A Pot Calling Kettle Black: Dr. Reuben Abati and the Unfortunate Loss of Ideology by Odusote Oluwakayode
I’m not really surprised that my backslided beloved astute columnist has derailed, what is surprising to me is the loss of a revered ideology. My own Dr. Reuben Abati has lost it all to selfish political glee.
I know it’s not easy being a presidential spokesman. Dr. Abati has had to deal with all kinds of intrigues and interests. He is not free because he must speak the president’s mind whoever’s ox is gored. He unfortunately sacrificed his hard-earned reputation to defend most times the indefensible. A gallant columnist and erstwhile chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian Newspapers.
The prolific writer tainted his blistering integrity the day he accepted to serve as Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Jonathan. That day of the decision was the moment he imprisoned his pen of truth. He surrendered himself to the dangerous political wheel and machinations of the ever-thorny politics of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
When Dr. Abati once insulted young Nigerians for using the social media as an avenue to becoming overnight critics, I felt being a critic is a profession and the access to the social media is supposed to be for the exclusive use of the elites. My eventual short response on my facebook wall read “may the soul of Dr. Reuben Abati rest in peace”. Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish him dead. He is an asset to this nation and I hope he’ll realize his mistakes and re-dedicate his quality to the course of the masses.
What I prayed to rest in peace was the soul of sincerity, dexterity, courage and wisdom that died the day he took up an appointment with the Goodluck Jonathan led administration.
Don’t also get me wrong here about his appointment. He has a right to serve his fatherland. I hope to be of service too when asked to, my grouse is that he took up appointment with a government that had been tainted. Our political parties do not have a manifesto. At his level, he should know why he is supporting a government. Do they have a clear cut agenda for the governed and will such agenda meet the expectation of a crippled nation? As the spokesman for the president, these are things he must be able to defend without deceiving the governed.
His recent message to invincible and nameless critics of the Jonathan administration calls for concern. He called them “yesterday’s men”!
The simple interpretation to the article by Dr. Abati is as Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo explained; “The tragedy of Dr. Reuben Abati is that he never leveled up with his readers. He allowed his readers to be lost in what T.S. Eliot called the shadow that falls between the desire and the spasm/ between the potency and the existence/ between the essence and the descent/. Now that his fortune has changed, he is trapped in Alexander Pope’s admonition that, the higher you climb, the more your ass is showing.
It was not Reuben Abati’s fault that President Goodluck Jonathan cannot communicate effectively with an elementary school pupil. It is however Reuben Abati’s fault that an elementary school pupil cannot understand what the government of Jonathan is trying to do. The reason is not that Reuben Abati is trying and failing. The real reason is that he is so engrossed in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ that he is not trying at all. In Nigerian panache, Abati is too busy chopping- legally, for the first time. And as a veteran journalist recently put it, “You don’t talk while you chop.”
I guess the reason for his article is because the “yesterday’s men” have constituted alleged nuisance to his pay master’s free will to “chop”. They have been involved; they understand how things run in the corrupt system of government and so they are possibly exposing too much.
At least the “loosely bound group of yesterday’s men and women who seems to be on the offensive against the Jonathan administration” have had their opportunities to “chop”, so they should keep quiet even if Nigeria is failing to allow today’s men of the GEJ administration “chop” their own?
Dr. Abati did not face the reality of the issues some of these “yesterday’s men” pick up on regarding the government of today. At his level, I expect professional responses to germane issues of National concern than engaging in useless pen responses all in a quest to possibly keep his job with the “fresh air” government.
The accused have been privileged to be in power and they suffered the criticism of the governed. They were subjected and held accountable for their roles in government. At the time most of the accused were in charge of various capacities, Dr. Abati was just as they are today. He took on the government and kept them on their toes. Has he being a hypocrite all along?
I totally agree with Dr. Abati that the sincere critics are few just like the few comrades who fought for our democracy. He was right in his assertion that some of them “don’t care about Nigeria as a sovereign but the political spoils that accrue from it”. Most of the accused few have become overnight critics and rights activist. Some of them even joined us to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy and the NLC/TUC leadership allegedly suspended the strike action because of fears that the few accused are likely to take advantage of the period to cause national disorderliness.
What I do not agree with is the statement that “President Jonathan has unfairly become the target of their pitiable frustrations”.
Criticism is not a profession and no individual is immune to it. Irrespective of the critics, all that must be sincerely observed are the issues being raised. Let the messages be addressed genuinely and the messengers spared of irrelevant attacks.
