The Hypocrisy Of Yesterday’s Men, By Reuben Abati

Reuben Abati
Reuben Abati

A loosely bound group of yesterday’s men and women seems to be on the offensive against the Jonathan administration. They pick issues with virtually every effort of the administration, pretending to do so in the public interest; positing that they alone, know it all.  Arrogantly, they claim to be better and smarter than everyone else in the current government. They are ever so censorious, contrarian and supercilious.

They have no original claim to their pretensions other than they were privileged to have been in the corridors of power once upon a time in their lives. They obviously got so engrossed with their own sense of importance they began to imagine themselves indispensable to Nigeria.  It is dangerous to have such a navel-gazing, narcissistic group inflict themselves with so much ferocity on an otherwise impressionable public. We are in reality dealing with a bunch of hypocrites.

With exceptions so few, they really don’t care about Nigeria as a sovereign but the political spoils that accrue from it.  And so they will stop at nothing to discredit those they think are not as deserving as they imagine themselves to be. President Jonathan has unfairly become the target of their pitiable frustrations.

Underneath their superfluous appearance, lies an unspoken class disdain directed at the person and office of a duly elected president of the country. It is a Nigerian problem, perhaps. In the same advanced societies which these same yesterday men and women often like to refer to, public service is seen and treated as a privilege. People are called upon to serve; they do so with humility and great commitment, and when it is all over, they move on to other things.

The quantity surveyor returns to his or her quantity surveying or some other decent work; the lawyer to his or her wig and gown; the university teacher to the classroom, glad to have been found worthy of national service. When and where necessary, as private citizens, they are entitled to use the benefit of this experience to contribute to national development, they speak up on matters of public importance not as a full-time job as is the case in Nigeria currently.

What then, is the problem with us? As part of our governance evolution, most people become public servants by accident, but they soon get so used to the glamour of office that they lose sight of their own ordinariness. They use the system to climb: to become media celebrities, to gain international attention and to morph into self-appointed guardians of the Nigerian estate. They mask self interest motives as public causes and manipulate the public’s desire for improvements in their daily struggles as opportunity for power grab.

They are perpetually hanging around, lobbying and hustling for undeserved privileges. They exploit ethnic and religious connections where they can or join political parties and run for political office. They even write books (I, me and myself books, packaged as cerebral stuff); if that still doesn’t work, they lobby newspaper houses for columns to write and they become apostolic pundits pontificating on matters ranging from the nebulous to the non-descript. Power blinds them to the reality that we are all in this together and we have a unique opportunity to do well for the taxpayers and hardworking electorate that provide every public official the privilege to serve.

Unsatisfied with the newspaper columns, they open social media accounts and pretend to be voices of wisdom seeking to cultivate an angry crowd which they feed continually with their own brand of negativity. They arrange to give lectures at high profile events where  they abuse the government of the day in order to gain attention and steal a few minutes in the sun; hoping to force an audience that may ‘open doors’ for them, back into the corridors of power. These characters are in different sizes and shapes: small, big; Godfathers, agents, proxies. The tactics of the big figures on this rung of opportunism may be slightly different.  They parade themselves as a Godfather or kingmaker or the better man who should have been king. They suffer of course, from messianic delusions.  The fact that they boast of some followership and the media often treats them as icons, makes their nuisance factor worse.  They and their protégés and proxies are united by one factor though: their hypocrisy.

It is in the larger interest of our country that the point be made that the government of the day welcomes criticism and political activism. This is an aspect of our emergent democracy that expands on the growing freedom of expression, thought and association but there is need for caution and vigilance, lest we get taken hostage by the architects of odious disinformation. Nigerians must not allow any group of individuals to hold this country to ransom and no one alone should appropriate the right to determine what is best for Nigeria. The accidental public servants who have turned that privilege into a life-long obsession and profession must be told to go get a life and find meaningful work to do.

Those who believe that no one else can run Nigeria without them must be told to stop hallucinating. The former Ministers, former Governors, former DGs, and all sorts who have been busy quoting mischievous figures, spreading cruel propaganda must be reminded that the Jonathan administration is in fact trying to clean up the mess that they created. They want to own the game when the ball is not in their possession. They want to be the referee when nobody has offered them a whistle. They seek to play God, forgetting that the case for God is not in the hands of man. One of the virtues of enlightenment is for persons to have a true perspective of their own location in the order of things. What they do not seem to realise or accept is that the political climate has changed.

