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KNOWLEDGE, AWARENESS; ANTIDOTES TO EFFECTS OF FAKE NEWS By Hashim Suleiman

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Pastor Poju Oyemade, founder of the Covenant Place and Visionary of ‘The Platform’

For the followers of my write ups and comments regarding societal issues especially as related to Nigeria, you would notice that one of my cardinal beliefs is the seeking of knowledge by the populace because I believe strongly that such is the only way to get the society active enough to be functional towards being a developed nation. Do not however, mistake knowledge to mean attending schools, but it could stem from simple instilling of  family values and mentorship, inculcating a listening culture as well as reading culture.

 

I had in one of my columns gave a story of a millennial I met who clearly said he couldn’t read anything over 3 lines, little wonder why tweets and fleets are made to not more 280 characters and 30 seconds respectively. This and more is why my article of last week affirmed that social media and fake news had come to stay, the only thing that can be done was for any right thinking policy maker to invest in strategic communication strategy, this can actually best work for politicians and business enterprises but the major solution to effects of fake news is awareness and knowledge on the part of the citizenry.

 

My research and understanding has shown that even on the social media, those people who are properly knowledgeable are quick to identify a fake post and would simpler swipe past it. You would hardly hear any rancor resulting from fake news in countries that are intellectually developed even though all of the social media platforms are active. Their awareness level have literally made them impermeable to fake news.

 

Further check on the fake news shenanigans will expose three major areas that are utilized as most potent for its being effective. These areas are religion, ethnicity and slander, and their quick acceptance by the gullible individuals only goes to tell you how negatively inclined an average illiterate mind can be. Some will tell you never to engage in an argument with an illiterate, they will defeat you with negativity and attempt to bring you down to their levels. The question now is, the rate at which fake news takes effect in Nigeria is perhaps a pointer to the fact that the majority of the people including the graduates are not knowledgeable and aware enough? It is a yes for me.

 

Who has ever told anyone that you can’t learn about the other faith even when you’re not one. How much do people know about the politics of oil, religion, America and Middle East and how controversial they were around the world and differently to different races and regions. How many of the millennials care to read to know about such so they can decipher through political statements they hear relating to certain situations of the past. How much do people know about the history of Nigeria’s politics to know that Pastor Poju was only inviting Elrufai to ‘The Platform’ because of his intellect as well as effort to complete a national character on the program. How many people also know drinking alcohol and certain level of socialism is a way of life for so many that must be respected. What has stopped us as a people from seeking knowledge, are we not seeing how our illiteracy is inching us closer to perdition?

 

For me, programs like ‘The Platform’  by pastor Poju Oyemade are the way to go for us as a nation so that conversations can be held which could at least make some who don’t know to perhaps see reason to see things differently. For example, those who jump into secession and restructuring debate without having a depth knowledge of what can be obtainable would have obtained a different view from the submissions of Dr Charles Omole and Segun Adeniyi over the fact that we will be worse as molecular units.

 

It is the likes of the above and more that spurs us to keep writing about topical national issues as well as pointing out progressive tendencies with a view to getting those that get the opportunity to read to have a different view regarding nation building and the complexities therein as well as what and what not to expect and tolerate while we are at it. Such critical information could make a society immune to fake news  and misinformation that is capable of creating chaos and slowing development.

 

May God bless Nigeria

 

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION AS THE MOST CRITICAL POLITICAL TOOL FOR NOW AND BEYOND By Hashim Suleiman

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Festus Keyamo and Buhari in the build up to the 2019 Presidential elections

The times have clearly shown that the social media is here to stay and so is fake news. Donald Trump of the almighty America fought fake news to no avail until it and other factors swept him off his seat and the rest is history. These and more showcase the danger and damage that the reality of fake news can cause and so it’s mitigation would have to start to form an integral part of policies and strategies going forward.

In our clime where mundane conversations are the order of the day, you hear people telling you that social media should be regulated and I ask how? We really do overate ourselves to be honest. I have made my research and have not found any country in the world that has succeeded in really regulating the effects of the social media and the major ones are fake news and undue influences. What China did is not really regulation but outright banning and that is not for regulation of fake news per se but for economic reason to advance their alternative applications. In fact, I’m aware that people have a way of accessing these banned apps while in China through some technological ways.

Remember also, I had always been an advocate of advancement of strategies especially in the political culture and growth of our country. However, the more the democracy grows, the more the strategy remains same, so unfortunate. We cannot continue like this and that’s why pundits like us bring to fore the lagging areas in our polity and their attendant effects in the society with a view to calling attention for filling up the gaps.

Fake news has today taken over our political landscape with mischief and blackmail becoming the most utilized political tool. People who don’t recognize how entrenched the fake news phenomenon has become get consumed by it. More and more commercial blackmailers are being produced and you’ll be amazed to know that they are cashing out big time because the patronage is pretty high. You’ll be shocked to see the kinds of vehicles and homes they posses. Most of their followers however follow them out of misinformation and not the commercial part but trust me this army is pretty huge and are ready to believe anything just anything. I really believe that unless well trained and mentored, the human mind is by default more inclined to negativity.

