Why I will never Criticise Buhari’s government – Reuben Abati

Ex-Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati, has said that he will never criticize President Muhammadu Buhari no matter the number of policy mistakes the federal government makes under his leadership.

Abati, who said this in Lagos during a chat with the media, maintained that President Buhari had good intentions for Nigeria and sincerely wants to leave good legacies behind him.
He, however, said that running the federal government of Nigeria was filled with difficulties that were amplified by the rising expectations of the people.

He said that critics should understand that all the rising expectations of the people may not be immediately met and some may not be met at all.

“But, since government is a continuum, progress will be made from one administration to another.

“I’m not going to sit here and criticize President Buhari’s government, because if you go into the arena, you will see it is difficult.

“I can say categorically that it is not easy to run a country, and even more difficult to run a government in Nigeria.

“Every President has good intentions that is one of the things I discovered working with politicians. Politicians want to do well. They want to be liked. They enjoy public attention and they like to win elections.

“So no president will get to the top in Nigeria or anywhere and his intention will be to offend the people or to be remembered negatively. Once they become president, the first thing they begin to think about is legacy. How will they be remembered? That is the highest office in the land there is nothing after that. So when they get there they would want to leave a legacy that they would be remembered for. I have seen that either by interacting with a seating president or a past president.

“And you see our democracy is evolving – you keep learning things. I think one of the early articles I wrote after I left office talks about the lessons we have been learning. Since 1999.and we will continue to learn these lessons in different direction.

“One of the issues with democracy in Nigeria is the issue of rising expectations. People have very high expectations. A government comes in after a while people will start criticizing the government. People immediately react to what they see. It is called optics in government.

“But at the end of the day, all of those expectations may not be immediately met. All of those expectations may not be met. But from one government to the other, we have been seeing that there is progress since 1999. That is something to be cheerful about”, he stated.

Reuben Abati U-turn, Says He Doesn’t Have a Kobo to Refund to EFCC

Detained former presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he does not have any money to refund to the government, sources within the agency said.

The sources told newsmen that Mr. Abati told interrogators that he had no immediate means of sourcing the amount for which he is being detained.

The EFCC accuses Mr. Abati of receiving N50 million from the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

The money was part of $2.1 billion allocated for purchase of arms for the fight against Boko Haram, the EFCC says.

Mr. Dasuki is currently standing trial for allegedly misusing the money.
The latest development came days after Mr. Abati reportedly promised to refund N5 million.

The former presidential spokesperson has been in EFCC detention since turning himself in last week Monday.

Apart from being unable to refund the money, Mr. Abati also allegedly told investigators that he could not provide documentary evidence showing how he spent the N50 million.

Mr. Abati reportedly said he disbursed the money as cash and material gifts to journalists during the 2015 campaign.

Asked to name names of media practitioners who benefited from the largess, Mr. Abati said he did not keep such records.

“We thought he would be able to pay N5 million yesterday, but it turned out that he doesn’t have any money,” a source told PREMIUM TIMES Monday.

Our source also clarified that Mr. Abati had met his bail conditions since Friday, but the EFCC had refused to release him.
The EFCC had on October 26 granted Mr. Abati an administrative bail, and required as one of the conditions for his release, a surety of the level of director in the federal civil service.

Those conditions were met on Friday, our source said, but the EFCC failed to release him because of the stalemate over the N50 million.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, did not respond to requests for comment.



Father Kukah visits FFK, Obanikoro & Abati in EFCC cells.

Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Father Matthew Hassan Kukah has commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the state of its facilities in Abuja, which he described as ‘clean and orderly”.

He made the remark Monday during an unscheduled visit to the Commission’s detention facility and clinic, where he felicitated with some of the inmates which included former ministers, Femi Fani-Kayode, Musiliu Obanikoro and a former Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati.

The revered priest, who was conducted round the facilities by the acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, expressed delight that the detainees appeared in high spirits despite the discomfort of temporary restriction. He urged them not to be downcast and to see their current travail as divine.

Kukah who prayed for the inmates before his departure, summed up his visit thus: “I discussed with some detained suspects like Femi Fani-Kayode, Musiliu Obanikoro and Reuben Abati; and I am quite pleased they are looking cheerful.

