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Reuben Abati’s “Explosive” Interview, talks Boko Haram & blasts GEJ’s Critics



President Jonathan & Reuben Abati - August 2014 - BN News - 01

Now this is a must read.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, which he calls “explosive”, defends the commander-in-chief President Jonathan, blasts the opposition party – APC, and addresses reports that the government is not doing anything to end insecurity

Reuben Abati - August 2014 - BN News - 01
Read excerpts;
On going cold after joining the government: “This is an old question. I have responded to this question so many times. I don’t owe anybody an apology. It was my decision to take, to work for government, and in particular to work for President Goodluck Jonathan because I believe in him and I admire him. And having taken that decision, I am not going to spend my time apologising to people because as an individual, I have the right to make a choice.

It was my choice to work for President Jonathan and to accept the position of his spokesperson and media adviser and I have absolutely no apology and I have seen that for me, it is a positive move because today, I consider myself much better informed, because I have been on both sides. I have lived the life of the outsider looking at government, governance and society from one observatory and I have also been inside and I can see how government functions.

I don’t think any form of apprenticeship in terms of exposure to public life can be higher than working with the president of a democratic country, working at the highest level of authority. It puts you in a vantage position to learn so much. If this was a course of study in which a certificate is awarded, I think I should be getting close to getting one, having taken so many course units and learning so much.

I am talking about apprenticeship in a serious sense, and the opportunity also to serve one’s country. I don’t think anybody can put that down by saying ‘you were once a social critic, you shouldn’t be here.’ No. In fact, I will encourage so many other journalists and persons in other capacities to come into government and work for government. Why is it an issue that when a journalist works for government, people complain? There are doctors in government. There are engineers working for government, their colleagues have not carried placards. We all have a duty to play a role in the making of our country.

But of course, since I came here, I have seen many of those who criticised me ferociously – our own colleagues – hanging around and hustling for appointments and many of them have taken this or that position in government, much excitedly too. And when they land on this side, I say to them: ‘Ha, I thought you wrote an article the other day and published articles criticising Reuben Abati. You are on this side now too.’ I welcome them and I congratulate them. So, you see, I have no apologies whatsoever. I have no regrets also.”

On criticism that GEJ’s administration isn’t achieving anything: “I don’t know who you are talking about because when you say some people, the only people I still see out there that are misinforming and misleading the people are people who have partisan interests. They are persons who sponsor other people to pull down government because they themselves are interested in the office of the president. But you see, it doesn’t matter, the amount of blackmail or hate campaign or disinformation that those persons put out. They cannot run away from the facts and the facts speak for themselves in terms of the achievements of this administration. And I will urge you also, as a journalist who has the opportunity to do little research on this, to make the effort and to help us inform the public that whoever is saying this administration has done nothing is telling a lie.

Now, for the first time in the history of this country, you have a president who approached the electorate and said: ‘This is my contract with you, this is what I will do, I will focus on the following issues; job creation, inclusive growth, strengthening the education sector, providing infrastructure, ensuring transformation in many aspects of our life both local and in terms of our relationship with the rest of the world, change the look of government and provide purposeful leadership.’ And he has kept his promise on all of these goals.

This is the first administration in Nigeria in recent memory, the first president that would give the directive that his ministers one by one, should go and face the public, face the cabinet first, give an account of what they have been doing and go to the public and also give an account of what they have been doing. This is the government that has upheld the twin pillars of transparency and accountability in every regard.

We just had the gubernatorial election in Osun State. The PDP lost, the opposition won. President Jonathan immediately congratulated the winner. The same people who were complaining that there was too much security are the same people who are now turning around saying President Jonathan did well. They have seen that this is a president who is committed to the rule of law and who is committed to free and fair elections.

