Reuben Abati, in his July 9 article in The Washington Times, justified his salary by attacking Karen Attiah’s satirical response to Jonathan’s The Washington Post article. I see that my political opponents are taking this writing business very serious. And so will I.
Let me explain what The Washington Post did. Barely days after publishing Jonathan’s PR piece, they published Attiah’s satire, totally rubbishing his article. Now, there is no worse way of truncating a man’s international hustle than that kind of thing. So, here’s what Reuben Abati did. He found another paper with a similar name, called The Washington Times. Maybe he thought Nigerians would not know the difference between The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Or maybe he didn’t want another Karen Attiah satire pouring sand-sand in his garri.
I just want to say that the Presidency chose the perfect city in America to do their PR. Because in Washington alone, apart from The Washington Post and The Washington Times, they have Washington Hispanic, Washington City Paper, Washington Blade, Washington Informer, Washington Business Journal, Washington Jewish Week, The Washington Diplomat, The Washington Sun, The Washington Afro American, and The Washington Examiner. They even have the Washingtonian Magazine. There is no way all these publications would have a Karen Attiah satirist waiting to puncture holes in their story.
So let us look at a few sentences from Abati’s article.
What is not fair, and which stands out in many of the criticisms directed at the Nigerian government, is the attempt to ignore the issues and argue that President Goodluck Jonathan is the problem. This attempt to turn the matter of the abducted girls into a referendum on the Jonathan administration has resulted in a complete misreading of the situation and much deliberate mischief fueled by ignorance and sponsored propaganda.
After reading especially the first few words, it is hard not to have the image of Abati in the middle of a school playground in shorts, stomping his feet and screaming ‘Eees nor fair!’ But then I think Reuben is right. It is not fair to blame a man who we voted in as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Nigerian Government for failing in his responsibility. It is not fair to demand answers from a man who occupies the highest office in the land and has access to all the nation’s resources. It is not fair to be upset when his army lies that they have rescued the abducted girls, when in fact they made no attempt to do so. It is not fair to be upset that no one gets punished when the government lies to us. Eees nor fair!
During the past four years, Mr. Jonathan has taken proactive steps to combat terrorism on our shores, including military, political and social actions.
Again, I agree with Mr. Abati. Let me take the liberty of listing a few proactive military, political and social actions that Jonathan has taken.
1) Military: claiming that they have rescued the girls when they had no idea where the girls were. Because even the Bible says ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue’. So claiming to have carried out an action is a natural, proactive first step in doing that action.
2) Political: claiming that the abduction was a hoax organised by the APC. Because one needs to be sure that one’s enemies are not involved before committing great military resources in a place as large as Sambisa Forest.
3) Social: enlisting the support of touts to attack Bring Back Our Girls campaigners. Because one needs to test the resolve of people claiming to fight for abducted girls. It’s a bit like a job interview. You can’t have people half-heartedly chanting ‘bring back our girls’.
Since 2011 … [t]hese efforts [by Nigerian security chiefs] yielded positive results, notably the decimation of the ranks of the Boko Haram and their restriction to the Sambisa Forest.
Indeed Boko Haram has been restricted only to the Sambisa Forest. Because the 12-hour long May 5 attack on Gamborou, administrative headquarters of Ngala Local Government in Borno State, leading to the death of 300 persons might just have been a figment of some nosy journalists’ imagination. I’m a journalist sometimes, I know my people. Even the frequent attacks on communities around Chibok and the bombing of a plaza in Abuja may be the work of a copycat. Boko Haram has been restricted to Sambisa Forest.
Boko Haram, the political opposition and a section of the local Nigerian media may have turned Jonathan-bashing into a tasteless and unpatriotic sport. It would be sad indeed if the international media were to allow itself to be led by the nose into that game.
This is such an important point to make. I wished I said it first. Jonathan-bashing must be done in good taste and cannot be turned into a sport. It must be done in the spirit of seriousness and patriotism. Anything short of this is tasteless and unpatriotic.
***I must my congratulate my soon-to-be predecessor on his wonderful new catch. He was able to attract Malam Shekarau, former book-burning Governor of Kano State, to the education ministry. In 2007, I remember the zeal with which Shekarau and his government publicly burned Hausa romance novels and subjected Hausa authors to a heavy-handed censorship board. We hope that he brings this book-burning zeal of his to the ailing educational sector. Because nothing purifies as perfectly as fire. (Trivia: Shekarau sometimes wears white socks. Just putting it out there)
PS: Please do me a favour. Join me in celebrating Shekarau, our new education minister. Burn this after reading.