Uncle Reuben Abati: Now That Your Phones Have Stopped Ringing, By Ahmed Oluwasanjo

imageDear Uncle Reuben,

It’s a pleasure to write you this open letter in response to your recently syndicated piece, “The Phones No Longer Ring”. First, I’m glad you’re back, for those of us who respected your views as a writer and took you as a role model before you were called to serve as Special Adviser Media to the immediate past president. Your appointment was well deserved and it would be wrong for anyone to kick against it because we all want to see professionals serve and make a difference in our polity.

Sadly, your story is akin to that of the biblical prodigal son who came back to town after squandering all the good he left home with in a strange land. Uncle, frankly, your social capital and acceptance earned through sheer hard work and commitment to fighting for the cause of the poor has waned. I am sure you know that an average Nigerian who knew the then Abati, and the Abati who served as SA Media in the immediate past administration, would not take you seriously, particularly after comparing your social stance before and after you joined them in Aso Rock. Your previous articles are out there to prove me right.

Second, Uncle you said, “The Jonathan government had to deal from the very first day with a desperate and hyper-negative opposition, which gained help from a crowd of naysayers who bought into their narrative”. But you forgot to acknowledge the fact that you were once a fire-spitting traducer of past presidents. Patience Jonathan also had her fair share of your vitriol sometimes in 2010, before you became her husband’s Yes Man. Surprising, you became quiet at the crunch of sweet presidential suya. Haba Uncle!

Your published and later retracted libellous article about Muhamadu Buhari’s link with Boko Haram reinforces my claim on this and it also evince how desperate and hyper-negative you were just because you needed to do your job as the president’s spokesman. I wouldn’t want to remind you of pictures of the Kano State project you posted during electioneering as a Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda project. If you could throw the ethics of journalism to the wind just to serve your boss, why agonise over some editors saying the truth about the administration you served?

Uncle, while I wouldn’t hold brief for the busybodies, hawks, and those who felt they deserved to get their fair share of the national cake from you, I would not hesitate to speak about those who sought your assistance to pay school fees that you mentioned in the article. Uncle, if you will be honest, you would agree with me that before you became SA Media you must have attended to many of such calls. No doubt it increased when you got into government, but it only tells more of the hardship in the country. It needn’t have been mentioned in your piece. There are people who have not attained your status but who sponsor several people’s education without making this known publicly, just like Jesus taught us never to brag over rendering assistance.

Uncle Reuben, you had Uncle Olusegun Adeniyi’s case as an example to learn from but unfortunately you didn’t. I hope Uncle Femi Adesina and others would learn from both of you that the reputation, career, voice and public acceptance they have suffered to develop over the years is not worth wasting in politics, most especially when the government they are serving is on the wrong course. However, we cannot ostracise you because you are always useful in the Nigerian journalism space, most especially now that your phones are no longer ringing.

Welcome back Uncle Reuben.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja.

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