The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore calls to sack the embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Technology, Isa Ali-Pantami.
Reacting, the Director of MURIC, Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Thursday, urged the President to ignore such calls, describing the agitation as an afterthought.
The statement reads: “The call for the resignation of the Minister of Communications and Digital Planning, Isa Pantami, over remarks made as a teenager and long before he became a minister is quite worrisome.
“The question we are asking is ‘Why now? Why were those radical remarks not mentioned before now?
“This man is not new in government. He headed a federal agency for four good years and he has been a minister for another two years.
“Where were those critics when he was appointed as Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) six years ago? Where were they when his status was upgraded and he became a minister?
“Both appointments require screening by Senate. This means he has been screened twice. Anyone who had anything on him at that time could have blown the whistle but nobody did. He was screened and cleared after satisfying all righteousness.
“Another important thing to note is that none of the nouveau critics who are yelling today has mentioned any official misdemeanour committed by Dr. Pantami while in office as DG of NITDA or since he started serving as minister.
“The call for his resignation is therefore an afterthought. It is belated and it should be ignored by patriotic Nigerians.
According to Mr Akintola, the initiative to link the National Identity Number, NIN, to SIM cards is the reason behind the attacks on the minister.
“It is our contention that the brilliant initiative of NIN which is capable of exposing rogues and criminals is behind the attacks on him and calls for his resignation.
“They saw the NIN as a threat to their nefarious activities. That is why out of the blues we started hearing that he had expressed radical views as a teenager and in his undergraduate days. It is sheer afterthought. This is balderdash.
The director appealed to President Buhari to ignore the rantings of Mr Pantami’s critics, adding that it is part of a ploy to weaken his administration.
“The idea is to rubbish the best communication minister Nigeria ever had. But it is more than that. They want to score a cheap political point with their demand for Pantami’s resignation.
“It is also a ploy to weaken this administration.
“The NIN initiative which came from Pantami is giving unscrupulous elements sleepless nights and their desire is to stop it. They want our state of insecurity to continue.
“Mr. President must not allow enemies of Nigeria to have their way. Pantami is not the real target. President Buhari is the ultimate.”