Reuben Abati, Nigeria’s Greatest Sophisticated Liar!

By Adeola Aderounmu

Look at this man, his name is Reuben Abati. He is an example of the criminal and evil minds ruling Nigeria.

When people like this speak for the devil, you know that Nigeria is on a freefall to an irreversible disaster.

The mind will remain a terrible thing to waste!

To Reuben Abati: Go and Hug a Transformer!

By Adeola Aderounmu

When late Abacha held Nigeria in his palm, Reuben Abati stood out as Nigerian Government Critic Number one! There was no dispute about whose article would be most read on Friday or Sunday back in the days in the Nigerian Guardian.

I do not recall anyone in Abacha’s government or thereafter calling Abati names. Abati was not even arrested despite all his criticisms of the dictatorship and later civilian governments in Nigeria.

At the height of his fame as a government critic Abati asked Nigerians to stone those in power. Was he testing his fame? This was when the Federal Government increased the price of petroleum products-the old subsidy lies that Abati would come to champion in January 2012.

I was told by someone who knows the Guardian very well that Abati was actually collecting brown envelopes for many of those articles that he wrote those days in the Guardian. Everything has fallen into places now that Abati has shown his real image. It may be true that he wrote many articles for money afterall many Nigerian journalists today still have their own favourite politicians.

I am fond of writing that Nigerians have no heroes today and when the likes of Abati remain the mentor for Nigerian journalists, then hope is quenched!

Last week Reuben Abati who now works for the inglorious Nigerian government blasted internet warriors and the rest of you who are fond of abusing Jonathan on facebook and on your blog pages. I am an internet warrior, I have abused Jonathan on facebook and my blog since 2006 is full of abuses and criticisms for the worst and probably most corrupt government in the world with headquarters in Aso rock, Abuja.

So I take Reuben Abati’s message as a direct war. But this is a terrain I know too well. So he and his bootlickers can bring it all on. I will help them spell their last names. T-H-I-E-V-E-S IN P-O-W-E-R.

Some of us have been here-online- long before Jonathan. I wrote to the late Yar Adua government about the futility of taking on internet warriors. Anyone who cares can browse my articles at the Nigerian Village Square. We-the internet warriors-don’t lose and we don’t come last. If Mr. Abati needs a reminder, I will like him to know that long after the reign of his present master, internet warriors will be here in different forms and shades.

It is be an over flog to remind Abati about the nature of the government he serves. How do you begin to recount the stupidity of the government of the day in Nigeria?

A government whose moral compass was lost even before it started sailing. You can tell, unless you wear the garment of the Pharisees.

Farouk Lawan just returned from Mecca. Under the government that Abati is serving, corruption was magnified and redefined. Only men who have no shame will serve in corrupt and useless government. In Nigeria whatever happened to protecting your father’s name and your own integrity?
If Nigerians heed Abati’s call of just a few years ago, then they should be stoning people like him now. It was his call, maybe we should obey him.

I recall my meeting with two of Nigerian’s finest bloggers (names withheld) about 2 years ago in Stockholm. Of course we talked about Nigeria and the government. They laughed at me when I told them that I stopped reading Abati after the Abuja-land saga.

They laughed because they thought I was ignorant to have been one of the several thousands of Nigerians that Abati took for such a long ride. When Abati appeared in Jonathan’s government, it was not a surprise to them. Both of them stopped reading Abati many years ago. They said they saw the light a long time ago.

No doubts I have also written in the Nigerian Guardian a handful of times. No doubt my articles started appearing in the Nigerian Guardian days after I got Abati’s email from (names withheld).

But Reuben Abati should continue to serve his new master according to his conscience. If he likes let him continue to fire at internet warriors and the critics of Mr. Jonathan. It will show his real colours and the nature of his job.

I have been in the blog industry since 2006. I don’t have the intention of retiring now because Abati is serving corrupt people which confirms his own status as a corrupt man who used his articles to buy his way into the corridor where everyone (according to him) should be stoned!

Some of us will never serve in government. Our middle name is Ilesanmi.

Those who join government only to turn against their own constituencies will not find peace. It’s a natural law. Those who join government and cannot resist the temptation to also become corrupt will live with both personal burden and the burden of history.