If there is anything that has contributed largely to the state of the Nigerian nation today, it’s this same fake news and mischief agenda. Political opponents of the administration have succeeded in creating armies of vicious haters for the government through dissemination of twisted information and unfortunately the development of the strategic communication team of the presidency was slow and just when Garba Shehu somewhat got his acts together, the damage had become largely irredeemable and that’s why their only option at this point must be a hit back at these individuals since the champions have at-least segregated  themselves and are easily identifiable by their words.

One more advantage that the administration got over these merchants is the mannerism and attitude of Muhammadu Buhari over non essential talks, I mean his I don’t care attitude. Such attitude has made such merchants to allow themselves become ridiculed among the few sane and objective ones. However, their army of believers are so enormous and still portend so much danger in the society.

Going by all of these, it was important to bring to the fore especially to the politicians, business owners and aspiring individuals to understand that a strategic communication team is important in their endeavors. Such team cannot be lame or mediocre in any way, it must compose of veterans and brilliantly strategic young men who have a fair understanding of the workings of the social media and the society itself. Such team must have the capacity to manage and change perceptions and fake insinuations. They must have the prowess to engage and sometimes bully off detractors. The man with the better strategic communication team comes on top nowadays.

A care study of a sound strategic communication strategy was the one recently executed by Mr Festus Keyamo in the campaigns of the APC for the 2019 general elections. He successfully bullied off the opposition with their multiple spokespeople as well as the powerful fake news merchants of the social media.

As time moves, things change and so do methods and strategies.

May God bless Nigeria.

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

WHY HONORABLE DR. ISA PANTAMI DESERVES A NATIONAL HONOUR By Abdullahi Abubakar Lamido

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A lot has been said and written about the well-orchestrated trending campaign of calumny against the vibrant Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Sheikh, Imam Dr. Isa Ali Pantami. A fabricated story was shared by a newspaper linking him to terrorism. The same originator of the story retracted it and apologized, describing it as simply baseless and misleading. Yet some fifth columnists saw in it an opportunity to launch a war against the promising minister. Sadly, some became gullible! 

The mischief makers used the strategy of selectively picking statements from some of Pantami’s old sermons, making mistranslations and interpretations. But who can escape the trap if the same formula of mutilating people’s statements and mistranslating some their selectively picked sentences were to be applied on him as done in the case of Pantami’s old sermons? How many people and nations should we condemn today if we were to judge them by their past? And, by the way, when did it become a sin for one to denounce his past mistakes, join the path of peace building and dedicate his entire life to fighting what he himself used to perceive to be good? Even if he held the position before, isn’t it plausible that he not only denounced it but also declared a sustained intellectual war against it? Wait! Before anybody supported Al-Qaeda it was the US itself that supported and financed it. The US later became its number one enemy. Should we, then, judge the US based on its earlier position and say it is Al-Qaeda’s ally? Back in Nigeria, who was Buhari in the 1980s: a democrat or a fascist? He despised democracy and politicians. After the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin wall, and with more maturity in age and experience, he changed completely, embracing democracy and growing to be the most popular politician in Africa. Many Nigerian politicians and intellectuals, as well as the global prophets of democracy, embraced and celebrated his conversion. Fact is, no matter what he believed and uttered as an exuberant university student, Isa Ali Pantami is now a completely changed person. Time modifies views. Exposure adjusts perception. That has been the case with all great men in documented human history. Pantami should even be congratulated for having grown to maturity so early, judging by the short period within which he swapped from emotion-based preaching to an intelligent, eloquent, progressive preaching approach.  

Ordinarily, one wouldn’t care to write on this unnecessary hullabaloo. In fact, when a friend asked me to make a rejoinder to one self-important Atlanta columnist called Kperogi, I told him that not all gibberish merit my attention.  The guy who falsely prides himself as Dr Pantami’s friend, shamelessly asked the minister to apologize for a crime he didn’t commit.  But the same Atlanta noisemaker is someone who for the past six years has consistently bombarded Nigerians with lies, fabrications, unsubstantiated, unverified claims and unprintable abuses in his weekly writings. He has neither repented, nor apologized for that. Preaching what he does not practice! 

It is actually disappointing how “intellectuals” could abandon clear evidences in favor of fabrications. How could they disregard thousands of lectures and lessons of person where he promotes peace, and rather begin to judge him on scattered, often misinterpreted statements he made at young age? It is an accepted standard that actions speaks lauder than voice. But perhaps in Atlanta voice speaks lauder than action. That is why the writer sets conditions for the Hon. Minister to do what he claims other preachers did. ut that shouldn’t be a surprise anyway if it comes from paid fifth columnists disguising as objective journalists and professors. 