“I was also happy with the humility of the acting Chairman who took me round and the way he interacted with the detainees. This is what is important for our country so that nobody takes these kinds of things personal. I am happy I came.

“We are all staff of EFCC to the extent that we want a better country and we are doing what needs to be done. We’ll continue praying that God guides you, keeps you safe and ensure that we build a country that we all will be proud of.

“This country has suffered so much, but we hope and pray that we can bring the suffering and trauma to an end as we collectively fight corruption,” Kukah said.

Also speaking, Magu assured the inmates that their incarceration was not personal, stressing that “This is all about Nigeria and making it better. And I think there is a consensus around this,” he said.

Abati Still In EFCC Custody, Unable To Meet Bail Conditions.

Five days after he was arrested, a former presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, is still in custody because he is unable to satisfy his bail conditions, PREMIUM TIMES understands.

Mr. Abati, a columnist, was arrested on Monday by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on allegations of financial impropriety to the tune of N50 million.

When operatives questioned him about how he spent the funds, Mr. Abati reportedly said he disbursed it to media practitioners in his capacity as the spokesman for the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

But he said he did not keep records of the disbursement when queried for evidence.

The journalist was subsequently granted an administrative bail that requires presenting a senior federal civil servant —preferably a director— with landed properties in Abuja.

“He will be released when he meets his bail conditions,” a source within the EFCC informed PREMIUM TIMES Friday.

Also in EFCC custody is Bala Mohammed, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who was taken into custody shortly after Mr. Abati’s arrest on Monday.

But Mr. Mohammed’s case is said to be more complicated, and he may not be released anytime soon.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the EFCC has procured a remand order from a court to hold Mr. Mohammed for a while.

He faces allegations of land racketeering which EFCC said came in several petitions from citizens who dealt with Mr. Mohammed while he was a minister.

Mr. Mohammed was said to have sold government land to private individuals and received pay for the transaction in cash. PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify those allegations claims.


Evil spirits exist everywhere, not only in Aso Villa–Presidential Chaplain.

The Chaplain of Aso Villa Chapel, Seyi Malomo, has explained his stance on recent media reports alleging Aso Villa was infested with evil spirits and demons.

Rather than take the report as truth, Mr. Malomo said on Sunday, Nigerians should dedicate themselves to praying for God’s righteousness to take over the land.

“I am not saying there are no evil spirits. I am also not saying there are,” he said.

“I don’t know what people believe. For me, I believe it is only righteousness that exalts a nation.

“Evil spirit is everywhere. Even the street you live, don’t you have witches and wizards there?” he added.

Mr. Malomo said his advice was for citizens to pray for Nigeria and its leaders, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, his family and all those working in the presidential villa, for God to cleanse the Nigerian seat of government of all alleged demonic influences.

The Chaplain was speaking in Abuja in a exclusive chat with PREMIUM TIMES shortly after delivering a sermon as guest preacher during the African International College (AIC), Abuja thanksgiving/welcome service for its 2016/2017 freshers.

Despite allegations the presidential villa was full of evil spirits, Mr. Malomo said there was nothing above prayers to seek God’s intervention to restore righteousness in Nigeria.

“All we need to do as Nigerians is to pray that wherever evil exists, God should make His righteousness to take over.

“As Nigerians, our responsibility is to continue to pray for the president and his cabinet, and every part of the country, particularly the Villa, for righteousness to take over,” Mr. Malomo said.

The claims of evil spirit at the presidential villa heightened when a former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said in an article in the Guardian that he was “totally convinced Aso Rock Abuja is full of evil spirits.”

Mr. Abati recalled several incidents of fire outbreaks at the Aso Villa during his stay there.

“Around the Villa while I was there, someone always died or their relations died. I can confirm every principal officer suffered one tragedy or the other. It was as if you needed to sacrifice something to remain on duty inside that environment,” he said.

“Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes … and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too.

“The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients.”

A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, agreed with Mr. Abati, saying “a lot of very strange things happened there” when he worked at the villa as spokesperson to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He listed some of the strange things he noted happened as the death of Mr. Obasanjo’s assistants, Tunji Oseni and Remi Oyo, who he said contracted terrible terminal illnesses whilst in office and died few years after leaving office.