I have not met a blogger or a government critic who is campaigning for absolute moral purification. Human nature does not tally that line. This is why we separate private from public life I guess. All we have asked for is that those in government must deliver on their promises and stop looting our common treasury.

All we have asked for is that the wealth of Nigeria should serve Nigerians. Just yesterday Bobola Babalola wrote on Facebook that democracy in Nigeria is government of some people, by some people, for some people.

Abati has now joined the few who are taking the rest of Nigeria/Nigerians for a ride. That doesn’t make it ok. That doesn’t mean that Jonathan, his family, friends, executives, senate and other corrupt people can loot and we have to stay quiet.

Abati in government is not a receipt with guarantee. Abati in government is not a form of immunity.

No matter who serves in Nigeria, no matter who is looting in Nigeria, no matter how foolish or wise the government becomes, social critics and public commentators will be here.

It doesn’t matter how we are addressed, we take on this social burden to tell things as they are.

In 2009 I warned about the flood that has now taken Adamawa (check before 70 000 people perish overnight in the NVS). NEMA almost asked for my head. Even the government as a unit was quiet because it is a useless government, constantly so since 1960. People are dying now after N26 billion was spent on invisible dam projects.

Anyway, the government of Jonathan, in my view, is the worst government ever in Nigeria. No matter how much Abati and his followers rant, the truth about the cluelessness of Jonathan, the waste that his government has come to represent and the calamity of the consequences of his inactions (especially) in Northern Nigeria cannot be taken away like a pinch of salt. A thousand Abati and a fake permanent secretary in Bayelsa (aka ghost worker in Rivers) cannot do that.

PIUS ADESANMI: My father is a motor car: Reuben Abati, GEJ, and the Addis Ababa fiasco

Written By Pius Adesanmi

My father is a motor car: Reuben Abati, GEJ, and the Addis Ababa fiasco

[I am reposting this article by Pius Adesanmi. This article reveals the stupidity and foolishness of the Jonathan presidency. It also brings to light the foolishness of Reuben Abati. Reuben Abati has lost it completely. This is a story of how money, position and fame have destroyed some Nigerian intellectuals. Abati is the new scandalous face of the Nigerian intellectual class]

President Jonathan and his handlers dreamed up the ill-fated ambition to gun for the Presidency of the AU because of their juvenile rivalry with a far better governed South Africa

Baba Sala needs no introduction unless you came around in the age of iPods, iTunes, and music files. The dinosaurs among us who are more at home with LP records will remember him. He is one of Nigeria’s greatest artists in my book. In one of his memorable radio skits, Baba Sala decides to learn the English language. A friend’s son offers to help with home lessons in basic English conversation. The scenario is classic: the teacher reads a simple sentence from a grammar primer and the student repeats the sentence. We all went through that “repeat after me” ritual in primary school. If you were in French class, your teacher, often from Togo or Benin, screamed “répétez après moi” as you struggled to memorize the antics of Aja Dudu and Monsieur Mayaki.

“My father has a motor car,” says Baba Sala’s teacher, reading from the primer. “My father is a motor car,” choruses Baba Sala. Naturally, the teacher is dissatisfied. He reads the correct sentence again, Baba Sala repeats the error, and a back and forth ensues between the determined teacher and the stubborn student. Frustrated, Baba Sala finally asks the teacher for a Yoruba translation of that problematic sentence. “Baba mi ni moto ayokele kan – my father has a motor car”, replies the teacher. “Excuse me, come again” thunders an incredulous Baba Sala. The perplexed teacher obliges him: “Baba mi ni moto ayokele kan”.

A furious Baba Sala summons the ritualized protocols of the familiar – what we call “see finish” in popular culture – to upbraid his teacher, giving him a long, sanctimonious lecture about lying, lies, and liars. Baba Sala knows the teacher’s family. E don see dem finish, as the popular saying goes. “Your father did what? Bought a motor car? Look at this small boy o! You really must think that I am dumb! Ibo ni Baba re ra moto ohun si? When and where did your father buy a motor car? Have you forgotten that your father and I used to trek to oko egan (the farm) together? Until he died, your father was never able to afford an ordinary bicycle let alone a car. How dare you look me straight in the face and lie to me? You dare to tell me that your father is a motor car. What’s the world coming to?”