One also wonders how a person who has been recognized globally as a peace advocate, an interfaith bridge builder, a fearless anti-terrorism and de-radicalization hero who has sacrificed his life for fighting extremism through intellectualism and good preaching, is now forcefully promoted as an ally of terrorists? In recognition of his contributions towards fighting violent extremism, Sheikh Pantami has been invited by various governments and international organizations for talks and efforts towards ending violent extremism, including the government of Switzerland.  Before joining government, he participated as an invited resource person in dozens of conferences, roundtables and conferences on combatting and preventing violent extremism organized by embassies, regional organizations and so on. He was commissioned to partake in developing policy documents on de-radicalization, and preventing violent extremism. His name reverberates in all meetings and conferences on combatting Boko Haram ideologies as a fearless commander in the intellectual war against terrorism who defeated the founder of the group, saving thousands of youths from extremist tendencies. As someone who has been in the business of interfaith dialogue, de-radicalization, and preventing violent extremism for at least 15 years now, I know this pretty well. I am not analyzing a secondary data here.   

But why all the mischief against Pantami? Why the enmity? It is hard to dismiss the fact that one of his major sins for which he is being witch-hunted is his being a Muslim, an Imam, and a Sheikh who occupies a position that some Islamophobes would never want to see a Muslim occupy. The fact that he, in an unprecedented manner, excellently combines ministerial and “Sheikhical” roles is not palatable to Islamophobes. How could a person leave the venue of the Federal Executive Council Meeting only to go straight to a mosque pulpit for Islamic preaching? They wonder! But this kind of thinking represents a typical case study of religious intolerance. As a pluralist nation, we must accept the fact that a Sheikh can be a Minister and an Imam can be a senator just as a Pastor has the right to be a Vice President and a Reverend Father a governor. Failure to accept living with this reality would continue to cause some people hypertension.

But is this the only reason why the vibrant Minister is being hunted? Even though it is one, there are others. Actually more serious ones. I believe the whole uproar needs to be situated in its proper context; as the calculated diversionary strategy that it actually is, by expert criminals who believe that the best defense is attack. They think by putting the Honorable Minister on the defensive, they would succeed in getting him abandon his long awaited project of linking SIM with NIN, which targets to bring an end to their business of criminality. Here is a Sheikh who has refused to dance to the tune of selfish criminals that have always used their privileges to milk the poor. He has refused to succumb to their corrupt offers. As the first and so far the only Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, he has doggedly pursued digital reforms that are systematically killing their crime economy? 

A major capital of these conflict entrepreneurs is modern communications technology. The indefatigable Minister Sheikh, on the other hand, has insisted on practical strategies that would eventually push them out of business. So for them, the fight against Pantami is the beginning and end of wisdom. It is the only guarantee for their survival in business. He promotes digital economy. They promote criminal economy. They are, simply, irreconcilable antagonists. It is worrying how we have failed to understand their game. Most of the discourse on the saga rather focuses on the shadows, doing the wish of these criminals; trying to defend Pantami on an issue that needs no any defense, rather than insisting on the success of the NIN-SIM and other related projects against their wish.  

What is expected of patriotic Nigerians from the North and the South, Muslims and non-Muslims, the elites and the masses, is to rally around Pantami by supporting the NIN-SIM and other good policies and ensure that together we work towards a better and safer Nigeria. And if the reward for hard work is more work, then what we should be thinking of is not only how to ensure Dr. Pantami succeeds as a Minister but also how to retain him within the influential political class so he would contribute more in making Nigeria a better place for all of us and to inspire young Nigerians towards joining the peaceful movement for better Nigeria.

Dr. Pantami is divinely destined to be a Sheikh, an Imam, a PhD, an international scholar, a NITDA DG and a powerful, promising Minister in Buhari’s cabinet. This is God’s making. No amount of blackmail can change it.  And if God has designed that he would hold a higher rank in the future, this campaign of defamation can only be a facilitator. He is not infallible. He is human. But a uniquely blessed one. Yes, his detractors see him as a man with so many sellable qualities that portend grave dangers to their selfish economic, political and religious interests. He would of course be a subject of envy being a man of faith, knowledge, wisdom, eloquence, hard work, determination, incorruptibility, doggedness, creativity, initiative and “finishiative”, as well as concern for the development of, and creating opportunities for young Nigerians; qualities that have collectively earned him a rapidly growing national political relevance.  But those calling for the resignation or the sack of the Digital Boss are deceiving themselves by dreaming that Buhari would expel the Digital Minister for doing exactly what the retired General invited him from Madina to come back home and do. He has only started. Sky is his limit. If not starting point! No amount of propaganda will make him resign. 

