I AM REUBEN ABATI...........

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Jaiyeola Ajasa December 10, 2012 I AM REUBEN ABATI.............. TWICE I interviewed Ebenezer Ebino Babatope. The first time, I was a cub freelance reporter with The African Concord Magazine. He was a radical Democracy activist. The meeting took place in an old run down office somewhere in Bariga. The Government in Power was the Evil Genius Ibrahim Babangida. The topic for discussion was Democracy and the military dictator's agenda. Babatope, could not hide his disgust for the military. Convulsing with hysteria he must have used the words 'military junta' over a dozen times. Shouting to show his disdain for those in power. 'The people of Nigeria,' he said, 'must rise up, fight to free the country from the MILITARY JUNTA.' The second time I had the opportunity to talk to Babatope, was some years later. Sanni Abacha, was the Government in power. The Military Junta still had Nigeria by the jugular. And Babatope, now a wealthy man was the nation's minister for Aviation. When asked now about the military, the "radical" was now preaching patience and understanding. The people of Nigeria, he urged should give the Government a chance to execute its policies. Not one time did he use the words MILITARY JUNTA. Not one time did he shout. After Olatunji Dare, Reuben Abati was the reason why you will sooner or later read The Guardian. Dare was good but Abati, in my opinion was better. His criticism of those in power and of Government was bold and always on point. He gave us hope as he became our light at the end of the tunnel. That light got extinguished when our hero became one with the system. Like Babatope, Abati now preaches patience and perseverance as he smiles when he looks at his bank account. THIS IS NIGERIA. The truth is there is an Abati in all of us. We expected him not only to take the job but NOW to resign. Especially, after the joke the Goodluck Jonathan regime has become. Being a man of principle, Abati, we assumed he should be back at The Guardian, lambasting the Government. Writing things we want to read. In ways and words typical of him. But we will have to live forever with that nostalgia. Our hero has tasted the good life. The man now wipes his ass with toilet paper instead of rinsing it clean with water. The luxury of living at the Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel in Abuja is heaven compared to the motel in Ajamgbadi. Should Abati,resign today. I know a thousand and one Journalists that will kill to take his job. The Abati,in all of us is we do not realize how poor we are, until we get to a position of comfort. So when we get to the top of the ladder, we sing and stop shouting. In Nigeria, conscience and principle ALWAYS comes with a price tag. Why is it that our social advocates and civil right activist who clamor for change always get suck into the system? They fall in love with the Status-Quo they hate. While trying to escape the culture of poverty, we get entangled in the web of corruption. We find ourselves in a world of surrealism and caricature the oppressors we criticize. We now live out our fantasy and get addicted to vanities. Government critics, often over value their righteousness and underestimate how decadent and corrupt the system was, has become and will always be. The fact of the matter is that our impoverish background becomes unpalatable when juxtaposed with luxury. It is the opium we seek to fuel our corruption. In Nigeria, the Pope will lose his virginity. Selah. I AM REUBEN ABATI. For I have tasted luxury too. I now eat Eba with a fork and scoop Okra soup awkwardly with a spoon. Rinse my mouth with Listerine to get the 'nasty' taste out of my mouth. I have perfected the act of eating Dodo and Akara with chopsticks. I berate my children with Koboko when they speak in Yoruba. How dare they speak in that vulgar vernacular? Rather than the Ijebu dialect which I speak fluently, I choose to speak to childhood friends in adulterated American English. I have lied to people that I was born in Manhattan, New York, when it boldly states on my birth certificate: OLORUNSOGO, MUSHIN OLORISHA. 99.9% of the problem with Nigeria is not Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. It is that man or woman you see when you look into the mirror. We cannot see the truth when we are constantly running from the truth. WE ARE REUBEN ABATI....You must purge the evil from among you. Deuteronomy 17:7. ......That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, whereto the climber upward turns his face. But once he attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Look in the clouds, scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend.- William Shakespeare.

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