HOW ONE MAN TURNS THE FATE OF A THOUSAND AND ONE YOUTHS TO GREATNESS: THE PANTAMI PHENOMENA
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) has played a huge role in fighting extremism and terrorism in Nigeria. For those accustomed with the university environment in Northern Nigeria, especially since the emergence of the El-Zakzaky movement in ABU Zaria, in 1989, it is a known fact that radicalization of youths has been a growing challenge in our universities. Many innocent youths become victims of these radicalizations, rendering the future of many of them unusable, to themselves and to the larger society. The university community is one that offers graduate certificates and postgraduate trainings. It is a community that covers a wide range of both intellectual and social activities. Being an environment that houses agile, effervescent, and responsive youths of different socio-cultural background, it is not entirely surprising that they are targets of many radicalization agenda. For instance, when Professor Wole Soyinka started his Pyrates Confraternity in 1952, he founded the Fraternity in the university environment, and it has hitherto continued to flourish more in the university environment more than any other community. No wonder, when some of the activities of the group became violent, the authorities in many universities have declared them an illegal organization and banned from operating within the universities.
The term ‘youth’ has been used and often abused, either by meaning or by use. This is because there is no consensus as to who a youth is, since the concept refers to a psychological state that is difficult in using age to demarcate. However, conventionally, the youth is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood. At this age, a youth is possessed by idealism and the need for change. A youth is an optimistic and energetic person, who is aware of himself partly, and cannot relent in his efforts to exist despite all odds. If well used and utilized, he is an instrument of progress of progress and development. If, however not well utilized, they are easily swayed and led astray by those that they believe are their models.
It is in the midst of this slipup that, yet another radical ideology was birthed by the slain Bokoharam leader, Muhammad Yusuf. The ideology exploited the youthful exuberance of thousands of youths, majorly from universities and institutions of higher learning. It presented the weakness of the leadership at different levels which led to visible injustices in the society as well prevalence of social vices and poverty. These and many other frail points of governance in the society were amplified by the radicalizers and alas, they received an alarming acceptance from far and near. There was great concern from parent. University leaders were fidgeting and trembling, as to what is happening or about to happen. In the camp of the religious scholars, strategies begin to surface as the radicalization is becoming more intense.
Just then, the Pantami phenomena was unbridled, and thousands of youths were saved. How did he do it? How was one man abled to face a huge challenge that was already sweeping through houses like a wildfire, and bringing it to almost an instant halt within the university he was, the state and even other states? For those that know the personality of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, it is not surprising that he was able to throw a stick into the running wheel and change the discerning minds of these thousands of youth that were hitherto bent towards the radical ideologies.
To begin with, Pantami’s vast understanding of the Glorious Qurán and the Traditions of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace of Allah be upon him) has placed him in a good position to face any confusion that disguises as religion. He is one person who has developed a very cordial and genial relationship with almost every student in the university, Muslims and non-Muslims. In fact, at a time, many students would prefer to pick his course over any other lecturer’s in Information Technology, not only because he is friendly and genial, but because he justly assess students thereby producing marginal failures in examination. These and many other traits of the revered scholar has given him an edge over other Islamic scholars that also were preaching against the radical movement of Muhammed Yusuf. Thus, Dr. Pantami was able to navigate through students, sits with them in circles of discussions, listen to them and clarify whatever confusion or radical ideology they are being fed with. His exemplary relationship with those that see him as a role model has equally made it easy for him to convey his message with ease. There are several instances where Dr Pantami has reached out to many students who left the University to persuade them to return and abandon radical groups and behaviours. He has also delivered several lectures on ‘’The Dangers of Extremism’’ and other topics that promoted peace and tolerance.
His daily teachings, from home to the mosques and across different states in Nigeria have helped greatly in shaping the future of a thousand and one youths that today are useful members of the society. He has defeated radical ideologies in concept and has continued to enlighten the youth about the dangers of extremism and has persistently preached against terrorism and fanaticism of all kinds. Many people have passed through the revered scholar and have benefitted immensely from his wisdom and knowledge. Till date, despite his numerous commitments as a Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Pantami has not severed ties with his roles as a bridge builder and a guide to millions of youths in Nigeria and beyond. How one man turns the fate of Many!
By Dr Abubakar Hidima (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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