The teacher stands his ground and tries to explain to Baba Sala that the sentence comes from the grammar primer they are using for the English lesson. This is where Baba Sala delivers one of the most memorable lines of his career. Says Baba Sala to the teacher: since I have absolutely no doubt that there is a lie hanging ominously in the air, the question is, who is telling that lie, you or the book that you are reading?

These scenarios came to mind as I monitored the recent faceoff between Sahara Reporters’ Omoyele Sowore and Dr. Reuben Abati, a former progressive intellectual who, sadly, is now in charge of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Ministry of Truth. The first cause of disagreement between the two men needs no further elaboration beyond the necessary reiteration of Sowore’s demand for the full list of President Jonathan’s official entourage to Addis Ababa. Dr Abati has not denied reports that he claimed to have forgotten the list in his hotel room in Addis Ababa at the time of Sowore’s initial request last week. We are still waiting and I hope the goats of Addis Ababa are not as ravenous as the goats of Yoruba land. The truant kid who fails his exam can return home at the end of the term and claim that a goat ate his report card. Perhaps a goat invaded Dr Abati’s hotel room in Addis Ababa and ate the list?

While we wait for him to make good on his promise to release the list and thereby prove that the President’s entourage to Addis comprised “not more than 32 people”, as opposed to the higher figures that had been reported, I must again express considerable sadness that this is what Dr Abati has been reduced to: an unrecognizable marionette who must now split hairs to explain the difference between stealing a cow and stealing a goat to the Nigerian people. No, we were about thirty-two people on the trip and not fifty-seven as was reported, as if it was okay to jamboree thirty-two people to Addis Ababa in the first place.

In Addis Ababa, they characteristically mismanaged everything including the question of President Jonathan’s woolly-headed moves for the AU Presidency. Why an incompetent President, whose leadership report card, is evidenced by the distraught condition of Nigeria and ECOWAS, would get ambitious about leading the AU is beyond me. Moreover, the moment news of that scuttled ambition filtered out of Addis, I knew that his Ministry of Truth would enter panic and crisis mode and swing into action. That much was predictable. What I couldn’t predict was the format of the damage control. Would Dr. Abati dare to depart from Aso Rock’s compulsive recourse to irritating lies in every situation?

Spinning, nuancing, and glossing come with the territory of statecraft. Those with no temperament for euphemisms call it deniability. There are countless occasions when the Presidency or the President must not be disgraced, humiliated, or embarrassed, hence the recourse to spin, nuance, and gloss by spokespersons of a given administration as they retail talking points to the public. That much we understand. In advanced democracies, officials of the state try as much as possible to spin, nuance, gloss or stretch the truth with considerable circumspection. You want to make sure that the spin does not cross the border into the province of outright lies because there are consequences for lying to the people. If you lie under oath, that is perjury; if you lie ex-oath and you are caught, the people will wait for you and your principal at the ballot box.

Alas, Federal statehood in Nigeria comes with the sort of unbridled impunity that I described in my essay, “The Nigerian Presidency: Assault with a Deadly Weapon.” Impunity translates to the absence of consequences for even the most grievous travesties committed by the agents of an omnipotent presidency. The absence of consequences means that the Nigerian presidency enjoys the luxury of telling endless lies without repercussion. And who wants to deal with the strictures of spinning, glossing, or nuancing your way out of tight situations when an outright lie would do the trick without unsavoury consequences? This explains why the Nigerian presidency does not just lie primordially, she lies needlessly and continuously about the obvious and the unnecessary. As far as institutions of state go, the Nigerian presidency is a lie telling lies as I explained in my essay, “iro n paro fun ro”. Precisely because that institution has enshrined lying and lies as the singular basis of her social contract with the Nigerian people since October 1, 1960, she has created a citizenry that knows the opposite to be true of whatever she has to say.

Thus, when Reuben Abati rushed out a press statement claiming that Yayi Boni did not defeat Jonathan in Addis Ababa and that the West African caucus did not reject the idea of his leadership, I knew instinctively that the opposite had to be true, given the history of the Nigerian presidency and her integrity-challenged officials. The first thing I did was to make a number of phone calls to strategic contacts in Cotonou, Lomé, Abidjan, and Dakar to get a firsthand assessment of the situation from the viewpoint of our Francophone friends. Was there a prevailing sentiment of a Nigerian ambition in the build-up to the summit in Addis Ababa? How was this ambition reported in the media? As soon as I heard the other side from various sources on the ground, I did next logical thing: scour the internet for my daily dosage of newspapers from Francophone West Africa.