Mr. Fani-Kayode also said several other aides who worked in the Villa at the time were also afflicted with strange diseases and a sudden and tragic end. He mentioned such people as Mr. Obasanjo’s ex-aide de camp, Solomon Amu, and former Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications, Stanley Macebuh.

Mr. Fani-Kayode had made a similar allegation about the aviation industry. He said that during his time as minister there was a “blood sucking cult” in the ministry that believed shedding human blood brought power and wealth.

“There is definitely a spiritual aspect to this (plane crashes). In my view, there has always been a blood cult operating in the ministry of aviation. There are some people that are very strange,” he said.

Reuben Abati: The True Meaning of Recession

There have been interesting arguments over Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun’s observation that “recession is just a word,” and NAN MD, Bayo Onanuga claiming that reports of hardship in the land is exaggerated propaganda.
I think we need to break down the subject further from a layman’s perspective. Recession is a word, no doubt, but it is more than a word, it is an experience: the experience that the majority of Nigerians is going through. If you are at a significant remove from that experience, it may be difficult to know how it feels, and if you are an economist, you are likely to be conveniently obsessed with textbook ideas.Recession is when Nigerians begin to shift the traditional dates for social parties. You know we love parties a lot. Virtually every weekend, there is one party or the other, very loud celebrations where people wear the famous aso ebi, and the Naira becomes a flying object, being thrown all over the place, at the musician, the celebrant, and her friends and family, with so much joy floating in the air, and plates of jolloff rice, eaten half way and left to waste, area boys having their own share of the fun, and Nigerians showing the world that life is indeed for the living.

Sometimes, these parties make no sense: imagine a man throwing a big party to “turn the back” of his great grandfather who died 50 years ago (!) – a great grandfather he never knew, or a lavish party to celebrate the purchase of a second-hand car. Those things are very rare these days. And when some parties are held, the date on the invitation card is during the week: can you imagine being invited to a wedding on a Monday? I have seen that happen. The event was over and done with before 5 p.m. Smart way to save money in a season of recession. There were guests of course, but not the kind of crowd you’d get at a typical Nigerian party on a Friday or Saturday. The celebrants actually confessed they didn’t have the means to feed too many people. That is what recession has done. Nobody boasts anymore about “declaring surplus” – a once-upon-a-time very famous phrase in this country!

When I was much younger, my friends and I used to gate-crash parties. Bored, with not much to do, we would dress up and go from one party to the other. It was called “mo gbo mo ya” – I heard and I came. In those days, all you needed was to go to a party to which you had not been invited, and without knowing anybody, you took a seat and before long, someone would come along and ask if you had eaten. In a matter of minutes, whatever you wanted would be placed before you. Drinks? Some friends used to boast about “finishing” a carton of beer, and they would have their fill and quietly sneak away. Try that these days and you would know that recession is more than a word. Virtually every party is now strictly by invitation. Even when it is not boldly stated on the invitation card, you’d get to know the truth when you attempt to gate-crash.Parties are now organised with such strict protocols, it is like trying to access Aso Villa. You would be screened, your bag will be checked, and don’t think it is Boko Haram attack they are afraid of, they just want to be sure you are not gate-crashing, and if you don’t have an invitation card, you would of course be turned back. There are some exceptions of course, where the protocol is a matter of security: particularly at those parties where there would be many VIPs. Nigerian VIPs don’t like to mix with just anybody.

Even if you manage to gatecrash, nobody will attend to you. What operates at parties these days, is a KYG (Know-Your-Guest) system. After sitting down, someone has to identify you as his or her guest. You don’t get served food, unless your host or hostess gives specific instructions. And you can’t drink a carton of beer anymore at your host’s expense! I certainly can’t remember when last I saw anyone getting drunk at other people’s expense at a party. Even close friends of celebrants, the ones who are a bit comfortable, go to parties these days with their own small cooler of drinks. The celebrant will offer you one or two bottles. If you want more than that, the ushers could become hostile or they could tell you pointedly: “drinks have finished.” I have had on one occasion to give the ushers, money to go and get me the drink of my choice. But once upon a time in this country, drinks don’t stop flowing at parties. The host will be so ashamed he or she would order more drinks and apologize to no end.

