BEfore you crucify Dr Pantami, by Oluwakemi Ola

For some days now, there have been cocktails of media blitzkrieg on the altercations between the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami

The NiDCOM boss, Dabiri-Erewa, is alleging the minister ordered the forceful eviction of NiDCOM from the building of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and seizure of the office property of the agency.

Anyone who has followed the development can easily discern that Dabiri-Erewa who ignited the verbal war was first to take the bickering to traditional and social media platforms.

And the Nigerian media are making a feast out of it so elaborately.

I consider the open exchange of words unnecessary and nauseating. But it has already happened.

However, it does not deter us from X-raying the truth, even for records sake.

It is unavoidable that in human interactions there are bound to be intermittent disagreements on issues.

But I also believe that every conflict should be amicably resolved on the strength of its merits, devoid of sentiments.

I have only heard, but personally never met Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. Her record in public service includes her stint at NTA, a House of Reps member representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Lagos, and later Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and now NiDCOM boss.

It is a certification of her years of public service at the national level and one expects her to be properly grounded in administrative protocols and be truly a pride of the womenfolk.

Unfortunately, the media altercations she triggered exposed her foibles as someone least prepared for the challenges of public leadership.

I fault several things in Dabiri-Erewa’s actions and utterances against the minister.

First, she nicely abandoned the issue pricking her or failed to restrict herself to the problem of forceful eviction of NiDCOM at the NCC building, Abuja.

She delved into personalised and bias sentiments of gender, by tagging the minister a misogynist.

She said, “You did this to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary….”

I don’t think such mouthing is in the realm of decency or in anyway explained her misery better in the circumstance.

Though, Dabiri-Erewa’s paternity is rooted in the South West, records in public domain I sourced on Wikipedia intimated that she was born in Plateau State, in Jos, a bubbling city precisely.

It means, she spent part of her formative years in the North and must be versed in the culture of northerners.

These are people who venerate women.

This much I know, but it is not an indication of the absolute absence of masculine-induced aberrations against women in the region.

By hanging the repulsive tag of a misogynist on the minister unjustifiably because you have reason to suspect him over an action defeats logic.

Therefore, to say about Pantami that, “Your disrespect for women is legendary…” is incontrovertibly in bad taste.

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Pantami has been in public service for years now, and headed organisations, also peopled by women, as his subordinates.

Even as minister, there are women under his official supervision. None of them has complained of Pantami’s rudeness to them on account of gender or extended “disrespect” (the way Dabiri-Erewa has put it) to anyone of them.

At least, we have not read about it anywhere in public domain.

Therefore, to run such stigmatising conclusions on the minister because Dabiri-Erewa is a woman and would be easily believed and supported does not add up.

I think, the minister deserves an apology from Dabiri-Erewa.

And inherently wrong is odiously imputing religion into a simple, official matter by saying, “An Islamic scholar does not lie Honourable Minister…” referring to Pantami; Hon. Dabiri-Erewa tweeted in one of her reactions.

To what extent can she vouch for the information at his disposal which allegedly fingered the minister in the dilemma of NiDCOM at the NCC complex?

The NCC has a boss.

He is Prof. Garba Umar Danbatta, who is the Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Office of the commission.

Why should Dabiri-Erewa believe that the reversal of the good gesture by NCC to NiDCOM is a directive which was necessarily issued by the minister?

There is no scintilla of evidence.

In Nigeria, we have the tendency to ignore procedures.

Why is Dabiri-Erewa not telling us due process was followed by NCC in allocating a section of its office to NiDCOM?

If a single person decides unilaterally to extend this favour to NiDCOM and the NCC management deliberated, faulted the procedure and decided to reverse the decision, why blame it on the minister singularly?

In my considered view, it is hatred on a person taken too far.

I understood the conjectures better, when the management of NCC countered her claims as false.

Citing, tweeting and circulating the video, where the Secretary of NCC was pacifying staff of NiDCOM after they were locked out of the NCC building is a scratchy evidence.

It does not indicate the complicity of the minister in the impasse and very infantile reasoning.

So also my perception tells me, dragging Pantami’s religion into the matter is completely senseless and beyond the threshold of the matter at hand.

I confirmed in her revelation that the incident happened since last February, but Dabiri-Erewa only found it necessary to explode her emotions publicly at the end of May, three months later.

And we can see that she took time to prepare before coming for the battle.

She declared putting the incident behind her since, but still found it pertinent to publicly ridicule and impugn the reputation of the minister.

Her outbursts overtly contradict her actions and advertises her out as a hypocrite.

What exposes the wailing Dabiri-Erewa and obviated any shred of innocence and public sympathy she might have is her generous deployment of foul diction against a constituted authority and official public security agents of government.

She derogatively referred to the Nigerian police on duty who reportedly locked staff of NiDCOM out of their office at NCC building as “armed gunmen”.

In a sense that instantly connoted some armed hoodlums or miscreants contracted to chase her and the staff of NiDCOM out of the office.

The most ideal action would have been for Dabiri-Erewa to patiently wait for official response and actions on the matter.

But staging out for a sensational and sentimental media confrontation with Pantami is most absurd.

Most irrational because outside the blunders she has made; it portrays her as someone barren of the temperament to function in an organised system or lead people.

It is painful to look at this issue in another dimension like I have done in violation of feminine solidarity.

But let truth be told.

Dabiri-Erewa embarked on a misplaced adventure.

I could sense in her actions an attempt to give Pantami a bad name.

The idea of personalising an official matter and hurling darts at another government official like herself under the shield of feminism to attract support is a serious misstep.

I wish she could learn from this incident, reflect and make the necessary adjustments.

But before I sign out, let me leave Dabiri-Erewa with the words of advice from another vibrant feminist evangelist, Sheila Jeffreys, who said; “Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female beings, refusing to privilege one over the other, least, we over-push or abuse feminism and destroy with it, everything it represents.

Oluwakemi Ola is a freelance journalist and wrote from London.