Free and fair election became a major refrain under President Jonathan. Before now, nobody in this country ever believed that elections could be free and fair because it was not the pattern for the ruling government at the centre to lose elections. But under President Jonathan, the PDP has lost elections in a number of states; in Anambra, Edo, in Ondo and now, in Osun. You must have lived in this country in those days when elections were determined on the basis of the readings of the preference of the president. But President Jonathan has not imposed anything on anybody. That, in itself, is a major achievement because this is one president who has gone out of his way to deliberately strengthen the democratic culture.

When you were in primary school, depending on how old you are, you probably learnt something about Nigerian Railway lines under Social Studies. Now, that disappeared for almost a whole generation because the railways were not working again. The Nigerian Railway Corporation collapsed. Schools stopped teaching pupils about rail transportation in Nigeria because there was nothing to teach. Under President Jonathan’s watch, the rail stations are back. There is a comprehensive plan to further link up the entire country. President Jonathan is designing a Railway Network that will take rail transportation in this country beyond Lord Lugard.

The trains are moving again and people board those trains and they give concrete evidence, testimonies. Many of the roads that had been abandoned in this country have been fixed. The power situation; some people still complain that maybe power supply is not yet at the level they want, but they all agree that it has improved because President Jonathan has made power sector revolution one of the major priorities of his administration.

The power sector privatisation process was mismanaged by previous administrations. Today, with President Jonathan in charge, it is now adjudged by international investors as one of the freest and the most transparent that they have ever seen, anywhere. There is evidence to that effect. You can research it. And are you still saying nothing has been done? It was under President Jonathan that the Nigerian economy became the largest economy in Africa and our economy that has not been rebased for 20 years was rebased. Foreign Direct Investment is going up, another record achievement in that regard.

In terms of international reputation, our international reputation continues to rise. President Jonathan has empowered women, he has empowered the youths, he is creating jobs. Every month, he is busy launching one legacy project after another. Because he is such a compulsive achiever, I suspect some people are jealous of him. If there are people who think that President Jonathan’s achievements are hurting their egos, they should just be truthful and say so.”

On no movement to end Boko Haram:
“It will not be right to say that there is no movement. What people must realise is that the fight against terror is an unconventional kind of war and it is also something that is unusual in our environment. Even in other countries where they have had cases of terrorism, it is not something that was resolved overnight. If you go to Mexico, Colombia, they are still battling with the threat after so many years.

It took America 10 years to be able to track down Osama bin Laden. And the thing to understand about the nature of terrorism is that you are dealing with agents of evil, people who have resolved to wage war against humanity and human civilisation and they do not wear any uniform.

They strike at will and their identity is, for the most part, hidden. One thing we must all know is that in spite of the special challenge it poses in our environment, our security agents have been able to quickly develop a capacity to be able to address the challenge. There may be questions, but all of those questions will be dealt with, because primarily, there is political will to deal with the challenge and that is what is most critical.

What President Jonathan has pointed out is that the war against terrorism may be a long drawn out war, but no matter how long it takes, whatever it takes, the government is determined to win the war because the government is not going to allow people who want to pull down the country, who want to destroy other people’s lives to prevail. That is what the president has said, and he means every word of it.”

On the opposition party calling Jonathan “clueless”: “I have had cause to respond to those people on many occasions. It is very obvious now that it is those people criticizing President Jonathan who are totally clueless. They have no idea whatsoever. You are beginning to see it now. The thing around their neck is beginning to play out. Some of their key spokespersons who used to criticize President Jonathan are now all rushing to come to the President’s party. They are in fact gate-crashing.

I mean, one of the key figures in the APC has declared for the PDP in his home state in Adamawa. And that is a man who was once famously quoted as saying that Nigeria under President Jonathan is a sinking ship. The same man is joining that ship because he has seen that the ship is not sinking at all and that the captain of the ship is a good captain who is providing quality leadership. He has seen the light and the light has set him free. That is the kind of illumination that has been happening to many of these persons. They suddenly see the light and they recant and I am very happy.

Even a former governor and a former Minister have also joined the PDP. These are people who used to criticize the ruling government, these are people who used to criticize President Jonathan but they keep seeing the light. We welcome such people.