Where I come from, local women used to go to parties with cellophane bags, hidden away somewhere, and when they are served food, they would pull out the cellophane bag and pour food into it, all of that is done under the table. Next thing: they will start harassing the ushers: “we have not eaten here oh. Nobody has given us drinks: drinks they have moved to their collection cellophane bags! But party organisers have also learnt to be vigilant: they serve table to table; map out the space carefully and monitor the tables. Before 2019, perhaps a time will come when ushers will take your photograph, or there will be CCTV monitors at social events, just so you don’t come back and say you have not been served. That is change. That is recession. If you are a man-about-town, you can’t fail to notice this: that something has indeed changed in the social circuit. But there is that one per cent crowd, whose pockets are still so deep, if you get invited to their parties, it is like going to a surplus declaration event, what Nigerians call “too much money.” Even that is changing though, people are learning to be careful, so they don’t get invited to come and explain how they came about so much money.Recession is when you now read in the newspapers virtually every week about people committing suicide. Nigerians are so fun-loving we were once described as the happiest people on earth. Right now, we will fail the test. Suicide used to be so rare in this country. It was considered impossible. Why would anyone want to kill himself? I used to hear people say: “eba is sweet oh, I can’t come and die” or “life is for the living” or “e go better.” People are not so sure anymore. In the past month, there have been reports about two foreigners doing business in Nigeria who have also committed suicide. Every reported suicide in recent times, has been tied, one way or the other, to the recession in the country. One man had an argument with his wife over school fees and housekeeping money and he went and ended it all. Another man actually left a note saying he had to kill himself because there is too much hardship in the country. Marriages are collapsing. Domestic violence is on the rise.
Husbands that are out of work can no longer maintain their families, they can’t pay school fees, they have become useless in their own homes, they are helpless. Their wives want to leave, even when they are not too sure of the next destination. There are at least two celebrated cases of women who have either slain their husbands or wounded them badly. In both cases, there was that notorious thing about a second woman in the background. Sharing what is not enough for one person with another woman, in a season of recession, could be a crime, but the biggest dysfunction is that of the pocket. One woman, a lawyer oh (!) stabbed her husband in the neck. Another after having sex with her husband, and putting him to sleep, got a machete and butchered him. The man is presently in what Yorubas call, “boya o ma ku, boya o maa ye” condition. Whether he would live or die is uncertain.Recession is when companies are retrenching everyday or closing shop and SMEs are dying. In the last one year, high unemployment figures have been announced. Banks have had to shed weight; the foreign exchange crisis has forced many companies to downsize or abandon Nigeria, investors are taking their funds out of the country, many states of the Federation are so much in distress, they have stopped paying salaries.
Civil servants cannot even afford a bag of rice, because their minimum wage is N18, 000 and a bag of rice is N22, 000 or higher in some places. Recession is when Nigerians now steal pots of soup and basic food items, and they can’t buy rams for Sallah, and they are told “don’t worry, change begins with you!” Every worker who has lost his or her job in the last one year is not the only one affected, the knock-on effect has brought anguish to other dependants, who now have a bread-winner behaving like a bread seeker. That is recession. That is hardship.Recession is when enjoyment spots that used to be filled up every Friday evening are now empty. Nigerians used to celebrate what they call “Thank God it is Friday.” In Lagos, Friday evenings used to be the boys’ night. Husbands didn’t go home early. These days, husbands go home early and Fridays have become slightly boring. Recession is when prostitutes reduce their charges. I have it on good authority, from those who know, that even prostitutes have had to embrace change. And old girlfriends now demand pension benefits. Recession is when families which used to run the generator 24 hours and boast that their children can’t stand heat, have had to adjust, and run the generator only from 12 midnight, or before.
Recession is when men come out and complain that their wives no longer allow them to touch them: “Are you mad? With the way things are, all you think of is sex?” Kama Sutra rites are best enjoyed only in happy lands. Recession is when in spite of all this, the breweries in Nigeria are posting unbelievable record profits and smiling to the banks. The men go home and privately drown their sorrow in bottles. Mrs. Adeosun, this is the true meaning of recession.

