By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Emeka: This Pantami matter a kpatakpata matter; it is a monster of a monstrous proportions for the presidency and the future of the Republic!
Kalio: Emekus Mekus! That is big grammar o! Which one is ‘monster of monstrous proportions?
Emeka: I mean it is a gargantuan crisis that could derail the republic!
Kalio: Oh! You mean we are now in the stage of a ‘Descent into anarchy!
Tunde: It is a storm in a teacup jor!
Aboki: Is that what you say, storm in a teacup? Rome is burning and the Emperor is fiddling! Do you really mean that you don’t mind an extremist in the cabinet of our country fa?
Obukohwo: I think he means that there are many storms in the country right now. Pantami is just one!
Aboki: It doesn’t make the situation less sinister!
Obukohwo: Imo State is virtually imploding. In the 1960s, we witnessed the ‘Wild Wild West’, now fifty years later it is ‘Wild Wild East!
Aboki: Let us take these points one by one. A man who sits in Council with the president and who is Minister of the sensitive Ministry of Communications is accused of making extreme and incendiary statements in the past, the type that gave birth to Boko Haram which the nation is currently fighting, yet the government says his past should be forgotten? Has he openly denounced Al Qaeda or ISWA or Osama Bin Laden? No! He should not be left a day longer in the cabinet.
Kalio: The allegations against Pantami are heavy, very heavy!
Obukohwo: By the way, what kind of name is that? Pantami! No wonder he has funny views. Panta wetin? What do you expect from a man who has ‘pant’ in his name? May be a woman’s pant too!
Tunde: Hahahaha! Obus! You have moved from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Obukohwo: Just like Nigeria, just like Nigeria my dear!
Aboki: Everything has become jagajaga, even the way we analyze issues has become clouded by ethnic and religious biases!
Emeka: Let us stay on message please. Pantami! A little background to all of this will help. A local newspaper reported that Dr. Isa Pantami was on the US watch-list because he had links with terrorism. If you remember, the minister threatened to sue the newspaper. But when video and audio tapes surfaced on social media showing his deep romance and cohabitation with religious extremism that he started singing a new song!
Kalio: How could any sane man say ‘I still consider Osama Bin Laden a better Muslim than myself? Bin Laden who threatened world peace and killed innocent men, women and children! Statements which suggest that he was happy each time non-Muslims are killed! Our country has gone to the dogs!
Tunde: Let us be careful please. I don’t know that fellow from Adam. But if he has recanted his old views, why must we vilify him? Didn’t we as young men harbour and pursue some dangerous views which we discarded as we matured?
Aboki: That is different, very different! We are discussing dangerous ideologies which fanatics carry in their hearts and minds, disguised by religious fervour. Such views hardly go away. The Islam I believe in does not tolerate killing innocent people. But some fellows who have been indoctrinated by some hardliners in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen.
Tunde: In that case, let him come out openly and condemn Boko Haram, ISIS and the rest. If he is indeed a hardliner and a believer, he will not do that.
Kalio: But the government has given him a soft landing.
Kalio: Government’s spokesman declared that Pantami harboured such views in the past, mark you, only in the past. He is now born-again! Hahahahahaha!
Tunde: That is possible, very possible. If you could have repentant militants in the Niger Delta whom you managed to send to Europe and America on special training, why can’t we have repentant Muslim extremists?
Emeka: We are talking about a state official who once pronounced a fatwa and a Christian student lost his life. We are discussing a man who gloated over the death of innocent people killed by suicide bombs! How well do you think such an official will support the president in his fight against extremists? The man himself is dangerous to the president’s agenda. I hope he realizes that soon.
Aboki: I agree with you on that. See the dangerous nonsense going on in Imo State. What exactly is going on? Are Nigerian soldiers fighting IPOB or ESN or fifth columnists who want an end to Nigeria? There are unconfirmed reports that Boko Haram and bandits hoisted a flag in Kauri in Niger State during the week. The state governor cried out on television and said that Boko Haram has taken over territories from his jurisdiction. He also said Kauri is just two hours from Abuja and so, Abuja is not safe. What is going on?
Obukohwo: No need to ask those questions. We all know what is going on. The federal government is simply overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. There is a breakdown of law and order. Our national territories have been compromised. Abuja or the presidency has no clue on how to solve the problem. The country should be restructured now!
Emeka: Yes, restructuring is the ultimate. Indeed, we ought to have reduced the exclusive list well before now. But with the current shaky security situation, won’t restructuring give room for secession and different power centres that could turn Nigeria into another Libya?
Aboki: Aren’t there different power centres already?
Obukohwo: The Nigerian Army must protect the territorial integrity of the country. They are constitutionally bound to do so!
ALSO READ: Conversation Nigeriana (1)
Aboki: But the army is also compromised as retired General T.Y. Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff, former Minister of Defence once declared. He even called on Nigerians to defend themselves!
Emeka: You are going too far. The incumbent Minister of Defence has asked us to defend ourselves too.
Obukohwo: Are we going to defend ourselves with knives and sticks against AK47s?
Emeka: Ask me o!
Kalio: Does Abuja realize how dangerous the situation is?
Aboki: Put it bluntly, does the President realize how dangerous the situation in the country is? We have never had it so bad before. We read about this in other countries; now the monster is in our doorsteps, in fact, inside our bedrooms.
Emeka: This was brought about by the likes of Pantami. Mr. President must act decisively now and give the boot to all the dangerous and ineffective cabinet members. We are in a stage of war, declared or undeclared!
Kalio: Undeclared wars are even more dangerous!
Professor Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 and [email protected]