And for the records, Dr. Pantami owes nobody any apology for statements he made over 20 years ago which have been mutilated and deliberately mistranslated. In fact, what Pantami deserves is a national merit award for being consistent in his fight against violent extremism and banditry. He deserves commendations for being the first person to engage the leader of the dreaded Boko Haram in an organized debate that saved thousands of young Nigerians from the group’s dreaded path. He merits national commendation for his doggedness in making life difficult for bandits, terrorists and kidnappers as well as their financiers in the now highly insecure Nigeria. What he deserves are gold medals for his nearly two decades of consistent engagement in peace building, fighting violent extremism, promoting religious tolerance, and building interfaith understanding and harmony. He should be judged and rewarded by his current unequivocal stance against terrorism not based on isolated cases of mistakes he made during his enthusiastic youthful, student age. Patriotic, well-meaning Nigerians should be thinking of giving awards to the energetic Minister who, at the risk of being attacked from every angle by the godfathers, financiers and accomplices of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers, has remained resolute in using technology to end the insecurity that characterizes our dear nation. The wise doesn’t allow himself to be stung twice from the same hole. We should avoid aiding our foes in fighting our friends. We should shine our eyes. #IstandWithPantami#

THE ONGOING CAMPAIGN OF CALUMNY AGAINST DR PANTAMI; DEBUNKING ANOTHER LIE

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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 (contact.hidima@gmail.com)

KPEROGI THE FAKE FRIEND By Hashim Suleiman

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Farooq Kperogi, the self acclaimed friend of Pantami

When a society has demonstrated docility for so long, every opportune educationist and hypocrite will think they can hoodwink the people at the slightest opportunity. That’s what people like Farooq Kperogi do with their articles sometimes, perhaps to score a cheap point, advance their self acclaimed educational and grammatical supremacy or satisfy their paymasters. One of these must be the reason why Kperogi will write an article on his weekly ‘Notes from Atlanta’ claiming to be Pantami’s friend but could still lie against his friend, misconstrue his messages and malign him. Why go this low Prof!?

Is is disheartening to understand that regardless of how advanced Kperogi claims he is, he does not understand what it means to be friends with someone. I do understand that in our African clime, it is difficult to find friends because the word friendship has been dropped and acquaintanceship been utilized and mistook as friendship. This means that Kperogi should stop flaunting his America status and a way of advancement and act like an African where mischief is still very ripe because he acted like a grade one African this morning by joining the gang of Islamophobes and paid merchants. He has greatly disappointed some of us who still have a glimpse of expectations of objectivity and credibility around him.

He went ahead to ignorantly misconstrue Pantami’s preaching on the matter of extrajudicial killings and the issue of 9/11 era and what have you. Is Kperogi too deep in mischief to know that even Amnesty International usually questions and worries the security agencies over certain kinds of operations against the terrorist themselves by branding it extrajudicial killings? If Kperogi is as intelligent as he claims he is then he should know the place of Rule of Law. In the war front, yes the enemies must be crushed but in a situation where you get to arrest, the only appropriate thing is prosecution.

Is it also a lie that the economic terrorist of the Niger Delta were given amnesty? What in that speech did Pantami said that was a lie, why claim to be a friend and still go ahead to malign him? Is that Kperogi’s understanding of friendship? No that’s fake friendship classical of being used as tutorship material for upcoming ones on how to identify one.

If you listen to major motivational speakers, preachers and conscience musicians nowadays, one of their major topics of discussion is how to identify and avoid fake friends because of how vile and dangerous they can be, perhaps this is part of Pantami’s answered prayers on exposure of enemies within and if the Sheik had in the words of Kperogi been extending hand of his  kindness or any form of information to Kperogi, he must desist henceforth, including mutual acquaintances which he met through him.

What is Koerogi’s level of Islamic education that he thinks he qualifies to x-ray sermons and preachings and actually advance the true meanings of them? Like Sheikh Pantami said, Islamic teachings are not personal opinions. The Quran has never changed since its inception and never will. The messages therein are permanent which must be accepted and taught they way they are. Kperogi claims he likes reading so he may want to take another degree in Islamic studies but for now he has not demonstrated enough knowledge to dissect Islamic teachings and doctrines.

Kperogi shouldn’t have claimed been a friend and just go ahead to publish his vile because at the moment his article did nothing other than expose him as a snitch, a hypocrite and perhaps a terrorist apologist since they are claiming the Sheikh is one when he is not because he should remember that ‘birds of same feather flock together’.

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

DR ISA ALI PANTAMI AND HIS PREACHINGS AGAINST TERROR AND EXTREMISM; SETTING THE RECORDS CLEAR By Dr Abubakar Hidima

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Dr Isa Ali Pantami

In the last few days, Nigeria’s social media has been visited with another intensified campaign against the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami. 

Although these attacks did not start today, and certainly will not end today because of the spectrum of persons his personand recent activities as a Minister has touched. The sudden re-emergence of the renown scholar’s political opinions of the past years to public discourse among certain people is not surprising at all. Although, many would say “WHY NOW”? and why the multifaceted attacks? Your guess is as good as mine. 

So unlike the easy-going Dr. Pantami that many of us know, the sensitivity of the spate of allegations and mischievous attacks has necessitated the Minister to seek for legal recourse. To so many people that know the person of Pantami, this comes as a surprise to them, especially that he is someone who most times chooses to settle issues in a laid-back manner, such that no hassle is involved. This can be seen in his spectacular method of engagement with others when they disagree. You may never find a time he engaged a particular scholar or dwell on such even in the face of personal attacks he has suffered in the cause of his preaching activities. But closely looking at this scenario, the Minister’s action on taking legal action against the disparagers is not surprising, especially that the ill-intended publications by several print and online media houses were calculated to soil the reputation of the Minister and a renown Islamic Scholar who has spent close to two decades preaching austerely against the same evil they are struggling to link him with. 