Reuben Abati: The Man Who Named His Dog Buhari

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog – George Graham Vest (1870) 

Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, the man who named his dog after President Muhammadu Buhari is right now probably regretting his decision to honour his dog with the name of a man he considers his hero. He has been accused of trying to incite hate and breach the public peace. He has been arrested and re-arrested by the police and taken to a magistrate court, which promptly remanded him in prison until he is able to meet the conditions of his bail.
He has spent days in prison custody unable to raise the N50, 000 that he has been asked to pay. His family members have only so far managed to raise N20, 000. Even if he succeeds in putting that sum together, his life is still in danger because aggrieved persons in his neighbourhood, including a man who says he was trying to ridicule his father, have threatened to kill him, if he shows up. The police are not investigating this threat, but they seem so excited about dealing with the poor trader called Joe, for having the effrontery to name his dog, Buhari.

To protect himself, Joseph has allegedly put the dog to sleep, or thrown it away or whatever, in the hope that once the evidence is destroyed there will be no case against him. It is all so pitiable. Public opinion appears to be divided as to the nature and seriousness of Joseph Chinakwe’s alleged felony, with some people arguing that it is definitely an act of provocation and incitement for him to label his dog, Buhari so boldly and to parade the same dog in a neighbourhood where there are many residents of Northern extraction, whose feelings may be injured or who may perceive that he is trying to make a political statement.

Those who want him punished have therefore dismissed Chinakwe’s protestation that he is an admirer of the President, or that he means well. His defenders insist that he is entitled to free speech and there is nowhere in the statutes where a man can be punished on the basis of the perception that some people’s feelings may be injured, and hence, be prompted to commit murder. The law is not structured that way.

We are dealing, therefore with ethnic hate at the lunatic fringe. Nigerians have become so suspicious of one another, and inter-ethnic relationship is so poisonous that even the littlest innocent gesture could result in mayhem. This is why many have been killed for allegedly committing blasphemy or for insulting the religious sensibilities of some people. Remember the woman who was killed by her students for allegedly desecrating the Quoran. Remember Gideon Akaluka. Remember the woman who was recently beheaded in Abuja for daring to preach the Christian gospel. We are also dealing with disregard for human freedom, and Nigeria’s slip into a tragic season of intolerance. Why shouldn’t Chinakwe call his dog whatever name catches his fancy? Well, may be he should have chosen an Igbo name? But if we want national unity, why shouldn’t he take a name he admires from another part of the country?

Ali Baba, the ace comedian, like many others, has come out strongly in defence of Chinakwe saying he actually has a dog in his house named OBJ, and that is quite direct because only one man bears that sobriquet in this country, and neither OBJ nor his kinsmen have asked Atuyota to leave Yorubaland. One of the most famous pictures online is that of a goat named Goodluck Jonathan, with the name written on both flanks of it. President Jonathan’s wife was also once (July 2013) referred to as “shepopotamus” by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and before our very eyes, President Olusegun Obasanjo, donated, to a conservation sanctuary, a chimpanzee, which he named Patience to make a point obviously.

The parody at the time was unmistakable. We all drew humour from all of that. What we seem to be dealing with right now, however, is the absurd deification of a name on ethnic and partisan grounds. It is curious that the Nigeria Police is devoting to the trial of Chinakwe, a feverish amount of energy that we have not witnessed with regard to more statutorily relevant offences. This hullaballoo over the giving of a dog a name that has led to its hanging and the likely punishment of its owner is one distraction too many. We are above all else, dealing with a storm in a tea cup, occasioned by a culture shock, and our underdeveloped understanding of the relationship between man and animals.

Chinakwe says he chose the name Buhari out of admiration. And he may well be right, and he would have been right, and there would have been no problem if he was living in Europe or North America. But he lives in a country where animals have no rights and no recognition other than as victims of human predators, and a dog in our culture is to be treated as an instrument or as meat for the soup pot. Elsewhere, a dog has earned its reputation in mythology and actuality, as a man’s best friend. The root of this is that a dog is considered the most beloved, the most loyal and the most dependable of all animals. People use dogs to guard their homes, to keep away intruders, even to play with children and as companions in the home. There are many stories and legends about the loyalty of dogs. Hawkeye is the name of a famous dog who lay next to the casket of its owner who died in active service as a US Navy SEAL.

