When I saw this news header on Channels TV “Mind Your Language, There’s Life After Office, ACN Warns Abati” I felt somewhat vindicated. This in fact has been my take ever since my friend and colleague took the presidential job. Hear the ACN accusation:
“The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has decried the growing propensity of presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, to resort to the use of foul language against critics of the Goodluck Jonathan Administration, saying such crude verbal attacks may boomerang on the presidency, if left unchecked.”
I’m not an ACN sympathizer but I agree with them.
I have read many Twitter posts of Abati and have cringed on many occasions wondering how he could make some such crude remarks. I understand that his job is not an easy one. I do not agree with those who say Reuben should not have taken up the job (someone has to do it). I do not agree with those who say that having been a government critic for so long Reuben Abati should not now “betray” principles by supporting the government. No. He did well to take the job, for who better to help the government that he who knew enough of the other side to criticize it?
I also do not agree with those who say that even while in office Reuben Abati should criticize the government. He cannot do that for he is now an employee of the government. His job is to help the government be understood, tutor President Jonathan on how to communicate and package government to be more presentable.
In doing all these however, he has to be polite and gentle. He cannot be the bulldog that Doyin Okupe is, nor the likes of Tony Anenih (whose emergence on Jonathan’s scene is clear indication of how desperate the government of the day has become). Reuben Abati went there largely as a respected journalist. All journalists remain his colleague. He must remain theirs, in deed and in speech.
There is life after office.