My brother, Reuben Abati

My brother, Reuben Abati

Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:10 pm

Reuben Abati

Reuben Abati

By Bolanle Bolawole

“What is the problem with your brother?”
“He was arrested by the EFCC”

“I see! Was it in respect of the Dasuki arms money bazzar?”
“Nobody knows. We have not been told”

“That must be the reason. Any politician arrested these days have one thing or another to do with the ONSA”
“But he is not a politician; he is a journalist who was in government to perform a professional duty as spokesperson to the former president”

“In that wise, he was a politician. You cannot speak for a politician if you are not a politician yourself”
“In that sense, it will be difficult for professionals to work in any civilian administration”

“I agree. How much did they say they traced to your man – millions or billions?”
“I just told you we have not even been told his offence!”

“But I just also told you it must have to do with the ONSA! Can’t you see that everyone arrested these days have their hands in the ONSA pie one way or another?”
“Until they say so, I will not join in giving my brother media trial or mob lynching”

“I only wanted to know so I can imagine how to help you rally support for him”
“How do you mean?”

“If the money is big, then, it will be worth everyone’s while; but if it is peanuts, he is on his own”
“That is weird logic. You mean the greater the crime, the better the opportunity for escape?”

“Exactly! It translates to greater capacity to ‘settle’ everyone and still retire with the rest of the loot and live happily thereafter”
“So what is worth doing at all is worth doing well is what you are trying to say?”

“You are a fast learner and I like that. Try to figure out how much was involved before you weigh in on the side of your brother”
“Whatever and however, brothers must be brothers…”

“I don’t understand how you and Abati can be brothers: Are you not from Ondo and him from Ogun state?”
“Correct! But we are brothers all the same”

“My friend, say the truth; you have eaten from this man’s plate”
“Never! We never exchanged as much as a text message while he was in the corridors of power”

“No one will believe that”
“But that is the truth. We never spoke and we never met. Not one Naira is between me and that man”

“Then save your breath. Find something more worthwhile to do”
“Thank you but I will not; I consider his plight as being that of all of us”

“And who are the ‘us’ if I may ask?”
“Journalists, writers and critics like him. No journalist will be able to do their job of speaking for their principals if we do not take keen interest in what happens to this man”

“I see! It is a self-interest thing”
“More than that; the profession is a guild; we are members of the pen fraternity. Under no condition must any spokesperson be made to suffer for the legitimate performance of his duties”

“But not with the ONSA arms money”
“How would anyone know? The present spokespersons for Buhari, where do they know their budgets are coming from?”

“That is a serious one. As an architect, I never ask my clients where the funds they pay me come from”
“Besides, I have begun to miss Abati’s incisive commentaries”

“You don’t mean you still read that man?”
“Of course, I do! He is as incisive and gifted as ever”

“I parted ways with him after he started writing those annoying defence of Jonathan”
“I got pissed off, too, and after he returned to the media, I gave him the ignore, as the late lawyer to the late Fela, Kanmi Ishola-Oshobu, would say”

“You shouldn’t have returned to him; I don’t think he deserves it”
“I didn’t do it for him; I did it for me. If you love good writings and you don’t read Abati, you will be missing something”

“What will he be writing other than shamelessly defending Jonathan and his many shenanigans?”
“You miss the point! I, too, reasoned that way until I grudgingly read a piece he sent to my box”

“And you said you were not buddies…”
“Of course, email addresses are not trade secrets; moreover, we met at a meeting once or twice after he left office”

“I see! And you can vouch that the man can still be trusted as a conscientious writer?”
“For me, yes: I was surprised with the great efforts he has made to win back the confidence of his readers”

“You mean he has not been partisan?”
“As much as is humanly possible, he has tried to keep his head above the waters of partisanship”

“I never would have known that. I have pigeon-holed him where I thought he appropriately belonged”
“You may want to give him another try; that is, if the EFCC experience will not ruin him” “Has he been released?”