There is a film, “Hachi, a dog’s tale,” starring Richard Gere, about Hachiko, a dog who greeted his owner at the train station everyday and after the owner died, the dog went to the same station for nine years. Recently, I posted on instagram the picture of a dog in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Negao the dog, whose owner died eight months earlier and the dog remained outside the hospital awaiting his owner’s return. In the United States, a police dog has been given a state burial, draped with national colours in appreciation of its loyal and meritorious service to the nation. Many centuries ago, Homer wrote in Odyssey, about a loyal dog, Argos who waited for Odysseus until he returned.

The established normal is that a dog can be trusted more than a human being. And this is why in other parts of the world, when people name their dogs after celebrities, they are actually paying compliments and showing respect. World figures like Elvis Presley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Vuitton, Mandela, Clinton, J. F. Kennedy and others have had their names given to either cats or dogs, and it is no big deal. Admirers transpose their feelings from man to animal. Joseph Chinakwe may actually be saying that President Buhari is a loyal, trustworthy, supportive, dependable and companionable Guardian of the Nigerian estate. It would have been a different thing perhaps if he had given that name to a tortoise, a rat, cat, a fox, or a chimpanzee. But in a country where every animal is considered a prey or a lower, spiteful creature, using the metaphor of a dog could be risky as the Chinakwe case has shown. In Nigeria, we treat animals badly, and we don’t consider anyone a friend, man or animal. We are vengeful, mean and suspicious. We are so scared we are even afraid of domestic and domesticated animals.

In other societies, animals are treated with greater respect and in the United States for example, the life of a dog is far superior to that of a human being in Nigeria. I have written about this twice: In “A Dog’s Life” (1996), I reflected on the life of a dog owned by Stanley Meisler (God bless his soul) and his wife, Elizabeth Fox, my hosts during my journalism programme at the University of Maryland, College Park, United States (1996 -97). I was shocked that the dog had a room of its own, a proper room, not a kernel, and whenever that dog fell ill, we took him to a dog hospital and Stanley bought drugs. I saw that dog living the life of a king, better catered for than many Africans.

I wrote another piece titled “A Hotel for Dogs” (July 23, 2006) about a five-star hotel in Bethesda, Washington, which attends to dogs as customers, and where dogs enjoy a life of luxury. Established in 2003, by PetSmart Inc., by 2006, there were 32 hotels of its type in the United States and the then spokesman of the group, Bruce Richardson, had boasted that by 2010, the plan was to have 240 such hotels across the United States. We are talking luxury, 23 USD per night, 33USD for a dog suite, as at that time, all pre-tax, plus provisions for pooch ice cream. In general, Americans spend about $40 billion dollars a year on household pets. I guess that is more than Nigeria’s annual budget even by today’s relative standards.

And so, what are we talking about? An American dog is a big man in Nigeria by all standards. But because we eat dogs and treat all animals badly in this country, in fact we have no regard for human beings (consider the hundreds that get killed, raped, kidnapped daily and nobody cares), we are bound to be incensed that anyone would name a dog after a deified political figure. Joe Chinakwe’s sins should be forgiven, albeit there is no morality in law, but the Nigerian judiciary should not expose itself to further ridicule by lending the weight of the law to such partisan trash that makes no sense. There are far more important issues requiring serious attention in this country today.

But in case nobody understands that and Mr Chinakwe and his counsel find themselves in a tight corner, they should put out a disclaimer and say their dog, living or dead, is filing for a change of name. That is perfectly within their rights to do. And should they find themselves in any other difficult situation, they have my full permission to rename the dog, Reuben Abati. But should you, dear reader consider this a bad name you wish to hang, you also have my full support, partnership and friendship to offer your own name.

If that will put an end to this circus over the name of a dog, and set Joseph Chinakwe free, and also remind us that we are in a democracy, please, help and so be it. By the way, I hear Chinakwe and his sympathisers finally managed, after a fund-raising appeal, to raise a sum of N90, 000 to perfect his bail bond and that he is now out of detention. Would somebody in a responsible position just put an end to this joke and let us focus on serious issues?

