The Federal Government is said to be making efforts to resolve the dispute between the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, and the Chairman and CEO of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa over the alleged use of gunmen by Pantami to throw out NIDCOM staff from the office facility of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
A source within the NIDCOM told BusinessDay in Abuja on Monday that the matter is being handled at the highest level of government, even as he expressed hope that the issues would be sorted out after the public holidays. He said the new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari has shown interest in resolving the matter.
The NIDCOM boss, Dabiri-Erewa had taken to Twitter on Sunday to accuse Pantami of using violence against her and her staff allegedly because she is a woman.
Dabiri-Erewa, according to sources in the NIDCOM had taken her feud with the Minister to the public after she was said to have exhausted all options for an amicable resolution.
On May 23, 2020, the former member of the House of Representatives recounted how she and members of her staff were locked and thrown out of their office space by Pantami.
“In one year, we don’t have an office. The office we got, given to us by NCC (Nigeria Communications Commission)…but we were actually driven away by the Honourable Minister of communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami.
“Within two days, they drove us out with guns and what happened? The place was given to us by NCC….
“You know we all help each other, NCC as an agency of government said there is a place you can use to settle in, and just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought that it was a joke.
“I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday, this happened on Tuesday. By Friday, when I went to the office, guns, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke. But here is the thing, I’m a government employee, so is he. It’s government business,” Dabiri-Erewa tweeted.
In his reaction, Pantami also took to Twitter where he called Dabiri-Erewa a liar.
“This is a fat lie from her. The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directives (sic) to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, and I have no one,” he retorted.
But not done yet, Abike responded by calling the minister a misogynist. She tweeted: “An Islamic scholar should not lie, Hon Minister ( Phd). You did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since February. But please release all our office equipment. Public office is transient.”
After severe criticism against Dabiri-Erewa on social media on Twitter on Sunday for calling out a fellow appointee of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in public, she explained that she had exhausted available options to resolve the matter and that was why she took to the social media to express her frustration.
However, the source within the NIDCOM, told BusinessDay that “The new Chief of Staff to the President (CoS), Ibrahim Gambari called yesterday night to find out what happened and then pleaded while assuring that the Federal Government will look into the matter.”
He also noted that Abike was right in making the issue public, saying, “Sometimes, you have to shout to get things done in government. Dabiri-Erewa knew what she was doing when she went public. And now she’s got the government’s attention at the highest level,”.
He said further: “The solution is simple. We need all our equipment trapped in the NCC office even though they are claiming that we have not occupied the place but our things have been there since. We have had press conferences there we are only renovating the offices of the chairman. Four departments have already moved into that place,” he said.