So, the same people you are quoting, many of them are coming into the PDP. Many of them are joining President Jonathan. And I believe that as we move towards 2015, you will find more and more people like that. We don’t need to say anything anymore. The Lord Almighty is winning the battle for us.

These are the people who championed the various abuses and they are turning to our side now and supporting us. I mean, there was one person in the fold of APC who even said I was the child of a same-sex marriage just because I pointed out to him that his criticism of President Jonathan was unfair. Today, he is one of the leading defenders of President Jonathan. The thing speaks for itself, then.

They even now make my job easier because those people that I used to fight with, they are coming to our side one by one. We are waiting for Nasir el-Rufai, Lai Muhammed, Oby Ezekwesili, Dino Melaye, and the Jagaban (Bola Tinubu) and their Northern godfathers: may they all see the light, and may the light set them free. And that tells you something, that we have a president who is a true leader who in the fullness of time, you find his worst critics, becoming his strongest promoters. And that is our point; this whole thing should not be about ego, it is about doing the best in all circumstances for our country. Nigeria must and will prevail. We welcome everybody who is willing to be part of that national agenda of progress and transformation. “

For the full interview, click here


  1. TL;DR – vote for Jonathan in 2015

    • nomad

      August 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      as in. Same boring propaganda. If this is explosive, my toilet has seen stuff WAY more explosive.

  2. Luqman

    August 23, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Don’t be afraid Reuben, we will welcome you back to Ogun-State with open arms just like the way we welcomed Obasanjo back to his abode at Sango Ota. Baba is now enjoying the good work he did then, by turning his locality along Shilo to paradise.

  3. pearl

    August 23, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Abati shut up and sit down

  4. bruno

    August 23, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Reuben abati, its like you didn’t see the enugu airport that was filled to the brim with water.

    • Lois

      August 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

      And how was the Enugu and Imo airport before this administration? It looked worse than a dilapidated warehouse. The situation is not optimal but if you see things change positively, talk am!

  5. kelvin

    August 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Naija Politics is messed up

  6. Kay

    August 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I am going to insult you Ruben abati. You are a disgrace to your lineage. Stupid man who has been blinded by money. Your soul is so cheap, it can be bought so easily. So the masses are seeing the change and it’s only the opposition that is complaining? That means that 70% of the population are the opposition, because majority are not seeing any transformation. Lagos is growing, Fashola has no need to blow his trumpet. We can all see it . That is what growth is. Not some purported growth seen by 1% of the populace. Oloshi rada rada. Agbaya alai je obe ri. Yeye de smell. And yes I can say all this to your face. I wonder what your account will be on the last day.

    • Tinuke Iduati

      August 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

      you are just a fool and clueless like every critic of the government. You are unintelligent !!! cant you see the point in his discussion above?

  7. @edDREAMZ

    August 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Making sense interview and i must give it to him, this dude made jonah activities knwn to us and such things has never been done untill nw( when he took the position ) ……

