A LOOK AT THE PANTAMI VS DABIRI DEBATE

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The recent misunderstanding between the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has generated debates, accusations and counter-accusations, feminism issues and the use of Nigeria’s fault lines. Thus, the debaters were grouped into three – supporters of Minister Pantami, supporters of DG Dabiri, and those on the middle ground.

For example, Dr. MD Aminu, an academic and a columnist with the Daily Trust and Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga, a media consultant with Atiku Media Organisation – were critical of Dabiri: Dr. Aminu was of the view that Dabiri played sexuality and gender as well as exhibited ignorance by ridiculing Pantami’s Ph.D. from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Aminu said: “There are several wrongs with Abike Dabiri’s comments on Dr. Isa Ali Pantami. She played gender/sexuality to elicit sympathy. Then she ridiculed the minister’s UK postgraduate degree. But by that action, she was unconsciously admitting and validating the inferiority of her own education. For instance, the minister wouldn’t have a reason to mock her postgraduate degree from Akoka. To understand Dabiri’s resistance, one only needs to study Foucault’s theorization of power which explains that when a person resists power or authority, they’re unconsciously submitting to the superiority of that which is being resisted. When you see someone from Akoka ridiculing UK education (arguably an envy of the world, with apologies to Barack Obama), they’re only submitting to its superiority over their own education”.

On his part, Na-Allah said “Abike Dabiri disappointed me going outside the boundary of reason can defeat your argument or cause. Abike Dabiri was wrong to have introduced gender and religion into her open altercation with Communications Minister Isa Pantami. She said that an Islamic scholar shouldn’t lie and that the Minister is bullying her because she is a woman. Na Allah further stated: “These emotional arguments are totally irrelevant to the issue and shouldn’t have been introduced in the first place. The manipulation of emotions by our elites is disgusting. If the Minister had given her some contracts or her friends, or did her some lucrative favours, she wouldn’t have told the story of a “lying Islamic scholar” and a “women’s hater.” The exploitation of religion and gender to elicit sympathy is irresponsible- according to Na-Allah.

On his part, a veteran journalist, Timawus Mathias, was on Dabiri’s side, he said: “In the conflict between Abike Dabiri and Minister Pantami, I am on Abike’s side without giving Pantami a chance. Don’t say that Abike and I are NTA alumni. But what if? I blame Pantami and I don’t even know the details of the feud. He is a man and big brother. He owes it to us that we do not hear this type of crap”.

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Mexico, Aminu Iyawa said: “The newspapers were awash on May 24, 2020 with a reported outburst by the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in which she accused the Communications and Digital Economy Minister of blocking her and her staff entry to their new office at the NCC Annex building.

“I have watched a video on one of the social media platforms showing the Diaspora Commission CEO alleging that the Minister had “armed men blocked my staff from entry” and that her entire staff now have no office to work in and neither were they allowed to retrieve their computers and other office equipment.

As indicting as it may sound, you begin to get confused when the reports further quoted her saying that she already put up an official complaint.
If she officially complained, then why not wait for the outcome, and probably do a follow up if it is taking long? But why go to the press and embarrass the administration? Both Minister Pantami and Mrs. Debri-Erewa are senior members of this administration, and ought to know better than to go public with such administrative issue that could be amicably resolved between themselves – one-on-one or through the SGF. Both public officers are symbols of the President Buhari Government and therefore, must tread with caution and stay above board. This feud is absolutely unnecessary and the parties must seize swords and wait for the official response to the complaint filed by Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa.”

One interesting thing is; especially in the northern part of the country, the issue has become very political and emotional especially among the youth and some politicians. Dr. Pantami is a young man but a highly revered Islamic scholar who has the ears of the President, and to many enthusiasts of the politics of 2023 presidential elections– Pantami is a strong potential vice -presidential candidate from the north.
Zayyad I. Muhammad, Jimeta, Adamawa State