“Technically, yes; but as at the time of writing, he was yet to perfect his administrative bail conditions”
“Can you see what I mean? Big thieves don’t have issues meeting the most stringent of bail conditions; only small fishes wallow in shallow waters”

“His readers will miss him” “But rest assured he will come back richer in his prose and syntax after his EFCC ordeal!”
“When I think that the same ordeal ruined ex-PDP spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, I shudder. After tasting EFCC, he became jelly”

“Don’t mind that one; it has got more to do with his own personality than his EFCC experience”
“I agree; personal convictions have a lot to play on such issues. Men will always be men while boys will be boys”

“But I don’t like the way they are treating Femi Fani-Kayode at all. Why arrest a man in October when you knew you will only charge him in court in November?”
“It is abuse of power. They are leaving no one in doubt that they have an axe to grind with the man beyond any anti-corruption war”

“Can it be because he has refused to be silenced? The man continues to hit them hard”
“I don’t think he will settle with them soon…”

“And not they with him, especially after the EFCC bungled the attempt to get at him through his wife and son at Ado-Ekiti”
“That is true. The bungled effort was bad enough; but the man’s riposte that President Muhammadu Buhari should leave his family out of their tango and face him man-to-man completely blinded the whole matter”

“You are right. The enforcers of this regime will want to squeeze pepper into his eyes for that audacious statement”
“You called a civilian administration ‘regime’?”

“In actual fact, not much difference between the 1984\85 years and now”
“But for Gov. Ayodele Fayose, Fani-Kayode would have been in hotter soup by now. With his dearly beloved wife and son behind bars followed with his own incarceration, how would he have borne it?”

“How would any man have borne it, you mean to say?”
“It’s a tough one, no doubt; to think that some human minds could fathom out such a dastardly plot!”

“They go for special training; they go to such places as Israel and North Korea; when they return, they are more bestial than human”
“I see! So they can effortlessly ‘convince’ their victims to play ball?”

“They have a thousand and one ways of doing that. Have you read George Orwell’s ‘1984’?” “You mean “Animal Farm?”
“No, not ‘Animal Farm’, even though I will also recommend that one for your reading; ‘1984’ is about the “Big Brother”, which is euphemism for ruthless dictatorship, and his many tactics of controlling the actions and minds of the populace”

“That is serious! Controlling the thoughts of man is not possible” “Read ‘1984’; not only can a man’s thoughts be controlled, it can be seen and read like a book and it can be exorcised”
“By what means, if I may ask?”

“By many means; the ultimate goal is to control the minds and thoughts of the citizenry”
“Such will no longer be rational beings but zombies”

“Exactly! What Fela warned against decades ago in his song titled ‘Zombie’. When men who have been stripped of their own humanity lord it over others, they seek to reduce everyone to their own despicable status”
“You are beginning to get me frightened”

“You need not be; only have a sociological understanding of happenings around you”
“Can this Sociology of your explain why a former Minister has been singing in EFCC cells?”

“Again, read ‘1984’. The first thing a man does once he falls into the hands of agents of “Big Brother” is implicate everyone he is asked to implicate”
“Even if they were lies?”

“Were you not in this country when an officer implicated Obasanjo to his face that he plotted a coup?”
“Yes, I remember; it happened under Abacha”

“And what did the same officer do after the coast cleared?”
“He prostrated and begged for forgiveness from the same Obasanjo”

“Necessity is the…”
“…Mother of invention, as they say”

“But this time around, we shall say ‘mother of survival’. Survival first, other niceties later” “That is serious but I find it very hard to believe a man who reportedly shipped billions of Naira to others could not arrange a few million Naira for his own freedom”
“The tepid bail condition points to the fact that the goons were not really after the ex-Minister” “You amaze me with your sharp-wits when it comes to discussing the polity”

“You are dealing with politicians; so, don’t put anything pass them. Most often, the more you look, the less you see”
“I see. But the man nailed the coffin of Fayose…”

“Which coffin; and which Fayose: Someone received money from outside and spent part, if not all, of it on ‘stomach infrastructure’ for the people; others took money allegedly meant for salaries and pensions and spent on their own election; which of the two will the people salute as hero in the final analysis?”
“Oro p’esi je!”

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