Just in: Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Minister in war of words

Abike Dabiri-Erewa

The allegation by Mrs Abike Dabiri- Erewa, the Director General of Nigeria In Diaspora Commission that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami sent some gunmen to eject her staff from part of the office of the National Communications Commission, NCC, they were occupying while she was away degenerated into war of words between the two appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday.

The Minister had described the claim by the the DG of Diaspora Commission a ‘fat lie,’ while reacting to the video in which the accusation was made posted on Twitter by Saharareporters.

The Minister also said the Nigerian Communications Commission which owns the building “has faulted her (Dabiri’s) lies on their social media platforms.

“The minister has never given that directives to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there,” Pantami said.

But in her reply, the DG of Diaspora Commission also accused the Minister of lying about the episode which she said she has already put behind her.

Mrs Dabiri- Erewa claimed that she was so treated by the Minister because of her gender, accusing Pantami of having built a reputation of ‘legendary disrespect for women,’ despite being an islamic scholar and a Ph.D holder.

“An Islamic scholar should not lie Hon Minister .( Phd😂😂)You did that to me cos I am a woman .

“Your disrespect for women is legendary Left the ugly incident behind me since Feb. But pls release all our office equipment. Public office is transient,” she said.

Meanwhile the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC has released a confusing statement in which the Commission seemed to be hedging very hard not to be caught in the crossfire between its supervising Minister and the DG of NDC.

A statement by  Dr. Henry Nkemadu, Director, Public Affairs which contains NCC’s reaction reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been drawn to a video making the rounds on social media alleging that the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NDC) was thrown out of the NCC building.

“It is, therefore, important that the general public is acquiesced (sic)  with what really transpired with regard to the incident leading to the evacuation of the Diaspora Commission from the NCC building.

“Following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the Commission in the NCC Head Office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the Commission directed the decongestion of the Head Office Building.

“Some of the departments of the NCC had started moving to the new Office Complex of Five (5) Floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to enable the Diaspora Commission also to utilise any free offices within the Complex.

“The fifth floor allocated to NDC had to be used to accommodate other departments from the NCC Headquarters to ease the congestion. NCC’s offer to house the NDC was predicated on the long-held position of the NCC that agencies of government will achieve more through strategic collaboration, partnership, synergy and sharing to the extent allowed by relevant laws.

“During this period, the NCC secured approval for the commissioning of the Office Complex by the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari and the launching of four important projects of the NCC and the renamed Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMC&DE):

“The projects include the launching and unveiling of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025; the commissioning of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex; the launching of the Emergency Communications Centre and Toll-Free number 112; and flag-off of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training.

“These important projects were a culmination of extensive collaboration between NCC and the other parastatals of the FMC&DE and fittingly, the Complex was renamed the COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY COMPLEX in tandem with the new drive of the Federal Government towards a digital economy.

“The NCC has not withdrawn the offer but had hiccups arising from the preparation for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Communications and Digital Economy Complex and launch of other projects relating to the mandate of government.

“The Board and Management of the NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s digital agenda.

“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the NDC, the Director General, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the Complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the Commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.

“As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the Complex. Therefore, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communications and Digital Economy Complex.

“At this time, only NCC staff were accredited to have access within this premises, as required by the security officials. All the properties belonging to the Diaspora Commission are safely warehoused in some of the offices in the Complex.

“This is contrary to the position of the Director General of NDC that the removal of her Commission from the building was punitive. This is not the correct position and we agree with her that there are always challenges in every human activity but the unforeseen challenges that arose in this case are not different but require understanding of all concerned.”