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Reuben Abati: Don’t Abuse the President, Respect His Office



Reuben Abati - Bella Naija
Special Adviser to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Reuben Abati, in an interview with Anule Emmanuel from New Telegraph speaks on criticism, insecurity and milestones.

It’s a long read, but worth it.

Read excerpts;
Jonathan - May 2014 - 01
On if it worries him the way some individuals attack President: “We are in a political dispensation and we have an opposition that is hyper active and likes to pick on the government and the President on a regular basis. My position is that in a democracy and under an administration that encourages the freedom of expression, you cannot rule out a situation where people will insist on their freedom of expression and say whatever they like, as long as the media encourages them and gives them the platform to express themselves.

The thing to note nonetheless is that this administration has nothing against the freedom of expression. It welcomes the opposition’s right to express its views but what we have complained about regularly is that the President while welcoming criticism would also want to see constructive criticism. The President is the President of every Nigerian. He has repeatedly made it very clear that whether you are a Muslim, Christian or animist, atheist, a Northerner or Southerner, he as President is the President of everybody. If the opposition says that their duty is to play politics with everything and to condemn government, what the government is asking for is that at least let it be constructive. The opposition in other parts of the world doesn’t play politics of abuse.

They come up with ideas, so when you see us engaging in any kind of altercation with the opposition, check it out. Two statements have always come out of my office. The first is: don’t abuse the President, respect his office, you may not like that office, but respect the fact that it is a special institution at the heart of our democracy. We all have a duty as Nigerians to protect it, so don’t engage in the politics of abuse, don’t pull it down.

Second, be constructive and being constructive means, come up with ideas. If there is something that you disagree with, that the government is doing and you don’t want, give us an alternative.

Part of your duty is to say, we think government is going in this direction, we think government should go in this direction. That will be the politics of ideas, but unfortunately, if you check the content of opposition politics in Nigeria, it is devoted to the politics of abuse.

It is always easy to abuse people and throw words around. It is always convenient to talk and not think, because it takes some effort to think. Our appeal is that the opposition should please play the politics of reason and ideas and we will continue to appeal to them. We will not be discouraged by their refusal to toe the path of reason.”

On if Jonathan is winning the war against terrorism: “Yes. Absolutely, yes.

In this matter, the forces of good will prevail over the forces of evil and the agents of darkness. Nigeria will prevail and it is our conviction that we will all be here to witness that moment of triumph. In addition, President Jonathan has made it clear on many occasions that what Nigerians are confronted with is an unconventional war, which requires collective effort to resolve.

This is a type of war in which you can even say that the enemy is faceless or that you don’t know who the enemy is. The enemy can be anywhere, the enemy is a hidden one, without a defined uniform or location and who can strike anywhere at any time. This kind of warfare challenges even the training of the security forces who have been trained to deal with conventional warfare.

It is a kind of warfare in which the issues involved are nebulous and perpetually mutating. We are facing a kind of nihilistic warfare in which the enemy is even prepared to commit suicide to achieve whatever ideological or criminal objectives. What that means therefore is that this being an unusual war, nobody can effectively put a date to the end of it. We recognise this special challenge.

Nigeria is not the first country that will face the scourge of terror. The British fought the IRA terrorists for so many years. It took the United States almost 10 years to track down Osama Bin Laden. And even that has not ended the threat of terrorism in the world. But you can look at the situation in Nigeria in terms of specific milestones.”

On the milestone: “The first major challenge of terrorism in Nigeria started in 2002 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, so it is something that this administration inherited. By 2009, it was already getting worse, but this administration came in and began to confront it. What we are witnessing at the moment is a resurgence; a desperate effort by terrorists to assert themselves.

When President Jonathan declared a state of emergency 18 months ago, after a few months, the security forces were able to restrict the terrorists to just about a forest. They destroyed their enclaves, mobilised ordinary people to take ownership of counter-terrorism initiatives and effectively put the terrorists on the run. For close to a year, there was peace and stability in the affected areas.

Before the first declaration of a state of emergency, the terrorists had carved out enclaves, they had hoisted their own flags and had threatened to take over the entire Nigerian state. But the military with the capacity that they acquired, pushed them back, took over these three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) and even began to enjoy the confidence of the local communities, with even the people themselves taking ownership of the fight against terrorism.

But now, the agents of Lucifer are back with greater fury and vengeance. I have no doubt in my mind that the Nigerian security forces, even if they are fighting an unconventional warfare, have been able to acquire capacity and experience and are showing real determination in dealing with the challenge.

With the support that they are receiving from the international community and with the solidarity and partnership that has been forged with neighbouring countries and other countries on the continent and elsewhere, there can be no doubt that through concerted effort, the war will be won. But nobody can put a specific date to it; nevertheless the will of government to win the war is stronger than the determination of the terrorists.”

