Isa Ali Pantami
Isa Ali Pantami

Pantami: I preach Islam, not my personal opinions

NEWS DIGEST – The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami has said that none of his Islamic preachings were anchored on his personal opinions but a verdict from the teachings of Islam.

Recall that a report by Daily Independent had claimed that the United States had placed the minister on their terror watchlist over alleged ties with Boko Haram founder, Late Mohammed Yusuf.

The report triggered social media campaign against the minister, with some calling for his resignation.

The newspaper later withdrew the report, saying that the information in the story was not true.

But the minister, while speaking on Friday during an interview with the Premium Times newspaper, denied the report, saying that he had never been denied any visa to travel to any country.

He said: “I have travelled widely, globally. There is no single country that has denied me visa. In Europe, I travelled to many countries.

“In these few years. I was in Spain, not more than once; I was France, more than once; I was in Germany, more than once; I was in Hungary, at least once; I was in the United Kingdom, many times.

“In Asia, I travelled to countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and many more. In Africa, I travelled to many countries.

“In America, I travelled to the U.S. From 2016 to date, I travelled to America more than 10 times.”

According to him, the newspaper’s report might have been anchored based on his Islamic lectures and teachings over the years.

He, however, said that none of these lectures and preaching he conducted were coming from his personal opinion.

He said: “The position of religion is not, in any way, your personal opinion. When I sit down here to read the Koran, if you say what I mention in the Koran is my opinion, you are not fair to me. It is the verdict of religion.

“If a Christian sits down in the church to preach reading the Bible, don’t say what he says is his opinion, he is reading the Holy Bible. Why? Because people gathered there are to listen to what he is saying.”

Continuing, he said: “When you are making a presentation from the Islamic perspective, it is not your personal opinion.

“Sometimes, while preaching at times, when I mention something in the Koran, I will smile and people will ask me what happened, and I will say, ‘because the verse hits me, because I do not comply with the teaching of the verse as a human being.’”

Speaking further, the minister said most of his preachings his detractors were sighting were understood out of contest, adding these audio clips in reference were academic lectures that are best understood when played in its totality.

“…all that they have been spreading is probably because they do not understand the context in which the lectures were presented. Usually, all the lectures they mentioned were presented around 1998, 1999, 2000.

“The most recent could be around 2006, which is also 15 years ago. Most of them were firstly, academic lectures from Islamic perspective, and we were presenting the lectures in order to calm our youth that were being recruited to join extremism.

“So, in the course of doing that, I came up with an approach. That approach was to be presenting lectures about international movements, explain the concept to them, and show them that our situation is not even the same with their own.

“If some people in Afghanistan with Taliban were fighting because they were booted out of their country, who booted you out of Nigeria – whether you a Muslim, a Christian or you don’t have a religion?

“Each and everyone is going to live in his country, nobody is sending you away in your country. You need to understand the context in which the presentations were made.”

“I presented over 150 lectures mobilising youths to stay away from extremism. Some will just go and edit and just compile five minutes, six minutes out of 150 lectures, each one, the minimum is one hour, and maximum is one hour, thirty minutes.

“If you compile all, you will discover that it is over 200 hour lectures. Where is the remaining? If you want to do anything, write everything from A to Z and, secondly, understand the context. Religious context is not personal opinion; it is a religious context,” he added.