In a recent one on one sit down with
Journalists, The Special Adviser to the
President on Media and Publicity, Reuben
has said that his trust in Jonathan’s abilities
is the reason he is serving under the
Talking with The Tribune, the spokesman
said that the administration after getting
Ribadu to switch to the party are now
waiting for likes of Oby Ezekwesili, Nasir El
Rufai, Dino Melaye, Bola Tinubu and their
‘Northern godfathers’ to also ‘see the light
and allow the light set them free’.
What is his perception of the pressure
people, particularly the overtly pro-
Jonathan groups, with television
commercials, radio jingles and newspaper
advertisements are putting on him to
contest? How does he see them?
President Jonathan is not under any
pressure. I think it will not be right to say
that the president is under pressure. The
people who are agitating that they want the
president are supporters of the president.
They are people who admire him. They are
people who are saying the president has
done very well and he deserves a second
term. They are people who are saying that
President Jonathan is the best man for the
job. They are free to express themselves.
There is freedom of association, freedom of
And if you look at the papers, APC
blackmailers have been falling over
themselves to discredit the Jonathan
I mean, there has been no campaign yet,
nobody has called out any campaign but the
APC is running negative advertorials on the
President almost on a daily basis. And yet
you have some other groups coming up and
saying ‘no, we will not allow you to tarnish
the image of our leader, we will not allow
you to distort the truth.’ You find all of that
on the pages of the newspapers.
It is a good development that there are
people who are saying they will not allow
anybody to pull down this administration or
discredit President Jonathan. They are also
Nigerians. They are stakeholders. They live in
this country. And they say when the APC
comes up with their negative information,
they will confront the APC and go to the
public with the facts and the figures.
Listen to their message. They are saying that
this is a President who has performed. This
is a president who is focused this is a
president who is the best man for the job
and on the basis of all of that, they say they
want the President to run for a second term.
And I think you cannot deny them their right
to also express their own opinion.
One of the most used words by the
opposition or people who don’t like
Jonathan is that he is “clueless.” Looking
back, from what you have said about the
president’s achievement, how do you
respond to that?
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
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
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.
Reuben Abati was born on November 7,
1965 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria and is
the present Special Adviser on Media and
Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan of
Nigeria. He is a former journalist and
chairman of the editorial board of the
Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian from
2001 to 2011.
In a recent one on one sit down with