When one of them was in charge of this same estate called Nigeria, he shut down the Port Harcourt airport and other airports for close to two years under the guise of renovation. The Port Harcourt airport was abandoned for so long it was overgrown with weeds after serving for months as a practice ground for motoring schools. It was reopened without any improvement and with so much money down the drain, and the pervasive suspicion that the reason it was shut down in the first place was to create a market for a new airline that had been allowed the monopoly use of the other airport in the city.

Under President Jonathan, airports across the country are being upgraded, rebuilt and modernized; in less than two years, the transformation is self-evident. Perhaps the greatest hypocrisy from our see-no-good commentators comes from the one who superintended over the near-collapse of the aviation sector who is now audacious enough to claim to be a social critic.

For the first time since 1999, the Nigerian Railway Corporation is up and running as a service organization. The rail lines have become functional from Lagos to Kano; Ewekoro to Minna, and very soon, from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Abuja to Kaduna and Lagos to Ibadan. They couldn’t do this in their time, now they are busy looking for money that is not missing with their teeth. When questions are asked, they claim they invented the ideas of due process and accountability. They once promised to solve the crisis of electricity supply in Nigeria. But what did they do? They managed to leave the country in darkness with less than 2,000 MW; abandoned independent power projects, mismanaged power stations, and uncompleted procurement processes. The mess was so bad their immediate successors had to declare an emergency in the power sector. It has taken President Jonathan to make the difference. Today, there is greater coherence in the management of the power sector with power supply in excess of 4, 200 MW; a better conceived power sector road map is running apace, and the administration is determined to make it better.

They complain about the state of the roads. Most of the contracts were actually awarded under their watch to the tune of billions! They talk about corruption, yet many of them have thick case files with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the courts and the police on corruption-related charges. One of them was even accused of having awarded choice plots of government land to himself, his wives, his companies and other relations when he was in charge of such allocations! Really, have we forgotten so soon?

These yesterday men and women certainly don’t seem to care very much about the Nigerian taxpayer who has had to bear the brunt of the many scandals this administration is exposing in its bid to clear out the Augean stable. They’d rather grandstand with the ex-General this, Chief that, Doctor this and ex-(dis)Honourable Minister who has no record of what he or she did with the funds the nation provided them to deliver results to protect our interest so that we don’t end up continuing to make the same wasteful mistakes.

It is enough to make you shudder at the thought of any of them being part of government with access to the public purse; but then we’ve already seen what some of them are capable of doing when in control of public money, authority and influence; and to that the people have spoken in unison – they have had enough. Nigerians are wiser and are now familiar with the trickery from these persons whose claim to fame and fortune was on the back of their public service.

Our point at the risk of overstating what is by now too obvious: We have too many yesterday men and women behaving too badly. We are dealing with a group of power-point technocrats who have mastered the rhetoric of public grandstanding: carefully crafted emotion-laden sound bites passed off as meaningful engagements. That is all there is to them, after many years of hanging around in relevant places and mingling in the right corridors, all made possible through the use/abuse of Nigeria. Our caveat to their audience is the same old line: let the buyer beware!

Reuben Abati is Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Goodluck Jonathan


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  • anonymous

    Mr reuben, u were once admired. Its unfortunate that this article of urs is antagonistic of the masses u once fought for. This administration’s efforts of which u are a part of haven’t been felt by us at all positively. We don’t need write ups from u, we want u to stand up for the truth like u once did, and urge the presidency to do us proud soonest, or u will be disgraced.

  • Blessyn

    All Abati thinks and cares about these days is his stomach. He’s by far richer now than he was two years ago, and so he doesn’t feel the hardship killing us under his master’s reign. Write what you can, we the masses know who our real friends are. You are a disgrace and monumental loss to my generation of Nigerians.

  • Blessyn

    I forgot to add that I once loved Reuben Abati but I now hate him more than I do homosexuals. I loved him for his Guardian column, where he spoke truth to power not minding whose ox is gored. But his hypocrisy and bootlicking these days is now more irritating than lesbians and homosexuals.