All the Francophone newspapers that I read reported the exact opposite of what Reuben Abati had claimed in his press statement to Nigerians. Even before the summit, on January 26, 2012, the pan-Francophonic weekly magazine, Jeune Afrique, had reported “murmurs” of President Jonathan’s ambition. The report indicates that Cotonou “was surprised” by the information on the Nigerian president’s ambition. In the penultimate paragraph of its own report, insists that the names of Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan had made the round as “candidates” in addition to Yayi Boni but the leaders of West African countries decided to support the candidacy of Yayi Boni.

La Nouvelle Tribune was even more detailed in its own account of the intrigues that led to the collapse of President Jonathan’s ambition in Addis Ababa. The newspaper regaled her readers with juicy details of the situation that Abati had tried to deny in his press statement: President Jonathan’s candidacy; behind-the-scene moves by the Beninois delegation to gain a concession from the Nigerians; the decision by Ghana and Burkina Faso to support Benin Republic in the face of the obduracy of the Nigerian delegation; subsequent public announcements of support for Yayi Boni by Ghana and Burkina Faso to checkmate Nigeria.

According to La Nouvelle Tribune, it was only after these public announcements of support for Boni by other West African delegations, and after further pressure by Ghana, that Nigeria finally saw the handwriting on the wall and backed off. All the Francophone radio stations that I listened to on January 29 and 30, from Gabon to Benin Republic, Togo to Senegal, and Mali to Côte d’Ivoire, pretty much confirmed these details as reported in the newspapers. True, they confirmed it in the celebratory tone informed by the usual Francophone/Anglophone rivalry, complete with the usual hints of giant resentment but they were nonetheless all very consistent in terms of the details of Nigeria’s ambition. And Reuben Abati would have us believe that none of this ever happened! President Jonathan was never interested, was never a candidate! He even worked assiduously for Yayi Boni’s election! Somehow, everybody else in Africa made it all up! Waoh.

President Jonathan and his handlers dreamed up the ill-fated ambition to gun for the Presidency of the AU because their juvenile rivalry with a far better governed South Africa. Nigerians should worry about the modes of actuation of that ambition. A few commentators, including yours truly, have grumbled that a President who has so thoroughly malgoverned Nigeria, serving as undertaker for his citizens via Boko Haram, armed robbery, unemployment, fuel subsidy removal, and general economic hardship, should not be gourmandizing for regional leadership. That view is only partly right. The real problem is what the President didn’t do in the months leading to Addis Ababa. We heard of no scrupulously thought-out leadership vision, no carefully planned roadmaps to continental initiatives with actionable results going to Addis Ababa. The possibility of continental leadership thus becomes a function of somebody’s perfunctory, spur of the moment brainwave, possibly over peppersoup and Sapele water. He was going to become AU President first and think later about what to do, maybe constitute a thousand advisory committees along the way, as is his wont. Does that sound familiar about how he rules Nigeria?

There is worse. If we were dealing with reasonable people, one would have hoped that the humiliation suffered in Addis Ababa would be an occasion for serious lessons and sober reflection. What went wrong? Maybe the days of thinking that the rest of Africa would just queue up behind us because we have 160 million people and oil money to throw around are over. Maybe we should try to put our house in order? Maybe we should face corruption, Boko Haram, youth unemployment, comatose infrastructure, deeper questions of Nigerian statehood and federalism and hope to earn the respect of the continent based on how we run our own lives? After all, when someone promises to buy you new clothes, you examine his own vestments. Africa now has responsible democracies to look up to in Ghana, Botswana, Benin Republic and South Africa. What should we do to join that league?

These would be the reasonable working questions of genuine leaders in the wake of the Addis Ababa summit. Alas, the rulers of Nigeria are wired differently. They are wired weirdly. On the flight back to Abuja from Addis, they probably were asking: who did we forget to bribe? Should we have promised President Atta Mills an oil block? Looks like funding for HIV/AIDS clinics is drying up in Ghana and a major international agency is pulling out of Accra. Maybe we should offer to take over the funding of Ghana’s HIV/AIDS programme as the giant of Africa? Will they support us at next year’s summit if we did that? Meanwhile, Reuben, don’t forget to release a statement when we land that this never happened o.

