That is why it is important clerics spare their adherents their political views.
I donâ€™t, with all respect, agree with
the position of the Federal Government in retaining Sheikh Isa Pantami
as a cabinet minister. No person, Muslim or Christian, would express
Pantamiâ€™s extremist views in the way and manner he variously did, and at
the same time hold a ministerial office, and be left alone except if
itâ€™s in a theocratic state and that those views represent governmentâ€™s
Granted, he didnâ€™t express those
views while in government, but the mere fact that he ever held those
extremist views automatically disqualifies him from holding public
offices in a non-theocratic state. There is a danger to any society if
people of extreme religious or ideological views hold onto political
power for the simple reason that people seek public offices to implement
their ideas for society. Therefore, thereâ€™s always a danger for a
religious preacher who has strong views on his faith to delve into the
murky waters of politics. The explanation that he has changed his view
with the passage of time and maturity is at best an afterthought. In
fact, it is a very awkward and embarrassing situation for him
personally, and even for the government he serves.
Is he saying that the views were false
and were adolescently expressed inadvertently at probably the age of 39
years, and that he never meant them? Are we to take it that all those
views he expressed in his preaching in that age were also inadvertent
and that we should discard them? After all, are those strong views he
expressed not anchored on the scriptures and therefore the eternal words
of the Creator?
If that is so, then does he have the
right to change or repudiate them and still claim to his faith? Should
we therefore, going forward, not be suspicious of the views expressed by
all Islamic Sheikhs henceforth because the allure of public office will
make them recant their views anchored on Sunna in the face of the new
theology of democracy or allure of public office? As it is, I believe
Pantami has lost both ways â€“ not even his adherents would take him
seriously henceforth â€“ and by retaining him in office, he remains a
heavy political liability to the government. Henceforth, it will be
difficult if not impossible to extricate the government of charges of
extremism, Islamisation, Fulanisation, etc. It will also not help the
cause of the current war against terrorism, insurgency and banditry â€“
all because of the allure of a ministerial seat and the desire to
protect that seat!
That is why it is important clerics
spare their adherents their political views. As Islamic clerics, theyâ€™re
well-advised to restrict themselves to the tafsir of the Holy Qurâ€™an
and Hadith and stop delving into politics, whether local, national or
For this and many other reasons
including protecting the sanctity of their religions, I advise that all
religious leaders be most circumspect in making public their political
views shrouded in religious attire during preaching.
A most decent act would have been
for Pantami to resign and restate his commitment to his faith if he
really is truthful to those views. If I (Dr. Umar Ardo) were Dr. Isa
Pantami, Iâ€™dâ€™ve owned up to my words and resign, or owned up and hold to
my office and allow the government to decide.
I would never have repudiated them for
anything on earth. But for Pantami repudiating those views claiming that
they were made in error on account of adolescence (at 39 years?) and
the government, in retaining him in office, to employ deceptive and weak
arguments in his favour is not only dangerous but also a big political
mistake on the part of the government.
It is incumbent on the President to
relieve him of his appointment for his (Pantamiâ€™s) own sake, for the
sake of the President and his government, for the sake of the country
and the religion all of us profess.
Dr Umar Ardo, Yola, Adamawa State