Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari has taunted the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
Aisha in an Instagram post on Sunday shared a video showing Pantami, an Islamic cleric shedding tears during one of his sermons.
“A chire tsoro a yi abinda ya dace (Be courageous to do the right thing), ” the First Lady captioned the video in Hausa.
In the video, Pantami burst into tears after his reciter read a verse of the Holy Quran.
“That is the Garden we shall give as their own to those of Our servants who were devout,” read the reciter from Surah Maryam, Verse 63.
In response, Pantami sobbed, “O Allah! Make me one of them. O Allah! Make me one of them!”
Pantami’s past call to Jihad and unalloyed support for murderous groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda portray him as a dyed-in-the-wool Islamic fundamentalist.
Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as communications minister to control the country’s massive data and telephone infrastructure and other sensitive details of national intelligence.
“This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria,’’ Pantami was quoted as saying in one of his vicious preaching in the 2000s.
“Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” he was quoted to have also said.
In other audio clips that surfaced online, Pantami was also heard as sympathetic to Boko Haram members when delivering sermons at several worship centres in the 2000s.
However, Pantami claimed he had renounced his radical comments and said his views had changed over time. He said he had in the past 15 years been traversing the country to preach against terrorism.
Despite the Minister’s claim, most Nigerians said the minister ought to have resigned due to public backlash and be investigated by the authorities. Should he fail to resign, some commentators said he ought to be sacked by the President.
But the Presidency, showing support for Pantami, dismissed the possibility of sacking the controversial Minister because he had allegedly apologised for his radical views.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement also berated Nigerians for being too harsh on the Pantami and other Buhari’s appointees.
“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,” Shehu had said.