the late Boko Haram Leader, Mohammed Yusuf in a debate and reminded him that killing people in the name of Islam was unislamic. Once upon a time, Shekau passed a death sentence on him. So how could he have suddenly become a terrorist? This mob action against Pantami should stop in the name of God.
“In conclusion, Nigeria is our country. Let us join hands to rebuild it. Let us eschew bitterness. We call on all Nigerians, home and abroad to Support Pantami. Let us stop the distractions. You the media owe us a duty not to give attention to groups that preach hate or exploit our faultiness to create divisions among us. No one should use the Pantami thing to subvert the government or create political tensions”, The statement reads.