Until his appearance in the Nigerian Political Sphere, Dr. Pantami has continually held opinions that not only de-radicalise thousands of youths faced with the challenge of radical ideas, he has also spent most of his valuable times to educate the youths whose illiteracy about the religion has led them into embracing such ideologies. This might not be very clear to many, especially if you do not have a first-hand experience on the emergence of Radical Ideologies in the early 2000s in Nigerian Universities. I personally had my first encounter with Dr. Pantami when I was a 100 Level Petroleum Engineering Student, at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi when he was a Lecturer in Information Technology. I met him close to the Lecture Theatre we call “LE” in the company of my friend, who was also an undergraduate student of Chemical Engineering. We met the Minister after he parked his car and was walking to the School of Science and Science Technology. We said the Islamic greetings, which he responded and stretched his hand to us for a shake. We shook hands, and he passed a message to us, a message that imparted on me personally to date. His message after asking us about our studies was simply, “Make sure you excel in what brought you here from your different states, donot disappoint your parent, What you do not understand in class, ask the next person, We are all students here.” These few lines stuck to my memory and served as my inspiration throughout my years in ATBU. Unknown to many of us, who were just new in the environment, Dr. Pantami was to be not only a moral guide to many of us and a teacher of Islamic tenets, but one in whose hands many youths would be saved from the hurricane of radical ideologies. His sermons and almost daily teachings have shaped the lives of thousands that are today important members of the society. 

After the most recent attempt by some online media to sell a totally awkward and false news about the US listing the Honorable Minister on a watch list, and their sudden U-turn after realizing the obvious legal battle they are driving themselves into, then comes the publication from some otherFake News Merchants, where the same effort is being made albeit in a manipulative manner. One would not be surprised, because by now, it is clear to every right thinking person that the Nigerian media is littered with not only unprofessional reporters and publishers, but carriers of mischief and spite. If you take time to follow almost all the allegations, you will understand that:1. They were almost all cut in between statements from lectures or talks he presented which in the average last for 60 minutes or more. 2. Most of the talks are academic presentations from Islamic Perspectives, where he makes discerning clarifications as to why Muslims cannot attack others because of what is happening to Muslims in other places. 

For instance, the Yelwan Shendam Crisis in Plateau state was a very sensitive issue at that time. As a scholar and mentor, who enjoys a wide support and loyalty of thousands of youth, he had a responsibility to speak about it, which he did, an effort that prevented reprisal attacks. It is laughable that when these agents of evil decide to pick places of interests (POI) in order to achieve their ungodly plans of tarnishing the image of the Minister, they failed to pick at those points where he has spoken largely against Terrorism, reprisal attacks even in the face of provocations as well as preach peaceful co-existence. And just come to think of it, if Dr. Pantami has been preaching extremism or has had ties with any terror group, how come you do not find his students fronting insurgency or terrorism in Nigeria? A man who has spent more than 20 years of his 48 years in life teaching men and women, children and aged people, yet did not form a battalion of terrorists waging war against the Nigerian state? Contrary to that, what Dr. Pantami was able to formulate is a team of purposeful youths, today holding significant places home and abroad, and with good record in their places of work.. 

I remember something that happened sometimes around 2004, when a delegation was sent to meet Dr. Pantami about his method of preaching, despite the various religious crisis that had engulfed the nation. That delegation happens to be of some youths that have radical opinions, which Dr. Pantami do not hold. To understand the extent of the Minister’s philosophy and prognostication, he invited almost all his students within the University Campus (because that was where those visitors met him at), He asked the spokesperson of the delegation to repeat his message, which he did and we all listened. That was when Dr. Pantami exhibited a high sense of responsibility as a mentor and teacher; clarified the misconception by those youths and spoke to us at a longer length why we must study Islam deep enough to identify alien ideologies. How can such a man have ties with such radical groups?

On Dr. Pantami’s position about the war in Afghanistan, I deliberately decided I speak on it at the end of this very short article for obvious reasons. Largely, it is because, only Ignorant chumps do not know that the war in Afghanistan has been a bone of contention among even non-Muslim scholars. Do you expect such a myopic and mischievous publications to go beyond the surface and seek for more information? No. They know that majority of their audience are as gloomy as they are. For instance, Ryan T. Williams, an Assistant Professor of Law, at Western State University College law has discussed in details a political opinion he holds about the war in Afghanistan, in his article, “Dangerous Precedent: America’s Illegal War in Afghanistan”. His and several other positions aired by scholars around the world centre on the legality or otherwise of America’s intervention in the politics of other countries and how the use of force in international Law is largely outlawed, “except in three circumstances; in self-defence, pursuant to a United Nations Security Council resolution, or with the consent from the leader of an invaded state”. I will also recommend the book authored by Carlotta Gall, entitled: “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001 to 2014”. In addition to several other Books that have detailed the politics of the war in Afghanistan and the positions of world scholars on the war, from Muslims and Non-Muslim writers. I also recommend the book, “In Defense of Islam, in the Light of September 11”, for anyone who wants to see how the Scholars of Sunnah speak against Terrorism and such ideologies. 

