Since his emergence as the Minister in-charge of Communications, which later metamorphosed to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami has been celebrated as a Titan of the Communications Industry, and has received local and global commendations and awards for the strides he has made in dramatically steering the Nigerian Communications and Digital Economy to an ever-increasing level of becoming the New Oil to the Nigerian economy. This no doubt won’t go well will so many people, as he has stepped on giant toes that were hitherto believed to be untouchable, especially in the Nigerian Communications Industry. Thus, the recent onslaught on his person, being blindsided, facing mean-spirited and jealousy-fuelled campaign of calumny is at all not surprising. The cruelty of these series of attacks, that are glaringly driven by bitter political rivalry, some elements of bigotry and that egoistic feeling of, “I can do better” has pushed the sponsors of this calculated attack on Dr Isa Pantami to throw away all decorum and embrace that culture filled with volatility and irresponsibility. It has been one lie, then another, afteranother, which have all being debunked by Nigerians as they are being hatched.
Of recent is another mischief that links Dr. Pantami to the death of a student of ATBU many years ago. Unfortunately to the fabricators of these allegations, this too would be debunked, because this happened while we were undergraduate students of ATBU Bauchi. For the objective minds, I know you won’t have difficulties understanding this rather very straightforward explanation to the easily dismissible allegation. It happened while I was an official of the Muslims Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), also the Vice President, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) ATBU Chapter and as well a Senator representing my department in the Nigerian University Engineering Students Association (NUESA). The death of Sunday Achi, someone I have known personally being an indigene of Kaduna state, and someone I have met several times in different capacities, came as a shock and a sad surprise to so many of us. I have known him as a member of the Kaduna State Students Union (KADSSU) where I was an active member from 100 Level until my graduation, held different positions including Chairman Electoral Committee. I also have met him during Security Meetings, normally held in the University between the University Management, representatives of the MSSN and those of the Nigerian Fellowship Students (NIFES). This was what happened:
On a Saturday, the leadership of the Muslims Students received a rather worrisome report that some Christian students that do normally go room to room for evangelism (irrespective of whether the rooms are all occupied by Muslims) have distributed some blasphemous pamphlets (copies of which I am sure can still be found in the University Security Department orthe federal security agencies). The President of the MSSN then was Nasir, a final year student of Education Technology that hails from Katsina State. Malam Nasir was a great leader. This unfortunate news was kept away from the public for close to three days, all in an attempt to de-escalate brewing tension, should the news of such deliberate provocation be broken. The first question that will come to the mind of every peace loving human is, what has evangelism or calling to your religion got do with making cartoons of the most respected human being to the same Muslims you are trying to preach to? Can we not invite others to our religion without attacking and making mockery of their own ways of belief? This sent the first signal of a deliberate attempt to disrupt the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in ATBU Bauchi. For the records, I do not know a single University in Nigeria, located in a state where Muslims are minority and yet they enjoy the equal treatment Christians share with Muslims in ATBU Bauchi. Christians hold every position a Muslim can hold in that University, even though it is situated in the heart of Bauchi, a predominantly Muslim state. When Muslims were given a plot of land to erect their Central Mosque, the same size of plot was given to the Christian Community within the University to erect their Church, where a Governor from Southeast Nigerian built a very huge structure that is still there as we speak. How many Universities in southern Nigeria has done that to the Muslim communities there?
It will also interest you to know that, to the utmost surprise of the leadership of the MSSN, the same blasphemous pamphlets that were distributed in ATBU have been distributed in the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, a federal higher institution of learning situated 20Km away from ATBU. This again signalled a grand plot orchestrated by enemies of peace and purveyors of evil. This information can be verified from the federal security agencies, because I believe they are not unprofessional and would keep such vital records. A meeting was called, of executive members of the MSSN and it was agreed that the matter should be handed over to the university management for further actions. For the records. Dr. Pantami was not the one controlling MSSN or deciding what MSSN does. As at that time, he was not even a Patron of the Society. If my memory serves me correctly, Prof. Mansur Bindawa, Malam AU Misau, and another senior medical doctor were the patrons. They were contacted and they agreed that we should handover the matter to the University management for actions. The university management acted accordingly and a Senate Meeting was held to that effect, which led to the dismissal of the three students that shared those blasphemous pamphlets. There was no single riot to that effect, neither within the University promises nor the outside environment. Infact, so many people in Yelwa, the Bauchi suburb where ATBU Yelwa Campus is sighted did not know about what was happening within the university until the closure of the university following the death of Achi. On a morning (I think a Tuesday morning), when students have resumed to their classes, the terrifying news of a dead body found within the university premises was making rounds. The university management immediately closed down the school and gave a two hour-deadline for everyone to vacate the premises. His death was not only a shock to the entire university environment, but also created suspicions in the minds of many of us, as to who was behind such. Achi was not among the students that spread the blasphemous pamphlets neither was he among those expelled. Secondly, his dead body was placed behind the University Central Mosque. It was believed to be a calculated attempt by some agents of evil to link such murder to the Muslims of ATBU, the same agents of evil that might have championed the spread of such blasphemous pamphlets, and probably the same agents that are again doing everything possible to link this to Dr. Pantami. I can remember clearly that even at that time, the MSSN wrote memoranda, exonerating itself from such heinous act of murder and also charged the security operatives to investigate further.
It is worthy of note that to anyone who has been familiar with the activities of the MSSN in ATBU at that time, the society was at several times awarded the most active society in organizing public lectures that are open to Muslims and Non-Muslims, organizing Tutorials to all students, especially of engineering and sciences, doing several humanitarian activities of hospital visitations and so on. It is only mischief people and agents of evil that will ascribe such act to the MSSN or to the Chief Imam of the University, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami who has rather played several key roles in de-radicalizing youths and preaching peaceful coexistence among students. This lengthy explanation would not have been necessary, but for the purpose of objective people who would want to know the truth of what has happened. While we continue to debunk every mischief linked not only to Dr. Pantami, but to any responsible member of the society, we wish to call on the Honorable Minister to not allow naysayers, bigots and political jobbers distract him from the good works he has been doing to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Dr. Abubakar Hidima (firstname.lastname@example.org)