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Femi Adeshina : Now That The Phones Are Ringing……. By Sunday Osanyintuyi

As a trained journalist, I don’t take lightly issues around my first constituency, media. I handle media issues and industry related matters with great passion. It is so because our positions and thoughts have immense impacts on nation building. Among the first news items and opinions read yesterday was an article by a senior colleague, Dr Reuben Abati, (Media & Publicity) assistant to the immediate past president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, PhD.

Hear oga Reuben “As spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan, my phones rang endlessly and became more than personal navigators within the social space. They defined my entire life; dusk to dawn, all year-round. The phones buzzed non-stop, my email was permanently active; my twitter account received tons of messages per second.  The worst moments were those days when there was a Boko Haram attack virtually every Sunday.  The intrusion into my private life was total as my wife complained about her sleep being disrupted by phones that never seemed to stop ringing. Besides, whenever I was not checking or responding to the phones, I was busy online trying to find out if the APC had said something contrarian or some other fellow was up to any mischief”

Reading through the above, I was asking myself what Egbon, Abati expected as a media manager to the most vilified Nigerian president ever. No doubt, Dr Abati’s rich media experience, critical views and opinions must have informed the choice of his boss, Jonathan. Surely, Dr Abati was and still a competent media combatant. Clearly, Dr Abati lamentations of his phones nonstop as a media manager shocked me. In this age and times, when every citizen has become a “journalist”? To which extent are professional values upheld in the practice of this new “journalism“? That is another issue for later discussion. Other lamentations will be handled some other day. But the focus of that office now rests on another senior colleague, Femi Adesina.

To Femi, another dogged media warrior, he needs to sentinel himself not only with the necessary tools to deliver, but take due lessons from Dr Reuben Abati’s seeming lamentations and failures. Abati, though very competent, but in his own words didn’t prepare or really know the demands of his office when he said “Top of the task list was the management of phone calls related to the principal. In my first week on the job, for example, one of my phones ran out of battery and I had taken the liberty to charge it. While it was still in the off mode, the “Control Room”: the all-powerful communications centre at the State House tried to reach me. They had only just that phone number, so I couldn’t be reached. When eventually they did, the fellow at the other end was livid. “SA Media, where are you? We have been trying to reach you. Mr President wants to speak with you” “Sorry, I was charging my phone.  The phone was off.” “Sir, you can’t switch off your phone now.  Mr President must be able to reach you at any time. You must always be available.”  I was like: “really? Which kin job be dis?” The Control Room eventually collected all my phone numbers. If I did not pick up a call on time, they called my wife”

I think this is a key lesson for Femi Adesina, more importantly now that his phones will be ringing endlessly. He must set up viable machineries in place to respond PROFESSIONALLY to issues as against what he did sometimes ago which has made some refer to him as an “Apostle and creator of wailing wailers”. Sadly enough, that lexicon has now found its way into our industry. Let truth be told, 21st century media managers must learn how to respond to those “wailing wailers” without losing professional ethics and ethos.

In my view, Femi Adesina, unlike Dr Reuben Abati should admit for the period he will be on this seat, has no private life. His statements will be credited as the views of the presidency he serves. Unlike Dr Reuben Abati, Femi Adesina needs to master the techs of social media. His expertise on social media usage is still far below average. As a media manager serving Nigeria presidency, you cannot ignore young Nigerians who are more active than ever. Also, you need the old horses of the conventional media. Balancing the two is very germane.

He should know, like Olumide Iyanda, publisher of an online newspaper, Qed.ng, opines in his recent write up on “For whom the phones have stopped ringing” the phone will continue ringing as long as you cover a “juicy beat” or are in a position to influence what goes into any publication people reckon with. The phone will continue to ring as long as every journalist wants to have scoop or exclusive with the presidency. Oga Femi Adesina should know the change promised by his boss; Muhammadu Buhari will be demanded by Nigerians where and when it seems not showing. The phones will keep ringing until Boko Haram insurgency, Corruptions, weak institutions and abuse of power continue in Nigeria. Watching Femi Adesina on Channels TV Sunday 26th July night responding to issues raised by Seun Okinbaloye confirms his competency again. He was clear, lucid and details on president Buhari’s trip to America just as he was in his write up on same subject today. But he needs to do more providing online consumers with real time reportage, pictures and updates. If he fails, unverified online news media may feed the gullible with half truth.

