OrderPaperToday – Lawmaker representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kaam federal constituency in Plateau State, Mr. Yusuf Gagdi, has exonerated the National Assembly of any wrong doing in the clearance of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr. Isa Pantami, during his ministerial screening.
The representative said Nigerians were to blame as much as the Department of State Security (DSS) and the National Assembly for the confirmation of the minister since nobody petitioned on his past antecedence.
Mr. Gagdi made the assertions on Wednesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Press Corps during a programme called “the hot seat.”
This was after the minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, had called for the resignation of the minister in plenary.
The outspoken lawmaker vehemently refuted any act of negligence or failure on the part of parliament over its failure to uncover the controversial past of minister linking him with terrorist groups, boko haram and al-queda.
He said: “I would not say that DSS (Directorate of Secret Service) and the National Assembly acted in in error. The NASS and DSS are not God. You will never get every information about every individual during confirmation. You don’t have the capacity to know everything about me.
“So it is what the DSS know that that they recommended. And it is equally what the NASS saw that they recommended. And if you want to hold DSS and NASS responsible, what of you as an individual?
“Over 180 million Nigerians, you were unable to (find out). The announcement was made, the man was presented to the floor of the senate. He was screened and no individual out of over 180 million Nigerians was able to remember that comment made to write a petition to the NASS for them to act or not to act.
“So if NASS should be held responsible or the DSS, the people of this country should equally be held responsible, because they were unable to do their job by bringing the information to the NASS. Until and unless you bring the petition that this man has done wrong in the past. It is not in the capacity of both DSS and NASS to know everything about everybody.
“If there was an issue prior to the screening and the NASS did not act on that information, then you will hold them responsible. But because there was nothing, you assume the man is innocent.
“Now the issue has come to public glare. Is it the responsibility of the NASS to act based on the information that is given about the Minister? It is not the responsibility of the parliament to say remove the Minister or not to remove the Minister. The prerogative of appointment and removal is vested solely on Mr. President. So it is left for the executive arm of government.”
He added: “I learnt also that the man has apologized. If it is true that the information is there and the man apologized, it is not within my own power as a parliamentarian to say go or not go. The president has the red biro or green biro to tell him stop, stay there, this is the end of your time as far as my cabinet is concerned. He equally has the prerogative of mercy to say since you have shown remorse, everybody could make mistake in the past, continue but make sure you do not do that again. I think these are the things i can say about issue of the Minister.”
Mr Gagdi, who is the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Navy, in his response to a question on the security implication of Pantami staying on as minister, urged Nigerians to see beyond his past deeds and assess him by his performance, adding that there could be political undertone to Mr. Pantami current ordeal and therefore warned those calling for his sack not to throw away the baby with the bath water.
According to him: “What is more important is what value is he adding to the Nigerian economy? What value is Pantami adding to curtailing the issue of insecurity in Nigeria? Every politician has his own enemy and every politician has his own past. I could remember when Isa Pantami made comments about Boko Haram. The people sent in videos insulting him and trying to declare him wanted. How can you juxtapose that with his present position. The man that made a statement in past against or supporting some certain security situation… if that statement is true then he did not do well at all.
“Then after his appointment as a minister, he has confronted the Boko Haram about SIM card registration in such a way that the man was declared one of their major targets. I think his job has put him in a very critical position that he is neither here nor there, because if they see him, they will not leave him. So it has great consequences, to be fair, in terms of the security of this country for a Minister of Digital Economy to have made statement in the past that seems to undermine the present security commitment.
“It has a great security consequences on the security perception of this country; that I can tell you without mincing words. But again juxtapose that equally with his commitment as a Minister. What are his efforts? Has he made any compromising commitment towards those people or he has made a commitment that those people equally see him as an enemy. That would help you to equally strike a balance in the course of that. But I have to tell you, it has consequences. His statement has great implication on the security situation of this country.”