The Nigerian government appears to be accusing Information and communications technology (ICT) companies of inciting hate campaigns against the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.
In a statement declaring full support for Dr. Pantami, which was issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, the government said there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies.
The statement said the reason behind the attempt is because, many of these ICT companies stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections, which Dr. Pantami is vigorously pursuing.
“The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” the statement noted.
While disclosing that the government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected, the government stated that in putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies, especially those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means.
Highlighting some of the achievements of Pantami that is pitching him against the ICT companies, the government said the Buhari’s administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.
“The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected.
“In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession,” the statement stated.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami is currently involved in series of terrorism allegations, with some Nigerians calling for his resignation or sack by the federal government.