I have written repeatedly in this column that Nigerian government officials – especially those in the Presidency – are not believable. They are utterly contemptible liars, direct descendants of Apate, the famed goddess of lies and deceit in Greek mythology. Even without the benefit of my research into the issue at hand, ain’t no chance in hell that I would have believed an Aso Rock statement anyway. They have lied to the Nigerian people too often for one to grant them such considerations. A lie hangs in the air about what actually transpired in Addis Ababa. There is no doubt in my mind that the account of the Nigerian presidency is a blatant lie. This brings us back to Baba Sala: who is lying about Addis Ababa, Reuben Abati or the press statement he issued Pius Adesanmi?

Northern governors and the politics of oil BY REUBEN ABATI

Culled from the Guardian Newspaper Friday August 1 2008.

THE big news of the week in my estimation is the declaration by the chairman of the Forum of Northern Governors, the Chief Servant of Niger State, Dr Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu at a programme tagged First Northern Agricultural Summit on Monday, July 28, to the effect that Northern Governors have resolved to turn their back on oil revenue and develop the agricultural resources of the North. Dr Aliyu was speaking on behalf of the 19 Governors of the Northern states of Nigeria, and at the same forum, his views were further echoed by the Adamawa state Governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako. Dr Aliyu declared: “The future of the north lies in our hands. We should today begin to shape our destiny. As a Nigerian of Northern extraction, I feel very unhappy when somebody describes me as a parasite because of oil, when I know that I have the capacity to solve my problems and probably do even better through agriculture and education.” And so the North wants to go back to agriculture, with the hope that the financial sector of the economy will provide necessary support.

The politics of this declaration is important: the Northern Governors are responding directly to widespread insinuations in the Southern part of the country that the North is rather parasitic, contributing little to the commonwealth and yet getting more than a lion share of the national cake. Over the years, this distrust of the North has been expressed ever so loudly by Southern leaders and interest groups; thus turning geography into one of the more delicate sub-texts of Nigerian politics. Issues of contention include the population of the north, the political delineation of the North, resource allocation, the relatively low contribution of the North to national GDP, and the unusually large presence of the north in positions of power and authority. At the centre of this is the politics of oil, the allocation of federal revenue accruing mainly from the sale of crude oil.

The ThisDay newspaper in reporting the Northern Governors quoted them as saying: “North can survive without oil”. The Champion gave the story an even more provocative edge in its headline: “To hell with your oil: North tells South”. This is perhaps the most radical response coming from the north so far on the question of oil and its control since 1958. Before now, the Northern intelligentsia had tried to argue that the crude oil in the Niger Delta belongs to all Nigerians and not to the owners of the land from which it is extracted. The late Dr Bala Usman on many occasions even pushed a curious argument based on geology to wit: the oil deposits in the Delta flowed, over the years from the Northern parts of the country, and so the real owners of the oil in the Delta are the people of the North. A second notable response was the attempt by the then North-dominated Federal Military Government to find oil by all means in the North. So much money was spent on a search for oil in the Chad Basin, until the explorers got tired of searching. And now in 2008, the Northern Governors, for the first time have declared that “the Niger Delta can go to hell” with its oil and that without oil, the North can and will survive.

One of the earliest reactions to this came from the Arewa Consultative Forum, the social and political forum for Northern leaders, with the ACF saying that Northerners are indeed “lazy and parasites who rely on other regions for survival. There is no reason to run away from the truth.” But in s strange balancing act in the same statement, the ACF blames the Niger Delta for the economic woes of the North because according to it, people of the Niger Delta raided the Middle Belt for slaves during the slave trade era. All of these seemingly entangled issues can be taken apart.

The intervention of the ACF is at best a form of damage control, for if prompt effect were to be given to the wishes of the Northern Governors, the development process in the north which is essentially dependent on oil revenue will grind to a complete and final halt. But Dr Aliyu and his colleagues could not have been calling for a sudden stoppage of the sweet and free funds coming for the Federation Account. Their statement was clearly politically inspired and aspirational in terms of their development projections for the North. But talk is cheap. However, it is not only the North that is dependent on oil, it is not only the Northern states that are parasitic, nor is it only the people of the north that have become lazy. The curse of oil affects every part of Nigeria and all the people. Nigeria’s national productivity index is one of the lowest in the developing world.