On Nigerians expressing concern that people arrested over the issue of insecurity are hardly being prosecuted: “The legal prosecution of suspects in any matter whatsoever does not take place on the pages of newspapers; it takes place in the law courts. What is known is that government has made it clear that it will not condone impunity of any sort.

There are persons in detention centres, there are those who are being prosecuted and convicted almost on a daily basis in the law courts. But you know how these things work, so many of the people who are making those statements are speaking out of ignorance because they do not know what exactly is happening. I mean, this government will not condone criminality or promote any kind of barbaric indulgence.

And the judiciary has remained a very strong institution under this administration. You can be sure that the security agencies will continue to function, and those cases that can be established for the purposes of prosecution, will go through due process. It is not standard practice for the judiciary to be conducting its business on the pages of newspapers.

So those making such allegations, they probably need to do a little more home work to find out the truth rather than just condemn the government on the basis of their own ignorance.”

For the full interview, click here


  1. @edDREAMZ

    June 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Were person dey work na there him dey chop thats why dem call work-chop… well i believe in jonah, the man really wish naija well no doubt….


    June 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Totally agree. The office of the president represents every Nigerian.When you make a joke with it, you disrespect your self too.

    • Jane

      June 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

      when Abati was not in office he was very critical of the government and even wrote disrespectful articles about GEJ and Patience ……… he is chopping money he has become such an ass licker. Good thing the articles are still available

      i quote ……….by Reubenn Abati
      When people suddenly find themselves in such latter position, prepared or unprepared, anywhere in the world, they are taken through a crash programme in finishing and poise and made to realize that being the wife of an important man comes with serious responsibilities lest they sabotage the same person that they should be supporting. If Dame Patience went through such re-orientation, the course was incomplete.

  3. We!

    June 10, 2014 at 12:03 am

    We’ve just started with all of Una! Bunch of bullies! Respect ur citizens first den we’ll respect u back! After all we employed u guys! Respect beget respect! Dumbos!!

  4. peter

    June 10, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Wats dis man saying self, how can he say the president is wining the war against terrorism , when the chibok girls are no where to be found, 30 woman were kidnap again.. I think i cnt blame him , bcos he is defending his boss to avoid being sack.

  5. peter

    June 10, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Wats dis man saying self, how can he say the president is wining the war against terrorism , when the chibok girls are no where to be found, 30 woman were kidnap again.. I think i cnt blame him , bcos he is defending his boss to avoid being sack..

    • jummailolo

      June 10, 2014 at 8:53 am

      its “being sacked” thank me later.

  6. ao

    June 10, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Mr. Abati, in a democracy, one does not get to choose what type of criticism citizens give. Deal with it. If GEJ does not like the types of criticism he gets, then he should step down. Tell your boss to take a page out of Obama’s book and develop some thick skin. And while we are on the topic of respecting the office of the presidency, GEJ should lead by example and start by hiding that disgrace of a wife that has embarrassed Nigerians all over the world with her painful-to-watch display of “deris God ooo”.

  7. Wale

    June 10, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Respect an office that he (Jonathan) himself and the sychophants like Abati that surround him have dragged through the mud and rubbished (ah ba sha! ya ma ya ma!). The office of the Nigerian president today as it stands, is not worth a grain of salt. It needs to be sanitized with Izol(by this, I mean everyone in Aso Villa have to be ejected{even, plus,including madam peace} tied up and purged of all the money they’ve stolen and then tied up on drums and shamed publicly in bar beach). *spit*. When we have a honest, credible and visionary leader, we shall once again respect the Office of The President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    • Colour Purple

      June 10, 2014 at 7:51 am

      There is no bar beach anymore *sad face* thanks to eko atlantic….next to go are probably elegushi, lekki and alpha beach….

  8. Ada

    June 10, 2014 at 2:18 am

    Here is some constructive criticism for you little pieces of shit: stop sitting on your black behinds doing absolutely nothing, stealing money and talking shit on tv. Stop making no damn sense in interviews, stop exposing your idiocy and stupidity by opening your little shitholes to complain about Nigerians abusing you. Instead, here’s an idea, do something for fuck’s sake. Act like a president and maybe we’ll treat you like one.


    June 10, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Reuben Abati is one journalist that would have abused the president more than most Nigerians if he wasn’t in The Presidency.

  10. hawwah

    June 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

    The president is incompetent, Ha! I just did. I will stop when it becomes a lie

  11. mama mia!!!

    June 10, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Look, it is a democratic rule. Deal with it! Obama and his likes go through worse but keep it going. If your boss can’t take the heat, it’s time he leaves the kitchen. Simple!!!