Genuine answers must be given to the issues raised regarding the affairs of a nation that belongs to all Nigerians. Requesting the government to be accountable is not unconstitutional neither is it an act of felony.
The Yoruba proverb relevant on GEJ’s lapses says “Tí ògiri ò bá lanu, alá?gbá ò lè ráyè w? / If there aren’t crevices in the wall, the lizard can’t penetrate into it. If there are no evidences of corruption (both financial and practice), no sane Nigerian would make baseless criticism.
The Boko Haram is festering in the North because the government did not address what gave birth to the sect. The Niger Delta and the Southeast have had kidnapping. Yet there are huge budgetary allocations to security.
Roads are death traps; power in spite of the boasts of the Jonathan administration is still epileptic in supply. These are evident failures that Nigerians complain about and which are supposed to be addressed.
There are accusations that the Jonathan administration romance corrupt persons? We all know that the yesterday’s men prosecuted some high profile public officials – whether selective or not. We can’t forget in a hurry the travails of Bode George, Tafa Balogun, Late S.M Afolabi andDiepreye Alamieyeseigha. How many of such corrupt persons have been brought to book since inception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration?
There are serious accusations that President Jonathan deliberately politicized with grave insult on the constitution the Justice Isa Ayo Salami case.
There are accusations that the report of the Nuhu Ribadu led subsidy probe committee is not going to be implemented.
Could the accused be wrong on issues relating to removal of subsidy and the scandals that it generated? The oil subsidy debate raged through the year 2012. We experienced strikes, committees to probe were constituted and then reports submitted. In the end the money collected in the name of subsidy was never accounted for in terms of revamping the infrastructure, education and health sectors.
I thought Dr. Abati would be honorable enough to resign his appointment considering the fact that he vehemently criticized the Obasanjo led government on removal of fuel subsidy. What is honorable in defending the current administration on the same policy?
Is it true that N4billion is budgeted as a mission house for the first lady? Come to think of it, what is the meaning of the office of the first lady? We all know that the office is not constitutional. Where is the money coming from?
These and many more of evident alleged corrupt cases are some of the claims of the accused!
Looking at Dr. Abati’s ass, it is easy to talk about his hypocrisy just like he pointed out to the accused. He possibly climbed to limelight through his criticism of “yesterday’s men” and government.
He possibly used the media machine to his own advantage as a social critic. He used to write objectively and put governments on their toes. Perhaps all those years he had a subtle calculation that has been realized. I understand the power of the media and how politicians use it at will. Can one conclude Dr. Abati used the media platform to gain relevance towards becoming what he is today? I now understand from his accusations that he is in government by calculated design and not by the need to serve. Therefore, in what ways is he different from the accused?
The mistake Dr. Abati and some of his colleagues – Today’s men make is that they perceive every criticism of the present administration as direct attack on the personality of Mr. President. The “yesterday’s men” have not been the only ones to have come under attack. Fellow Nigerians who feel concerned about this country have also come under serious insult from Dr. Abati. If Egyptians find protest as a tool to mount pressure on government, we in Nigeria take seriously the opportunities given by the social media to express our feelings about the failings of our government.
The negativity of the Nigerian decay is evident and Nigerians are not gullible to be brainwashed by the accused. It is believed that constructive criticism should be a tonic for improvement. The capacity occupied by Dr. Abati should not be abused by taking matters of national importance personal. I tried to deduce what he meant in his assertion that “What they do not seem to realize or accept is that the political climate has changed”. Changed into what?
Dr. Abati should be bold to mention names of the accused while the government of the day should be transparent to prosecute any former government official found culpable of corrupt practices in the course of their public assignment. I’m not amused by his accusations stating that one of them was in charge of this and another in charge of that. My advice is that a sincere self assessment be done by Dr. Abati in the capacity he occupies today in comparison to what he was before joining the administration of Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.
What I wish to read from Dr. Abati are the evident positive works of the president. If the president can’t connect with us, Abati should be able to fill that gap literary. He does not need to be a dirty talker like Doyin Okupe before he is seen to be a performer. He is expected to leave politics to politician while he concentrates on his professional assignment.
The present challenge as a government man should be a lesson. Criticism should not be based on sentiment because no one knows when the “passenger” will eventually become a “driver”. I guess Dr. Abati is now a driver and he sees differently from when he was a passenger as a columnist cum social critic.
I am sure that this is not the Reuben Abati I used to draw wisdom from. It’s really sad to say there was a Reuben Abati.
I am @Actionkay on twitter
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