RIGHT OF REPLY: Before We Crucify Sheik Pantami, By Susan Emelefor
Oga Pantami symbolises two of the greatest problems in Nigeria today: (1.) aggression of power, and (2.) disregard for women. This must not be allowed to go unnoticed. I salute Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and see it as only right that Oga Pantami accord her a deserving apology. This is a woman of distinction and morality, a woman that all women and men should emulate, celebrate and appreciate.
I felt the need to respond to this write up done by my fellow woman, Oluwakemi Ola. I recall in sincere innocence sometime in March this year, as I sat in front of my television, watching a live programme, and seeing the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mallam Isa Pantami, snatch a microphone from the hands of the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, forcing him to stop speaking. This notorious act singlehandedly put me in complete and utter shock, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was also present at the said programme. This incident simply portrayed the sheer arrogance of the minister, and I was not really surprised when his debacle with Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa came to the front burner.
Now, my dear sister Oluwakemi Ola, wrote an article and maybe because she is based in London, failed to witness that particular incident, but she should kindly visit any of the stations to get a playback of the taping of such a shameful act that happened in our dear country. Now, let us get some things clear: Abike Dabiri-Erewa spent fifteen years in active service at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and did not play the feminist card then. A role model who everyone of sound mind and integrity looks up to, she has contested elections three times, and was a member of parliament for 12 solid years. Even on her campaign train, not once did she ask that she be voted for based on her gender, but asked that her votes be based on the quality of her capability as an individual, and the great works she is known for. As such, making claims that the feminist card is being played is simply absurd.
Let us analyse the situation, shall we? Oga Pantami was given a tour of the NCC Annex building in March, where he saw the fifth-floor space that was allocated to (and in use) by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission. Liking what he had seen, and wanting it for whatever reason, shouldn’t Oga Pantami, as the almighty minister, have summoned the chairman of the Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa to discuss? He failed to simply place a call through to the chairman, who at the time was in Addis Ababa on official assignment with the president. It was completely unnecessary that action was taken based on his instructions, without Abike’s consent, who on her return came to see how her entire offices were destroyed, the staff locked out, and all property belonging to the Commission made inaccessible since February till date.
Oga Pantami refused to see the need to condescend to have talks with a woman, as left to him and in his imaginary world, women are not to be seen or heard, and should only belong to his harem of wives and concubines. If Abike fails to stand up and speak out, who will? Where is the hope for the Nigerian woman, if a woman of her calibre can be mistreated and disregarded as such, and in a manner totally unacceptable? I do not know his age, neither do I know the age of Abike, but I believe she is years older than he is.
Oga Pantami symbolises two of the greatest problems in Nigeria today: (1.) aggression of power, and (2.) disregard for women. This must not be allowed to go unnoticed. I salute Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and see it as only right that Oga Pantami accord her a deserving apology. This is a woman of distinction and morality, a woman that all women and men should emulate, celebrate and appreciate. So, Madam Oluwakemi Ola, I think you should get your facts right and reach out to Oga Pantami to tender his apology to Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the entire Nigerian women. To conclude, and following Oluwakemi’s pattern of quotes, let me end with this, asking that Ms. Ola passes it on to Oga Pantami: “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person” – Leo Tolstoy.
Susan Emelefor wrote from the United States. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.