Pantami: Nigeria, be watchful! ~ by Frank Tietie
When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be!
And in my hour of darkness, She is standing right in front of me,
Speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be!
And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
There will be an answer,
Let it be!
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see,
There will be an answer,
Let it be!
[Words & Music by John Lennon of the Beatles, 1968]
Some of the finest people I have met are Moslems, full of integrity, dwelling in peaceful and harmonious coexistence with non-Moslems, possessing utmost regard for human life. They represent the true meaning of the word, Islam- Peace!
Unbelievably, there are renegade believers who twist and turn good to bad and say that evil is good. They abound in all faiths, in this case, both Islam and Christianity. That is a problem!
Because of the inward witness of the Spirit, nothing can shake my Christian faith, yet in 1993, based on sectarian Christian teachings, David Koresh and his members of the Branch Davidian Church in Waco Texas, withstood the BATF in a long drawn siege and shoot out, after which they ultimately decided to set themselves ablaze.
Men, women and children burned to the horror of a watching world, shocked beyond belief and to the embarrassment of the then American President, George Bush snr.
Sadly and incorrectly, in the name of Islam, Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda has committed some of the worst atrocities in the world, especially, the 9-11 attacks on the USA in 2001 which took the life of over 3000 persons.
He was rightly condemned by many Moslems as violence against innocent life cannot be associated with Islam, a religion of peace.
What is right or wrong should not be blurred or confusing. Standard principles and practice of faith are clearly stated in the holy books.
They do not contradict civil laws. It is therefore easy to know those who deviate from the true practice of faith and religion.
Again, the problem is when we no longer know what is right from wrong; what is good or evil; and what is the truth or lie. What then is left of such a society?
Certainly, a country that lacks a clear-cut national ethos is a disaster waiting to happen.
Alluding to the Augustinian philosophy regarding political authority, every leader, including President Buhari is appointed by God and must be accorded love, prayers, respect and cooperation to govern well, by obedience to his lawful authority, yet I have never seen a leader in Nigerian history that has bungled so many opportunities to unite Nigerians along the principles of justice, truth, equality and fairness.
The President’s manner of appointments are most divisive.
The same applies to his selective application of standards to persons perceived to be enjoying some form of the regional and religious preferences of the Presidency, thereby creating in the polity, a sense of injustice and discrimination.
That is not how to run the Presidency of a federation as Nigeria. But the problem is bigger than just the Presidency.
Isa Pantami at one time in his life praised and endorsed Al-Qaeda and the Talibans.
Considering what Boko Haram has done to Nigeria, does anyone really think that Pantami would be appointed a Minister of the Federal Government of Nigeria, if Nigerians knew of his earlier sympathies for terrorists?
Emerging, unsubstantiated reports indicate, that the Nigerian intelligence community gave copious information about Pantami to the Senate which screened and approved him to made a Minister.
Does it mean that there was not one Senator who could question Pantami on his sympathies for terrorists? Wouldn’t that have given him the opportunity to clear the air on the matter and permanently lay it to rest?
Was the Senate Ministerial Screening Committee bribed?
Even if that was a possibility, was the entire Senate bribed or it was just a mere connivance on their part to conceal information to the Nigerian public which they represent?
To what purpose would that serve?
Take another look at the people in the Senate and consider each of them. They suppressed the information on Pantami and approved him as Minister.
Shouldn’t they and the people they represent remain forever silent on the matter?
Again, to President Buhari, what signals does he send to Nigerians and the international community? Is it that he values loyalty to party, religion and self more than a destructive perception to the detriment of Nigeria?
For the sake of sending a strong message of intolerance to terrorism and any uncertain association with it, shouldn’t the President ask Pantami to resign?
And finally to Pantami, does he love Nigeria above himself? If yes, then he is not qualified to be a leader of the Nigerian people.
Shouldn’t Pantami now realize that his continued stay as Minister despite his repentance for such wrongful comments in the past, actually does more harm to the Buhari presidency and the image of Nigeria in the international community?
When all of the above issues are being politicised and reduced to a battle between North and South or Christians versus Moslems, forgetting about what’s right or wrong, what’s good or bad or what is the truth or a lie, it shows a terrible lack of national ethos in Nigeria.
Nigerians really need to pray for solutions to its problems which seem defiant of all earthly attempts.
Frank Tietie, a Human Rights Lawyer, writes from Abuja.