A former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Nigeria’s immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, Reuben Abati, has spoken up about his experience in the Presidential Villa.
Speaking on Monday, September 28, 2015 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on the sideline of the 2015 annual lecture of the Ogun State Correspondents’ chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abati said journalists who become spokespersons for government officials often fail to realise that they are no longer journalists.
At the event themed ‘Media and Economic Renaissance,’ Abati availed that a number of State House correspondents complained that he would not pick their calls when they sought his reaction over certain issues, stressing that they forgot that he was a government spokesman and was not supposed to give scathing criticisms and personal conviction.
He said: “Once you are in government, you are no more a journalist. It’s just like a royal court, the king does not go out there, he sends someone to deliver his message to the people. You are an agent to a principal.
“The job of a government spokesman is delicate and sensitive. If you are a careless spokesperson, you will blow up a country. It is not everything that a hunter sees in the bush that he talks about.
“But my colleagues, the journalists, still wanted me to talk as Abati, the columnist or Abati as a panelist in Patito’s Gang. Loquacity is not an asset when you are a government spokesman.”
On the theme of the event, Abati said: “We must prioritise issues of economic diversification. We must be interested in economic policies, we must acquire the skills to interrogate and analyse economic policies and we must interrogate people at the helm of affairs so that we can be crusaders of good society.”
Abati went on to complain that one of Nigeria’s major problems was the fact that successive governments fail to continue sustainable projects initiated by their predecessors, as new administrations always seek to start everything afresh.
Speaking further he said the past administration of Dr. Jonathan introduced over 60 economic reforms which have been abandoned by the President Muhammadu Buhari, warning that such lack of continuity in economic policies would breed socio-political instability.