Nigerian Minister Linked To Alleged ‘Rented Crowd’ Drama

Oseni Rufai (L), Reuben Abati (R) straightnews
Oseni Rufai (L), Reuben Abati (R)

Popular Nigerian commentators/analysts in Arise News ha taken the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami to the cleaners for his alleged involvement in what they regarded as ‘rented crowd drama.’

Dr. Reuben Abati and Rufai Oseni speaking in Arise TV News programme on Thursday, April 29 described the so-called solidarity and peaceful march by some Bishops and women for the Minister as shameful and borne of ignorance and unemployment.

According to them, the Minister in saner clime would have resigned now to save his public image and that of the government in power, wondering what he is doing in the midst of such grave allegations against him.

In the past weeks, there have been calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Pantami over his past views supporting and links with Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, terrorist groups by US State Department to place the Minister in their watch-list.

Shortly after leakage and condemnations, the Nigerian Presidency threw its weight behind the Minister despite damning accusations, surfacing videos and mounting pressure for the government to relieve him of the appointment.   

In what looked like a face-saving measure, a self-claimed Forum of Bishops and Clergy Council Society of Nigeria, Tuesday, held a solidarity and peace rally in support of Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who has been criticised by Nigerians for past comments.

The solidarity rally was said to have been held in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Some members of the group were seen carrying such placards with inscriptions as “Continue with your Good Work, Mr. President”, “Our Unity is above Religion, Politics, and Tribe”, “Vote of Confidence on Dr. Isa Pantami”, “Nigeria First”, “The Unity of Nigeria is Mon-negotiable” and “Dr. Isa Pantami Vindicated at Last.”

Moreover, some women dressed like Muslims with Hijabs were also seen carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Continue with your good work Mr President’, ‘Nigeria first’, ‘Dr Isa Pantami is not a terrorist sympathiser’, ‘Thank you Mr President for not yielding to blackmail’, ‘Our unity is above religion, politics and tribe’ among others.

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Some of the women covered their faces with the banners while other members of the group tried to hide their identities.

Abati condemned the attitude of Nigerian political office holders from always shying from the truth and always playing hide-and-seek game to keep office at any cost.

He lampooned the group of women who covered their faces like masquerades as a way of hiding their identities.

He deplored a similar incident occurred in United Kingdom where peaceful demonstrators staged solidarity march for President Buhari then on a medical check-up in the country equally using facemasks and banners to cover their faces.

The journalist cum editor attributed ‘hired crowd’ to unemployment and hunger in the land, thus making people to engage in moral debasement contrary to their conscience.

Rufai was particularly angry that in this age some people are still gripped in ignorance and hypocrisy, seen as the bane of the country’s underdevelopment.

He was peeved that a group of people sold their conscience by masquerading like Bishops bypassing Christian Association of Nigeria members just for their pecuniary interest to march for a minister who is supposed to have resigned.

Rufai said initially the Minister who denied the allegation later owned up and said he was young whereas he was in his 30s when he made the inflammatory statements, saying the Minister has no moral justification to remain in the office.