To end this short article, it is pertinent to note that Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is not what these underlings and propaganda dogs want the world to believe. He is human, and he makes mistakes. But linking him to any form of Terrorism or ties with terrorists is ludicrous and reckless. Whatever the motives of the perpetrators of this unsold lies are, they will be put to shame.

Dr Abubakar Hidima (contact.hidima@gmail.com)

ISLAMOPHOBIC ATTACK AS MOBILIZATION OF MORE FOLLOWERS INTO PANTAMI’S ENORMOUS GOODWILL BANK By Hashim Suleiman

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Dr Isa Ali Pantami delivering the annual Ramadan lecture.

I have gleaned with utmost interest how a supposed political slander or blackmail has slid into islamophobia perhaps without the understanding of the authors and that is most unfortunate. While reading some of the latest articles regarding Pantamis’s preaching in the past which bordered on terrorism tendencies as well as public service matters, I developed much concern about how being an Islamic scholar has turned into a sort of a ping pong ball for every Tom, dick and Harry who wishes to score a cheap political point using Islam and this cannot be acceptable because those sort of people require education about Islam and how just like Christianity or any cause in the world Islam equally deserves to have scholars who must be respected even if their teachings don’t make sense to the non- muslims.

What even caught me most was my attempt to understand the motive behind such publications. I thought it to be definitely political considering the timing of it and the growing interest in Pantami becoming a Vice President to any candidate from the south. So could be it be an attempt to whittle down Pantami’s acceptability ahead of 2023? If yes, that it’s a wrong calculation using islamophobia especially if they could remember quickly the recent case with Buhari whom Islamophobia made even more popular and finally catapulted him to the presidency by returning the bloc votes of the northern and southern Muslims alike.

Are the promoters of such publications attempting to help the Muslims identify terrorists amongst them? That will be funny and cheap to say the least because the Muslims in Nigeria have been known to always distance themselves from what affects their religion in bad light mostly through the ballots or even protests and all. The promoters couldn’t have been trying to remind Muslims about what’s going on in their religion.

They also went ahead to share preachings of Dr Pantami and I couldn’t also understand if they were trying to teach Muslims how to understand and decipher through Islamic teachings or perhaps trying to insist that non-Muslims must hate Muslims and see every Muslim preacher as a terrorist or sympathizer. Both scenarios are extremely counter productive and should have been thought twice before publishing or engaging in.

Regarding the issue about participation in public service or not, let me refer you to my earlier article titled ‘Pantami and his citizen right to political opinion’ which can be found here https://dailytrust.com/pantami-and-his-citizen-right-to-political-opinion. I highlighted a scenario where we had all harbored different opinions about the polity in different times depending on the variables and scenarios at the time. Pantami started his preaching and education journey so early in life and that is commendable and sort of mentorship for upcoming generations. He must have grown in experience and understanding of the world politics and must be seen so many things different  while the enormous knowledge of Islam that he is endowed with remains same. Therefore those opinions are immaterial especially because the attitude of the players at the time was enough to make one despise politics and public service. Pantami has however used the opportunity given to him to showcase leadership to be different from those times.

In view of the foregoing, it will be foolhardy to insist on trying to drag the religion of Islam just to make an Islamic scholar look bad before his fellow Muslims and reasonable Christians who through the emergence of Buhari have since understood some of these cheap games. What you end up doing instead is making Pantami more popular especially amongst Muslims whose religion you’re ignorantly trying to drag to pass home your ill thought out strategy.  

Let me take you to history lane to understand that it was same sort of narratives that made Buhari’s profile to rise amongst the Muslim population to extent that the Kardashian states started to chunk out the millions of votes that made Buhari a two term president and the rest is history.

Finally, on behalf of Dr Isa Pantami, I wish to thank the proponents of those mischievous publications for having increased the level of his goodwill to the extent of also vindicating our earlier affirmation of the #DigitalAgenda23 as most ideal political ideology for the 2023 and beyond. Clearly they have succeeded in assembling all the political goodwill that a southern presidential candidate requires to win the election on the feet of Dr Isa Ali Pantami. The various political elites and pundits must take note of this going forward!

God bless Nigeria!

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

2023 AND THE FEAR OF PANTAMI By Hashim Suleiman

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Dr Isa Pantami and President Muhammadu Buhari

As a nation, it has been in our DNA to always go after our best hands when they show themselves using the ‘Pull Him Down’ syndrome but this cannot continue forever because some of us are here to put facts right for the purpose of posterity and our nations progress. No nation has grown without capable hands and for the sake of our children and those yet unborn, capable people should be protected as much as our mineral resources, that’s how important they are.

