Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has alleged that some forces are against him because of his insistence on implementing the National Identification Number (NIN) policy.
He alleged further that those linking him with terrorism are those who don’t want the NIN policy to be implemented because of their criminal activities.
Recall that recently, Pantami has been linked with terrorism which he has blatantly denied and the allegations were withdrawn but again, there have been renewed calls for his sack by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the developments and the attacks against him, Pantami in an interview with Premium Times on Friday, noted that those attempting to malign his character and peddling false rumours against him are those who don’t want the NIN policy to succeed.
“I have no doubt about this. It has to do with the National Identification Number. Do you know one thing? This policy was started in 2011, it was not successful. Why? It was fought,” he said.
He however refused to reveal the identities of those sponsoring the allegations against him when he was asked to do so by the interviewer.
He maintained that he won’t be intimidated but will continue to discharge his responsibilities to the country in line with the constitution and as directed by the President.
The Minister noted that the Buhari administration is committed to tackling the insecurity in Nigeria and would not bow to the tactics of those against the government and are benefitting from the insecurity.
He responded: “You have to try and investigate as a journalist. In 2015, it came up, it was not successful. I 2018 there was a time that there were meetings between government and mobile network operators. And it was actually announced that by the agreement with government, the deadline was January 2018. It is there online, I will share it with you if you like. By January 2018, it was not implemented, because there are forces against it. There are forces!
Now they have started coming with the news that people are coming from neighbouring countries to register. What they fail to understand is that the National Identification Number is not only for Nigerians; anybody in Nigeria can obtain it. Section 16 and 17 of the Act mention the registrable people in the country – citizens, legal residents, legal permanent residents, and legal residents for a minimum of two years. So, it is not only for citizens. And it is also important to know that this is not just an indication that they are citizens of Nigeria. It is rather an indication that you presented your biometric data, so government has control over your data. And that data of NIMC (National Identity Management Commission), nobody has an access to it in any way he likes. Getting access to it illegally is 10 years in prison. It is there in the law. But people will like to discredit it, because they don’t like it.
“As long as it is implemented by government, it will go a long way in reducing crime and based on the statistics we have been seeing now, it’s really encouraging.
“As government, our priority is the protection of lives and property of our citizens. Security is our priority as a government – whether in agric, digital economy, education or in health, in whatever. President Muhammadu Buahari is so passionate about security, and he directed me to do that because he knows I try to persevere despite challenges and do what is right in the interest of our citizens and humanity.”
“You know as a government appointee, and at this level, if you say you are going to be intimidated by everything, then you cannot do the work. You cannot do the work. I was with the Minister of Foreign Affairs this week, on April 12. I was with the minister. I was with the ambassadors of the U.K., the U.S., South Korea, and many other countries.
Meanwhile, the former lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial district, Dino Melaye, on Friday lamented that Nigeria is currently sinking under President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
Melaye stated this while reacting to the decision of Twitter to establish its regional office in Ghana.
The former lawmaker in a post on his Facebook account said the President should be worried about Twitter’s decision and that of Germany which also picked Ghana as its West Africa Headquarters.