I read with interest the article written by the former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity Dr. Reuben Abati titled “The phones no longer ring.” The article which generated mixed reactions was a reality of what becomes of a public office holder when he is out of office. As a matter of fact, the frustrations of a very prolific Abati that we used to read in The Guardian newspaper in those days to improve our writing prowess are well understood.
For an Abati, the phones will no longer ring like they used to, at least for now. As a matter of fact, the votes of Nigerians silenced the phones of his former boss from the moment the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Muhammadu Buhari winner of that memorable election.
Foremost, I have never been bothered about any ex- employee or appointee of former President Goodluck Jonathan because they have ‘Buhariphobia’ which is more than enough to cope with if found wanting and needing to make some ‘refunds’ to Nigeria.
However, I must say that I observed clearly an attempt by Abati to make his literary prowess a pedestal for which he needs to launch back into public space which he has hitherto missed during his sojourn to Aso Villa where his phones ranged for four years.
Of course, the truism that “he who pays the piper dictates the tune” cannot be left out of the situation the former spokesperson found himself. My reaction was orchestrated by my observation in what has become the personality of Abati in the last few years, even as he wrote his first article to regain back fans in his literary space.
The narration of Abati was a description of a service in a destabilised, defensive, disorganised and unwilling system. Think of this for a moment, from day one in office, Abati got a clear picture of what he was hired to do and was willing to play the card either for the glory of his esteemed office as a spokesperson for the then President and/or any additional reason(s) best known to Abati himself.
In reality, considering the cluelessness of the Jonathan government, all professionals hired to serve in that government were required to make up for the weakness of their boss which was lack of capacity to deliver on the designated tasks.
Even when out of office, Abati still referred to the then opposition All Progressives Congress as “desperate and hyper negative.” But today, the class Abati referred to as hyper negative elements are making clear difference to school him and his former principal how to run a government with adequate consideration to the feelings of everyone.
In Abati’s submission, I am worried that it is still not clear to him that one can speak for a government without recourse to insulting those with dissenting opinions about the policies of same government one works for. In most civilised world like America and Europe, spokespersons to the President or Prime Minister speak for the government but do not speak against the people as there is a clear cut difference between the two.
But it is obvious that because Abati is used to defence as conflicting strategies he has lived with for few years back, his very first article was premised on making an expose of the kind of pressure he went through in the hands of Nigerians begging for money or for favour. This is a sharp defence mechanism to attract pity and sway emotions on his side as a helpless former public office holder.
To Abati, a very friendly memoir of his account of office suitable for everyone’s consumption, possibly humorous, would have been a very good way to launch back to public space. Well, Abati has become used to verbal missile over the time. There is truly something missing in the public relation skill expected of an ex-spokesperson to the President of a country. The people win no matter how one looks at it.
Clearly, Abati is coping with the loneliness of his time, more so when the glamour of celebrating people who served with a bad government is gradually being detached from our system with on-going seriousness of the present government. I think that if not for ‘Buhariphobia,’ Abati would have bagged several post service awards of excellence weeks after he left office.
Simply, Abati missed those invitations for awards and accolades that would immediately follow his exit from public office.
And now, he should know the reasons why his phones are no longer ringing. The people are simply not interested in talking with him even if he is ready to do so.