There has been some fake news going round in the social media regarding Dr Isa Pantami’s link with terrorist organizations and I find that most unfortunate especially when I see the caliber of individuals who share such unfounded story that is neither coming officially from the United States nor reported by any credible media outfit. The only likely thing one can relate to such is the work of spin doctors for some sinister purposes or albeit political purposes. I choose to align more with the latter.

You may recall that we had been highlighting the Digital Agenda as the best political option for the 2023 and beyond and naturally it has been well received by the citizenry to the extent that Dr Isa Pantami has emerged as the most suitable choice for the Vice Presidency of the country owing to the need for returning power back to the south for national unity and cohesion purposes. Since we had been advertising the matter as political participation agenda, we will also be unrealistic to not expect the such of smear campaigns even though this particular one went crude and showcased a people who lack tact and strategy.

How can a man who was the only cleric in the nation that had an open debate against the Boko Haram beliefs with late Muhammad Yusuf now have ties with same man. The videos of such debate is a public property on YouTube since the propagators of the lies are supposedly internet savvy, they should have known about it, perhaps. It was even on the account of his opposition to the sect that he had to relocate to the United Kingdom to further his education up to the Doctorate Degree level. Would someone align with Education is a Sin mentality and also choose to go and pursue education up to that height? Cheap lies indeed have short life span.

Furthermore, the propagators are supposedly respecters of the United Kingdom and the United States and do they in their very cheap thoughts think the UK would have harbored a man with the imaginary ties they described in their domain for several years and even awarded him a doctorate degree from the prestigious Robert Gordon University? Why must politics remain cheap in this country? The Digital Agenda thinks way bigger than that and that’s why it has become so intimidating to attract such big lies but guess what? It has just been punctured.

The ties between Dr Pantami and the United States is also public knowledge trough his alliances with the MIT in Massachusetts and the Harvard University also. Or do the spin doctors think America would also allow who they described obtain such prestigious certificates without vetting and identification. In fact, the US regards Pantami in very high esteem.

Again, before Dr Pantami was appointed the DG of NITDA and subsequently a Minister of the Republic, security vetting is conducted by Nigeria’s security apparatchik so where do you place all that. It is so easy to be like or better that Pantami and all you have to do is obtain appropriate education and skill. That way you will need less of spin doctors and propaganda but concentrate more on strategy and track records.

As for Dr Pantami, he has been tested and trusted and he is only going to continue to run on his records!

May God Bless Nigeria

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

INVOLVEMENT IS A MAJOR KEY TO NIGERIA’S BENEFITS By Hashim Suleiman

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So many people who nag and complain about the non workability of Nigeria or desire to relocate are only lazy and don’t understand how to benefit from Nigeria in my opinion. And this is why I had since believed in President Buhari’s assertion of Nigerian youths being lazy.

As imperfect as Nigerias system is for which I don’t even believe it will ever become to what the people I described above want of it, so many Nigerians are becoming great and living well albeit with some patience and contentment which form the basic attributes of living a good life the world over.

You may not be able to understand what some of us are talking about till you travel around and see for yourself how truck loads of goods travel between one point and another with the people in the entire chain making good money and living a good life in their various levels. Such also has to come with very less bigotry and an open mind.

Because we are patriotic and truly wish well of this country and it’s people, let me today share free secret about how you can live in Nigeria and benefit of it big time; it is so simple; Involvement. Nigeria likes that you get involved in her activities without assuming in any way that it will be an easy ride devoid of the usual challenges of life that one could face anywhere in the world including Canada, don’t mind the little sarcasm here, the people I described in paragraph one know exactly what I’m talking about.

Involvement does not only relate to politics, it involves everything; business, entertainment, religious activities, NGO, activism and so on. You have to be present in the activities, you have to be humble to learn , you have to give in your all and once you gain admission, your ‘Chairman’ position has been confirmed and you can flaunt it if you like.

If you analyze the comment of the young people who feel disappointed and want to relocate, it is that of expecting a perfect system before they can venture in anything. A perfect system that they see in American movies or that which is propagated to them through social media of which they practically know nothing about. There is no free meal anywhere. Get your mind right.

It was the same imperfect system that has landed Wizkid and Burnaboy Grammy awards while Tiwa Savage grabbed a nomination. They never waited for a perfect system, in fact Tiwa relocated back to Nigeria before she could earn her stardom. Furthermore, it was after the event that some of us got to know that Michael Babatunde Olatunji had since won the award in 1991 with Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum projects. Pa Michael did not have to wait for drums to become digital before he worked had on his music to merit a Grammy award.

By the way, between Pa Michael’s time till now Nigeria has grown so much in many aspects, ask progressive governors like Tinubu, Kwankwaso and Wike and they would tell you how Lagos, Portharcourt and Kano are far more developed than they were during Pa Michaels time. States where there are less progress are those states that have minimal involvement in the democratic process from the citizenry. So get involved today!