  8. fleur

    August 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Reuben! I saw you August 3rd at the US capital city from a distance. I no talk to you or approach you so please dont rack ya brain about who I am. Let me say this to you. The loud voices you hear are the partisan voices because the people have no voice. That said, while Mr Pres is trying hard to get the people something, the something is stuck in formidable piplelines created by those loud complaining voices you hear. I think the democratic model we have embraced does not work for us. We are a command and control people culturally and power cannot be distributed through so much rank and file – defeats the purpose of power for and by the people. For those of you that want my head, until the breakdown of our cultural and social system, which of you offered that you wanted to study painting and your parents supported you 100% without argument? How many of you declared that you wanted to marry someone from a perceived lower social class and your parents applauded in support? How many of you had the guts to offer to drop out of school because you are feeling like doing something else? If you did, how many of you heard your parents say “Oh, my son, its your life, you have to find what works best for you. Follow your dreams?” That is what happens in societies that are not authoritarian. Who you are in your village and the microcosm of your kitchen is who you take outside of your home when you are in the larger society. Whether you like or not, your beliefs rule your decisions and influence how you subconsciously expect to be treated and communicated with, and also how you operate in society. Back to Reuben. We need to trim the bureaucratic setup significantly and eliminate the independence of governors. This is a suggestion that hurts me because it is contradicted by the visible fantastic achievements of Lagos State Governor. Maybe what can be done is to have governors earn their independence based on a well articulated road map of things they must have in place. Then there should be an “external to Nigeria”, “independent and unknown to the politicians” body that secretly documents the extent to which these governors achieve these milestones. I have digressed yet again, But for the rest of the country, having a governor and a local legislative branch has been the biggest curse from the pit of gehenna. This is why people speak about breathing easier in military regimes. Yes, yes, yes, I know there was Abacha, etc, and activists suffered. But for quite a few regimes, the people got their salaries, the civil service worked, we had good local roads, people were worried about getting fired so they tried to look like they were doing some shit, etc. I WILL and DO NOT SUPPORT military dictatorship but their command and control model merits examination to see how we can adapt this our so-called democracy. We are breeding potentially uncontrollable insecurity by not paying attention to the masses. As we have seen in the niger delta, and in Borno, once the severely economically deprived take up arms and taste power, i can go awry really fast, become enshrined in the agenda of people who care less about the people, and restoration of peace becomes a weird dream. Every economically deprived and hopeless person is a potential soldier waiting to be recruited by mad people. People who have nothing to lose can do battle day and night. Heck, fighting them is like facing mad men. They actually thirst for death. What else do they have to look forward to when there is no job, no hope and no certainties about tomorrow. I end my rant here bros. Una take am easy for up there.

    • Isu Ati Epo

      August 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Shut up my friend.The worst democracy is better than military dictatorship that you are bragging about.Did this government silence any of her critics?Through letter bombs,assassinations and the like??Go and sit down.No more military in Nigeria.Never again as we shall resist.

  9. del

    August 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I really amazes me how young Nigerians can be so quick to insult people older than them, wat has de man said to warrant personal insults, if u don’t agree wit his opinion say u disagree, u won’t even do better if u are given a sensitive position to handle wit ur low morals. Mr or miss Kay, hw are u any better than the people who u tink are setting the country back wen u don’t even have good moral upbringing. May God help this generation. Blogger should nt publish some insultive comments, let people knw some behaviours are nt allowed on their space.

  10. Lanre Curtiz

    August 24, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I am yet to see any black nation that is capable of self governance……Not surprising what we see in this part of the world….No principle, no ideology, it is all about personal interest…..I used to listen to Abati when Patito’s gang was on air, I thought he had a conscience, but i know what money and power can do…He is not doing any brilliant job, Even a mad man, when given a hoe, will work towards his side! So in what way is he better? I am sorry for the black race! I think evolution theory needs to be revisited…I am proud of who I am, but not a proud Nigerian…..I voted for Jonathan, and today I regret having to waste some minutes of my life voting for a man who has the opportunity of writing his name in gold, but now finds solace in hearing sycophants who because of poverty and mental deficiency will sing his high praises despite the reality on ground….In the world of today, Abati is talking about rebasing of the economy as if i is indicative of well being of Nigerians……Number one problem we have in Africa is knowledge…world economy has become a knowledge based one, and with our ignorance, we can only celebrate mediocrity and continue to be objects of manipulation from the political class…Anytime I see the media campaign by TAN for Jonathan, I weep for this nation….comparing Jonathan with some visionary leaders is nothing but total madness that occurs to me as hereditary!……Boko Haram is today attacking with armoured carriers, and yet our military can not detect their movements. If Abati’s daugther was among the kidnapped, will he be saying his master is the best Nigeria ever had?..As for the politicians without souls, I blame the Nigerian populace! If ordinary female anopheles could be terrorising us, where do we have the confidence and courage to confront the politicians? I will repeat, no black nation is capable of self governance! Look around and tell me one! Only if we are ready to have an absolute mental shift!

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