  12. hmmm

    June 10, 2014 at 7:26 am

    i am sad that we are blaming him for the killings and abducted girls….if and only we can unite to say No to the Northern idiots causing confusion in the country maybe he will have the courage to do more.sometimes i get angry that he is not being hard enough with the northerners but what can he really do alone if we don’t give him the support he needs?
    AS for you bellanaija,you block comments when it concerns those waka-pass actors and actresses but u have the audacity to allow some idiots insulting uncle Jona and mama Peace?
    if you like no post my comment

    • Ada nnewi

      June 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      We are being ruled by a bunch of incompetents whose only competence is stealing, and you are in denial…

  13. agree

    June 10, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Me I dnt like all dis kind of tIns if u know Ure a true democrat b bold xpose ur identity and send an open nasty message tO d president. Oh U cnt? Ure Scared but u Want hIm to jump in front of every issue And tackle U guys Shd set a good example first

  14. Idak

    June 10, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Reuben, your boss is clueless, inept,uninspiring in speech and action besides being docile.
    It is not an insult,it is a statement of fact.
    I could say more but I’ve got more pressing issues to attend to.

  15. NNENNE

    June 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    All the people who want GEJ to hide his wife, you are the reason men treat their spouses nasty when they think they have arrived. “She is too fat, she is too short, she cannot dress well, she is not presentable, she does not fit me…” Mr. President married her when he was nobody and am glad she is taking her place as his wife. Love GEJ for that.

    We all are quick to compare our president with the Obamas but the big question is: If Obama was a Nigerian, would he become a president? Given his background, race (switch it with ethnicity), would our king makers nominate him to run for presidency?
    There are so many Obamas among us in every state. Let’s place them in the right place in our society.
    Nepotism is one of Nigeria’s undoing.

    • Ady

      June 11, 2014 at 10:28 am

      find out about jonathan`s background dont just blab

  16. Nigeriahasfailed

    June 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Abati, you are a CERTIFIED FOOL. You and your boss have done nothing but disgrace yourselves and Nigerians as a whole. This is what corrupted, wicked minds sounds like. The country is in shambles but have the audacity to scold citizens to respect a dummy. What a foolish idiot. Until Nigerians use their brain, common sense to lead properly, the insult will stop. As of now, Jonathan and his dumb Sheeps deserve no respect

  17. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    June 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    We recognize that things aren’t always black and white, Sir. There are the shades of grey that are invariably subject to different interpretations. The Government of today may be doing things, making decisions that are for the benefit of the common man and the Country itself that are not obvious in themselves or that cannot be boldly printed on the front pages of newspapers, but are clearly and strongly for the good of the country. This we acknowledge, but please don’t really expect us to thank them for doing their jobs.

    I know you understand that the citizens of this country would only speak to matters as it affects their lives, Sir. They don’t have an in, neither are they necessarily interested in the delicate nuances of language, placating and assuaging egos and the delicate mastery of favors asked and assumed that is the norm in the world of politics. We understand power, as what the Government has over the people. It is titillating, it is exciting, it is arousing. It could also be very wicked and cruel, which is the hand the citizens of these country know they have been dealt. Its really simple for them: Is there Power or is there no Power?, Are we safe or are we not safe?, Are there jobs or there no jobs? Are the refineries working or they not working?, Do people who loot, steal and defraud get prosecuted or do they go scot free? Will I spend 7 years in school studying a 4 year course or will I graduate when it I’m due to? Will my child die because the doctors in the public hospital in my area are on strike?

    There are acts of terrorism and rumors of acts of terrorism all over the world. There is unemployment, There are schools even in the ghettos in the USA that have no windows and broken seats. There is fear, there is no money and countries going -a – borrowing has become the norm. Governments’ get criticized every where for doing something or for doing nothing. There would always be the noise makers even when all things are bright and beautiful. But where the bad far out weighs the good no one will make allowances for the grey areas, just like no one will make any allowances for the Goodluck Jonathan administration as president of Nigeria.

    You Sir, were once ……… well… Were Once. I used to love watching you on Channels TV, where you spoke so passionately and incisively on issues concerning the Country. I particularly liked listening to you because you did not speak with crusted oyibo accents. You spoke like a Nigerian with an Egba undertone. I quite understand the position you are in. You literarily cannot bite the hand that feeds you. Do not however expect us to also be robbed of our right to speak truthfully and call things as they are we have not compromised for anything. I admit that a little restraint can be exercised on the part of some . But the Government has given the citizens too much ammunition against it and inevitably, some people go trigger happy. Try looking through our eyes once in a while as you once did, it may keep you in touch with who You were, if you ever were.

  18. NNENNE

    June 12, 2014 at 2:43 am

    @Ade… it’s not just about background , do the comparison with Obama’s intelligence and oratory ability.

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