Between Abati And Nigerian Social Critics

 [ Masterweb Reports ] - Having critically read the recent Dr. Reuben Abati’s article which titled as the hypocrisy of yesterday’s men that was widely published and circulated in all the National newspapers and online publications, I discovered that Dr. Abati has professionally deviated from the fourth estate profession and now dine and wine with government antics. The Abati I used to know was so wild on government dormant policies which he used the platforms of ‘Patitosgang ‘a popular TV talk show owned by Prof. Pat Utomi and the Guardian newspaper where he served as Chairman Editorial Board. His recent article was so offensive and odious to the extent that he overtly described Nigerian social critics as jobless beings and nothing else. Undoubtedly, Dr. Abati is not the first media officer at the presidential villa that runs social critics down but his suddenly changed from constructive to destructive criticism is one of the factors that make social critics see Abati as a cow man trying to play to the gallery of his pay master.


Though some of the Nigerian social critics are mere noise makers trying to gain public domain without considering the rot which they caused while in government. Some of the social critics were part and parcel of the previous governments that introduced high profile corruption into the political system while trying to exclude themselves as saints. Dr. Reuben Abati to some large extent, as a veteran journalist who is economical to the truth because some failed political leaders have decided to see nothing good in Jonathan’s administration. The three core agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, electricity, electoral reforms and infrastructural development are yet to be resuscitated and reformed. The recent comment made by Dr. Oby Ezekwesile over $45 foreign reserve who served as a minister under the then President Olusegun Obasanjo which the present President is yet to explain to Nigerians how that money was spent that prompted Abati to see Nigerian social critics as liars. Some schools of thought assume that Dr. Oby still working with the present government even though he is not in Nigeria. In one of his article he titled as the Jonathan they don’t know where he said those that criticized government policies are badly informed of government activities in Aso Rock. Nobody ever envisaged that the almighty Abati would suddenly change over the crisp of naira notes and Aso Rock flamboyance. Many of his professional colleagues would continue to misconstrue him for not properly enlightened the public on government policies than replying offensive articles on avid social critics across Nigeria.


In the late 70s that I was born when I discovered that Nigeria were only having vast and unprejudiced and impartial social critics that never dance to the discordant tunes of government policies. Journalists were poorly paid but were reporting their conscience and willing to expose all forms of shenanigans of political leaders either in Military regimes or democratic process which wickedly led the parcel bomb blast of one the refined Journalists late Dele Giwa that saw his profession as the only way to nail corrupt leaders in the country.The likes of Tai Solarin, Zakka Bala, Sunny Ofehe, Igwilo Nachukwu, Engr Isaac Emiyede, Presidor Ghomorai, Comrade Joseph Evah, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof . Tam David West, Mark Igini,chief Gani Fawehinmi, Engr. Solomon Okpithe, Annikio Briggs, Beko Ransom Kuti, Raphael Okelezo, Emordi Emeka and others. These Nigerian social critics have able to earn names for themselves for their doggedness in fighting against government wicked policies. If not Pastor Tunde Bakare that led the delegation to Abuja over the sudden disappearance of late President Musa Yar’ Adua that made President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn-in as an acting President by the then 6th National Assembly. A country where there are no both destructive and constructive criticisms, automatically such a country is heading towards political anarchy and instability. As far Nigeria runs a democratic process, everybody is entitled to freedom of speech and Dr. Abati failed to identify some of the political norms that make the president of a country.


Again, since Goodluck Jonathan was sworn-in as a president, Nigerians are yet to experience any dividends of democracy except some few areas where the he publicly discharged his duty mainly on the decrepit of the police college and others. The same Dr. Abati told us vividly in his paid article that President Jonathan reads all National newspapers and watch television stations to see where his government fails to provide formidable structures in the country. Even in the Western countries, criticisms are homely welcomed in all ramifications but in Nigeria, the reverse is now the case, Dr. Reuben Abati used to cite Western countries on their system of leadership but abysmally failed to correct some of the policies of the government that are not correspond to the masses rather than defending his job.75 percent of social critics that government gave political appointments suddenly changed to the macabre dance of government falsified policies and projects that never existed. The fearless Abati failed to tell Jonathan the bitter truth and that over$160 naira is being spent by Nigerian students studying in Ghana Universities annually as result of rot in the Nigeria education sector which money is more than education budget for 2013. Eventually all the sectors of the economy are not working and 2015 is fast approaching while the same Jonathan wants to be re-elected without providing infrastructural developments to the people. Though Jonathan meant well for Nigerians due to some of the capital projects he embarked upon which only second term can make him complete his projects for the country. The likes of Femi Fani- Kayode, Dr, Joe Odumakin, Yinka Odumakin, Dr. Douglas Anele and Festus Keyamo are some of the young notable Nigerian social critics but some were given political portfolios and practically left all their pursuits for the truth justice of Nigerians.’ The Bible says money answereth all things and also the root of evil.


Finally, the three arms of government, legislature, executive and judiciary are being involved in high silhouette corruption in all levels, yet Abati is telling Nigerians to keep mute and watched the system being bastardized and defrauded by powers that be. Even some of the out gone political office holders that have thick file cases with Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC), that does not mean social critics would not voice out problems confronting Nigerian economy. Criticism helps to sharpen government policies but Dr. Abati got it wrong by also describing social critics as hungry rabbits looking for cheap publicity without misgivings. 2015 is not far while President Goodluck Jonathan campaign team has started strategizing on how to confine the seat of power and the security situation is in dilemma. The problem is that truth is not being told for fear of brusque sack from office by the President.Dr. Abati needs to apologize to Nigerian social critics for going too far in throwing invectives on them with no just cause. Everybody is free to criticize government policies that are not measurable to the yearnings of the people. Abati must not stain himself with power because nothing is permanent in the political system. Those that live in glass houses must not throw stones on the poor people.


Godday Odidi (08058124798), a Public Analyst reports from Lagos, Nigeria.


*Photo Caption -  Dr. Reuben Abati

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