Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Isa Pantami, has expressed regrets over controversial remarks he made in the past which supported activities of Al-Qaeda and Taliban Islamic terrorist sects.
The minister has been under strong criticism in the last one week after videos of his past sermons as an Islamic preacher resurfaced on social media.
Nigerians have been using the #PantamiResign #PantamiResignNow hashtag to call for his resignation or removal by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But the minister reportedly renounced his past “extremist views” while delivering a lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja on Saturday.
Pantami claimed that he made the controversial comments when he was “a teenager” and that the remarks were based on his religious understanding of issues at the time.
“For 15 years, I have moved round the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism. I have traveled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Kano states and Difa in Niger Republic to preach against terrorism,” Daily Trust quoted the minister to have said.
“I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies in different places. I have been writing pamphlets in Hausa, English and Arabic. I have managed to bring back several young persons who have derailed from the right path.
“Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity.
“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager. I started preaching when I was 13, many scholars and individuals did not understand some of international events and therefore took some positions based on their understanding, some have come to change their positions later,” he said.