Pantami’s professorship debate and 2023

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The debate on the legitimacy of Prof. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami’s professorship is back.

The national executive council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said that the conferment of professor on the minister of communication and digital economy, Pantami, didn’t follow the laid-down procedures of the Nigerian university system. The union directed all its members and branches throughout the country not to recognise, accord, or treat Isah All Ibrahim Pantami as a professor of cybersecurity under any guise. On the other hand, the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Owerri (FUTO), Prof. Nnenna Oti, has said that the management of FUTO will litigate against ASUU’s rejection of Pantami’s promotion to the rank of a professor of cyber security by FUTO. When asked to comment on the issue, Pantami said, ‘No comment, no comment, no comment, the matter is in court’.

The 2023 electioneering, horse-trading, politicking, and strategising have begun. Thus, the debate on Pantami’s professorship will linger, especially, in the political arena, notwithstanding the litigation. How Pantami’s political handlers manage the issue will determine the direction and weight of the debate, including the political impact on him while the manner with which FUTO’s lawyers handle the issue will determine the direction and weight of the debate, including the political impact on him while the manner with which FUTO’s lawyers handle the issue will determine the future of Pantami’s professorship.

Pantami an Islamic sheikh, a UK-trained Ph.D holder has found himself in a triangular situation – a federal political appointee, an Islamic sheikh and an academic. This revered status means any issue that affects his personality will always be a hot one. Most of the people who criticised Pantami’s appointment as a professor were academics. So, ASUU’s NEC stand is not a surprise. Equally, the majority of those who supported the critics were Pantami’s political adversaries and their supporters Pantami – a Minister and a potential political – office aspirant will never escape public censure. The supporters of Pantami’s professorship are academics who have soft spot for him, members of religious bodies, his students and his political friends, and those sitting on the fence.

In retrospect, the FUTO chapter of ASUU had set up a five-man panel chaired by Prof. M. S. Nwakaudu, with members: G.A. Anyanwu, C. E. Orji, Mrs. O.P. Onyewuchi; and T. I. N. Ezejiofor (Member/Secretary), which cleared the appointment and asserted that due process was followed, a verdict that gave Pantami and FUTO some respite. Now, ASUU NEC has reversed the verdict, giving Pantami’s political opponents more strength to fire at him more.

PpPantami’s political allies, supporters, and students will be prayerful for the court of law to clear this issue once and for all. This is because to all Pantami’s supporters, his professorship is a big addition to his already ‘unmatched’ credentials in his own rights. Pantami’s supporters are of the view that he is young, highly educated with a PhD. from the United Kingdom (UK) at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. They argue that, politically, Pantami is a good material to balance a presidential ticket. He is from North-east Nigeria and fits into the agitation for the zone to present the vice-presidential candidate in 2023. He is a household name in the North-west. They will feel at home with him – he is their cousin. He is an Islamic scholar with a very large cult-like followership nationwide. Pantami is Buhari’s strong confidant and ally. The general belief among Pantami’s promoters is; Pantami from the North-east as vice-presidential candidate with any presidential candidate from the South, especially the South-west, will balance a presidential ticket and serve as a strategy for the APC to retain the presidency in 2023. Nevertheless, opposition against Pantami’s professorship will continue to have a field-day, hitting him hard while his political rivals will clap for them, as the nation awaits the court’s verdict on the professorship.

Zayyad I. Muhammad,
08036070980, [email protected]

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