Recently, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, was promoted to the apex academic rank of a Professor of Cyber Security by the reputable Federal University of Technology, Owerri in Imo state, Nigeria.
However, since the conferment of the professorship, the media, both the conventional and online, have been awash with accolades and congratulatory messages. in fact, some prominent personalities within the academia, business and political cycles have placed advertisements in major newspapers in the country. This, without a doubt, is an ample demonstration of the fact that the minister, besides being a detribalised Nigerian, is also being appreciated by the larger segments of the Nigerian society. Notwithstanding this display of massive solidarity there exist the marginal nay sayers who have contrary views and are doing what they have as their only stock in trade – envy, evil machination and campaign of calumny.
But the fact and basic truth is that, even the adversaries of Professor Pantami cannot deny the fact that in the annals of Nigeria’s history and the workings of the Federal Executive Council, Pantami would be remembered as a minister who knows his onion and demonstrated the essence of professionalism in the choice of the executive committee.
In fairness to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his cabinet was also largely formed in consideration of individual areas of proficiency and professionalism; Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, former Minister of Finance; Dr. Obi Ezekwesili, former Minister of Solid Mineral and later Education. Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, former Minister of National Planning and Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development were some of the finest professionals selected to serve at the Federal Executive Council devoidwith any of their political affiliation. Today, they are still doing wonderfully well in the world and not just in Nigeria or Africa.
Equally, in the case of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, Professor Pantami is one indisputable square peg in a square hole. His record of achievements in the academia and the complex field of information and communication technology underscores this fact.
Today, the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has impressively remained one ministry where Nigeria seems to be working in spite of the glaring challenges bordering on economy and security. The agencies under the ministry are graciously and effectively working. These agencies include the National Informational Technology Development Agency, NITDA; Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC; Galaxy Backbone; Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited, NigComSat; Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST; and the Universal Service Provision Fund, USPF. They are for the first time brought to the limelight with massive economic viability.
It is, therefore, not surprising that while Nigerians at home and in the diaspora are ecstatically applauding Pantami, some unscrupulous and hired elements are also busy trying to drag his reputation in the mud. The recent rage by some of them over his professorship is another storm soon to be cleared like any other surmounted in the previous episodes – while they rage, Pantami soars higher than ever before.
Imagine a scenario where a school drop-out, secondary school leaver or an ordinary graduate has the temerity to question the unanimous decision of the Senate of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri – all because Pantami was one of those promoted to the rank of a professor and his adversaries are jumpy about it. Although, Pantami was not the only one who was promoted but because of the conspiracy of some unscrupulous characters, less attention was paid to the others; no one bothered to question their eligibility for the promotions.
Sadly, for a self-acclaimed UK based professor to join the bandwagon of Pantami’s critics is, to say the least, the height of conspiracy. It is the prerogative of the senate of every university to promote qualified individuals based on the defined academic requirements. Consequently, to accuse the entire Senate of the University of Technology, Owerri of compromising their standard just to favour Pantami smacks of a smear on both the reputable institution and the erudite scholar, Professor Isa Ali Pantami.
It is now confirmed that Pantami is a Professor of Cyber Security and whoever is not comfortable with this indubitable fact should quickly visit any hospital where those suffering from ‘acute begrudgements’ are treated. Pantami has moved on and no amount of campaign of calumny and illogical criticism would make him derail from his determination of deploying his God endowed skills in getting this country out of the woods.
Laughably enough, while the enemies of progress were busy shouting, the workaholic Professor was presenting the National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) Network for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council.
Let me round off with the words of Harold Coffin, “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own”.
Dr Bala writes from Abuja