To  buttress the importance of involvement without giving any credence to violence and waywardness, you  could see how miscreants also end up with attention and perhaps compensations for getting involved albeit in the most negative ways. Little did they even know that they could get involved in so many other ways and still reap the appropriate benefits with less risks and sustainability assurances. Involvement and appropriate concerns by the citizenry can also help us solve the whole insecurity problem, everything must not be heaped on the government like is currently the case, we have to care for our communities and get involved.

Even people from the religious fronts like Sheikh Pantami and Pastor Osinbajo decided to participate in the system by being involved and today they have used the opportunity to showcase their ingenuities and Nigeria is better for it.

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala did not have to be a bigot nor gloat over electoral victories or losses. All she did was to get involved with the nation and it paid off appropriately with the latest emergence as WTO DG amongst all other positions she had held in and outside Nigeria.

Nigeria is 200 million people and more, it is a developing economy and  such makes it a major market, if people from the outside can recognize its potentials and come to tap it, what more of us from the inside who have chosen to not participate but rant from all corners over unrealistic expectations that have never happened anywhere without some deliberate work been put in by the citizenry.

Before any of us criticizes, we should first ponder on how much we have chosen a path to get involved in that has not paid. But I can tell you for free that Nigeria does reciprocate with commensurate involvement!

May God bless Nigeria!

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

CRUDE POLITICS AS MAJOR ENABLER OF CRISES IN SOCIETIES By Hashim Suleiman

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Growing up, one could easily differentiate the peace that was enjoyed during the military regimes and the crises that have been occasioned by the emergence of democracy. The military regime had the capacity to deploy swift responses to unrests that erupted and it also has capacity to hire and fire without any fear of political backlashes. There were whimsical tendencies over pronouncement of policies and cancellation of any. Such makes the citizenry to develop and live with fear of consequences for negative actions that were capable of disturbing the peace of the society.

The need for respect for hierarchy and successions also makes appointed individuals to have the zeal to succeed on given appointments and there’s also less familiarities with people you’re superintending over because like in state governments, the administrators are usually not from the various states they are posted to so the relationship automatically becomes that of work and delivery. Little wonder why the major achievements in the nation had been arguably made during the military eras where processes were mostly whimsical alongside the bureaucratic processes, a combination that somewhat worked less for freedom of speech and association which was largely absent.

Fast forward to the emergence of democracy where expectations were that of freedom of association and participation as good as they are but with their resultant challenges which could sometimes threaten the basic existence of the society. Democracy is indeed supposed to be a very progressive mode of governance owing to the opportunity for participation by all of the members of the society containing people with different modes of ingenuity. However, the only Ingredients to getting the optimum benefits of this beautiful democracy as described above is the sanity of the players. How sane are our own players in Nigeria? The crises that have ridden the nation and their resultant causes are a perfect answer to that.

A check into the major crises that had engulfed Nigeria from the emergence of democracy in 1999 to date showcases them to be a result of political militias that had been formulated for the sake of overpowering opponents and then ultimately transforming into monsters that cannot be tamed by even those who brought about them in the first place. The only thing that can make one choose to make such a decision of employing militias for election victory is intellectual weakness to be able to formulate strategies that are sound enough to win elections.

Our democracy has only harbored very intellectually lazy individuals who see elections as a ‘do-or-die’ affair thanks also to the lucrative nature of the politics even though that is normal everywhere. The people who feel they are intellectuals prefer to sit by the side to analyze and criticize and surprisingly also, when some of them get the opportunity to get in, they transform to become like the others and the cycle keeps rotating. The infiltration of these thuggish people into Nigeria’s political space is majorly responsible for Nigerias current state and something requires to be done to save the imminent breakdown of the society.

A lot of people had encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari to employ a military tactic in  dealing with lots of issues just like President Obasanjo did which worked for him in the cases of Plateau, Benue, Ekiti and Bayelsa. People however forget that the circumstances have changed in the sense that democracy had just come during Obasanjo while it has become more entrenched now with different lawyers interpreting the constitution the way they deem fit, most times sentimentally.

I was having a conversation with a friend lately over the likelihood of the emergence of Kashim Shettima as the National chairman of the APC with a view to cleansing the political system to pay more attention to excellence as against brigandage as qualification for political participation. I totally concurred with such idea owing to the feat Kashim had attained in Borno with the support he gave to a brave professor to succeed him as governor and the progress such has brought to the state is story for another day. In fact, a university professor had emerged as a local government chairman in the recently held local councils elections and such is exemplifying cleansing of the system.

It is all of these that has made us to continue to encourage participation in the system especially by those who feel they have got what it takes to lead and make a difference. Those who believe that only ideas and strategies can win them elections and not thuggery and guns. Such and more are what is fueling the #DigitalAgenda23 with a view of propelling Dr Isa Ali Pantami as our mentor while all of us follows as proponents to expand the ideology for national development.

May the Lord help us with our efforts to sanitize our polity for national developments. Ameen!  

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com