The Academic Staff Union of Universities has described as illegal, the promotion of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, to professor at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
The union, on Monday, declared the promotion as illegal at a press conference addressed by the President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke.
He said, “You cannot be a minister and a lecturer in a university. It is an encouragement of illegality.
“Pantami has to quit as a minister and be tried for doing double jobs within the same federal system. He is not qualified. Pantami should not be treated as a professor.
“We have resolved to sanction ASUU members involved in his promotion and the VC of FUTO.”
ASUU in November rejected the report submitted by a committee in its Owerri, Imo State zone, on the appointment of Isa Ibrahim, popularly known as Pantami, as a professor of cybersecurity by FUTO management.
While addressing a conference at the time, the president of the lecturers’ union, Osodeke, said; “ASUU NEC members, like many other concerned Nigerians, did not accept the report of the ASUU FUTO congress. There are serious doubts and unanswered questions bordering on the qualification of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) for the position. The FUTO Branch Committee’s report failed to justify Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim’s (Pantami’s) appointment to professor on the basis of requisite experience, professional suitability and antecedents at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (ATBU).”
In September 2021, the Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, placed commercials in newspapers congratulating Pantami on his promotion to a Professor of Cybersecurity.
Pantami was among seven Readers (Associate Professors) promoted to Professor by the Governing Council of Federal Univerity of Technology Owerri (FUTO) at its 186th meeting held on August 20, 2021.
This triggered criticisms around Pantami’s appointment in some sections of the media.
The United States Associate Professor and social critic, Farooq Kperogi, at the time described the Professorship granted by the university to Pantami as “some self-humiliating intellectual duplicity perpetrated by Pantami himself.”
Nigerians have described Pantami as a closet extremist after the Islamist views he held in the past came to light in 2021.
The Muhammadu Buhari government, however, said it would stand by the minister.
Pantami expressed views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
In a sermon from the 2000s, he said he considered al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden, a better Muslim than himself. For instance, in a 2006 speech, he publicly offered his condolences after the death of al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In another, he said he was happy when infidels were massacred.