The black gold is at the root of most of the ills in the Nigerian society: the laziness of the leadership elite, the bowl in hand, beggarly conduct of the states and the imposition of unitarist modes on the governance process in spite of the federalist principles in the Constitution. It is the entire country that is lazy and parasitic therefore: and it is one of the reasons why the people and the militants of the Niger Delta have had to continue to remind the rest of the country to become productive and make a contribution to the national pool instead of stealing Niger Delta resources in a greedy and unfair manner which leaves nearly nothing for the real owners of the resources. This wake up call had been long in coming but it is now more strident with the insistence of the people of the Delta on federalism, the militancy in the creeks and calls for resource control.

It is perhaps not difficult to see why the North is specially targeted and labelled an unproductive part of the Nigerian Union. The ACF accuses the people of the Niger Delta of raiding the Middle Belt for slaves during the slave trade era. The slave trade ended over 200 years ago. Where is the connection with the development crisis in the North? The ACF’s statement in this regard is meaningless, and this is unfortunate coming from the same ACF that is humble enough to admit that the South is saving the North. The problem with the North is its elite. Nearly every politician who becomes a big man in the North wears a big babaringa and refuses to work. More than any other group in Nigeria, the northern elite have had more access to state resources and more control over the same resources, but this has not been used to bring development to the people.

The same oil resources that Southerners claim Northern leaders have taken have largely been used to oppress the poor in the North and sustain feudalism. In this regard, the average Northerner is just as aggrieved as the average Southerner, for in the end, the patterns of dispossession imposed on this society by successive governments at all levels have produced uniform grief. The underdevelopment of the North has nothing to do with the slave trade; it has a lot to do with the attitude and lifestyle of the Northern man of power. Northern Governors trace the de-industrialisation crisis in the North to “international conspiracy against the North”, If there is any conspiracy at all, it is internal and it is the conspiracy of the northern elite against their own people.

One example: Governor Danjuma Goje of Gombe state has approved for himself and his predecessor in office a sum of N200 million as “executive pension”. The North, like the South, is in need of new leaders, not rent-collectors. If Northern Governors want development, they must begin with changes at the level of attitude and lifestyle. Nothing in Northern agriculture as proposed can sustain their present lifestyle. Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako, the Adamawa Governor, was right when he lamented as follows: “No nation has ever enjoyed lasting peace and stability or could ever survive when only a few of its citizens wallow in wealth and affluence at par with the rich of other nations, while the rest of its citizens are entrapped in poverty.. the simple truth is that the above reality obtains more in the North than other parts of the country”.

Northern Governors have been holding meetings since 1961, and at every meeting, they talk about the same issues – agriculture, education and development. But nearly 50 years later, there are more poor people in the north than other parts of Nigeria. The streets are full of distracted kids, with bowls in hand begging for alms during school hours. When UNICEF reports that more than ten million Nigerian children of school age are out of school, they can be found mostly in the North.

Northern Governors want to focus on agriculture, but to use agriculture as a launch pad for growth and development, the states must invest first in education. Who will work on the farms that the North will set up? In a few years, the growing population of almajiris on Northern streets will be old enough to be mobilised for riots not for any productive activity. It is a shame that many years after independence, the North continues to enjoy an affirmative action privilege in education and politics, which easily annoys Southerners who feel that they face much stiffer competition in seeking and gaining access to opportunities. Who will manage the agricultural renaissance of the North? This same set of fertilizer-stealing, rent-collecting elite? And where is their blue-print?

North-South relations in Nigeria are often constructed in form of rivalry and competition, and this is discernible in the tone of the statements by the Northern Governors and also the ACF. But it is an unhealthy competition that promotes further divisions. Rather than dismiss the Niger Delta and its oil, the Northern Governors should show humility and gratitude. If they are serious, they should be more interested in raising constitutional questions and seeking reviews which would free the North and other parts of Nigeria from the tag of “parasitism”, and which in the long run will ensure a return to federalism under which every state in Nigeria will be required to become productive. Under that new arrangement, the Niger Delta people will be glad to go to “hell” as advised