But any journalist who has passed through the newsroom will have tales of people who became social orphans as soon as they were no longer in a position to write, kill or push a story of interest. We as professionals must accept to live with this sad reality that people only relate with or count you as useful when your presence or position benefits them.

While I agreed sometimes you can be defensive in your approach as a media manager, but such is not to be always. You can make your opposition sing your positive songs if you do the right things. Personal attacking or naming calling as professionals should be avoided. Positions and issues should be stated professionally, clearly with objectivity.

Till then, Oga Femi Adesina welcome to the “phones ringing arena”. And to Dr Reuben Abati, I join Olumide Iyanda to welcome you to “planet Earth”… whatever that means.

sundayosanyintuyi@gmail.com | @SundayOs

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Reuben Abati Enrols At Oxford University Business School

Former spokesman to immediate past president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati is currently participating in the Advanced Management and Leadership Programme of the Oxford University’s Said Business School. Abati started the course three days ago, the 7th of June, 2015 and it will last for 3 weeks. While confirming the news, Abati said;

” I’ve been participating in the Advanced Management and Leadership Programme of the Oxford University’s Said Business School since the 7th of June. I had a great time discussing Nigerian Politics with my boss and former President Jonathan in London over the weekend. Thanks for your encouraging messages and concern. God bless you and Nigeria.”

Jonathan Has Not Stopped Working- Abati

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, has dismissed claims that President Goodluck Jonathan has stopped discharging his presidential duties since losing the presidential election. Abati was reacting to some reports that claimed that the present administration which hands over power to the incoming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari had abandoned some of its ongoing projects.

He said evidence that Jonathan was still working abound at the site of the second Niger Bridge which is currently under construction, the ongoing work on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as well as the Abuja-Kaduna Railways. He said the President maintained that he remained committed to service and sacrifices for Nigeria in whatever capacity he finds himself.

Read More: Punch

I would have Rejected MEND’s Endorsement- Jonathan

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, noted that for a faction of MEND that had attacked venues where the President was presiding over events at least two times, the attack on the person of the President did not come as a surprise.

President Jonathan therefore advised General Mohammadu Buhari not to “place any stock on his purported endorsement by the renegade faction of MEND which is led by a convicted and unrepentant terrorist with whom no leader who truly means well for Nigeria should be associated”.

The statement reads:

“We have noted with amusement, the vituperations against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the renegade faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) headed by the convicted terrorist, Henry Okah in a statement issued to endorse the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

“While we thank all people of the Niger Delta, including the former militants whom MEND claims to represent who have already disassociated themselves from the statement issued by the faceless Jomo Gbomo and reaffirmed their unflinching support for President Jonathan’s re-election, we will like to state that the latest assault on the President by Henry Okah and his stooges did not come as a surprise to us at all.

“It was very much to be expected, coming as it did from an individual and group who have never hidden their vengeful personal animosity against the President and who have even gone to the extent of launching murderous assaults on venues at which the President was present on two occasions.

“It is most regrettable indeed that rather than show remorse for the terrorist acts against his fatherland for which he is now rightly serving a term of imprisonment in South Africa, Henry Okah continues to pursue a pointless personal vendetta against President Jonathan who continues to advance and protect the interests of the people of the Niger Delta which Okah and his group threatened with their misguided actions.

“The vituperations against President Jonathan in the MEND statement endorsing General Buhari are mischievous, baseless and deliberately styled to denigrate the good works of the President.

“It is well known that President Jonathan played a significant role in ending the militancy and insurgency in the Niger Delta.

“Under his watch, the destruction of oil facilities and the incessant kidnapping and killing of expatriates in the Niger Delta waterways have become a thing of the past.

“The attempt by Jomo Gbomo’s MEND to rewrite history by tarnishing the person of President Jonathan for selfish, pecuniary and political gains will amount to an exercise in futility.

“All patriotic and right-thinking Nigerians must consider an endorsement from a convicted criminal and his group who harbor evil intentions against the unity and progress of their country as a poisoned chalice.

“President Jonathan would never have accepted such an endorsement from terrorists and renegades.

“The President therefore advises General Buhari not to place any stock on his purported endorsement by the renegade faction of MEND which is led by a convicted and unrepentant terrorist with whom no leader who truly means well for Nigeria should be associated”