  • Joe Edwards

    good article. vintage Abati stuff. These yesterday’s men and women are really becoming a nuisance. They are simply opportunist

    • Like Mr. Abati himself, it is as if he is writing about his own self.

      Bloody traitor.

  • Alpacino

    Tell dem, known thieves like el-rufai, Dino melaye femi fani kayode etc. are now posturing as activist. I laugh.

  • wonder how easy it is for this man whose words rang bells in Patitos gang, “our leaders nascent replace themselves with their children, Nigeria has become a huge contract”. Abati you have committed a class suicide. Well soon you will be come a history, like your predecessor. Continue focking yourself. you are stinking hypocrite.

  • sani

    Where will Dr. Abati return to at the end of this job? SA to GEJ is temporary and in doing his job turned against those he represents,so we thought. Everything he is doing today goes contrary to the ideals he profess for decades.was this what he wanted all this years.Dr. Abati on a journey of no return as he will have no where to return to because he has lost those loyal followers in his quest to earn his pay.

  • Abati, the government you are painting white is so corrupt and inefficient. The worst hit area like jobs where available is been given out to the highest bidder and those who have connection. I finished school 9 years ago yet no job. The one I nearly got slipped through my finger still due to the corrupt nature of this govt. Let me tell you: neither you or the so called critic the govt is avast to is wanted by the people anymore. So GEJ and those of you who are hos sycophant together with some noise makers called activist should go and sit down. REVOLUTION IS ROAMING AROUND. We will take back what belongs to us.

  • dieloku

    “When one of them was in charge of this same estate called Nigeria, he shut down the Port Harcourt airport and other airports for close to two years under the guise of renovation. The Port Harcourt airport was abandoned for so long it was overgrown with weeds after serving for months as a practice ground for motoring schools. It was reopened without any improvement and with so much money down the drain” Mr Abati, what has your principal done to bring such action and many other like it to reckoning. You, your principal and your targets are same and similar ( iru kan kan ti nrugba kaun)

  • Jay4Jesus

    What Mr Ruben described above is d exact picture of him before he joined this administration. He was once a critics to the d govt, but painting GEJ administration now bcos that’s what he’s paid to do. Men forget quickly. We shall see what becomes of him when they eventually finish their term in office. I believe he too wil join “the Hypocrisy of Yesterday’s Men n Women”. God is watching all of u.

  • Philemon A.

    You guys should leave Abati alone. He is now in Rome and must speak and act like a Roman. Wait until he comes back to our side of the divide before you start hauling stones at him. Forget Patitos gang! Abati is now a Jonathanian.

  • diran


  • olumide

    All T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ people that Α̲̅я̩̥̊ε̲̣̣̣̥ attacking Abati ƒσя telling us T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ truth Α̲̅я̩̥̊ε̲̣̣̣̥ enemies δf Nig.

  • Bladesneedtoknow

    Good article Mr. Abati. I agree with the improvement in electricity and I love the return of the rail system. What you said about these hypocrites are so true. The thing is, that in no Way describes Oby Ezekwesili. She is not a regular Nigerian politician and she is out to do good. Having said that you were spot on on you description of all the others and their modus operandi. It somehow also feel like it describes you to an extent but overall, you have said it as it should. Please Advise government to bring all those you have evidence of their corrupt act to justice to complete the good work.

  • Ayotunde Esuola

    I have no doubt that Abati was on point in laden the facts bare before the public as they should.I share in the sentiments that the Nigerian electorate shld be awared..However Abati fail woefully to inform us why the bad men of yestday shld not be taken cerious,especially when all aspects of the populace standard of living is showing red all thru on Jonathan performance indicators..Abati is clearly coomitting same crimes he alleged the men of yestday for failin to give facts and figures on wht his pay master has done to better the life of Nigerians in the light of huge allocations accrued to it since inception..

  • Martinez

    Time will be up for you soon, Abati. You hypocritical lying son of Belial. We knew you before now. We wait to see what you will become in a few years. You had better learn from that shamefaced Okukpe who will lick butts to stay near power.

  • mj

    Yes Abati may have turned coat but he has said the truth as well.El-Rufai,Obi Ezekwesili and co.consulted goodnesss knows how much of our resources away.

  • Onu

    Guy Reuben, nobody disdains the person of our President as leadership comes from God if not only professors will be in leadership position. My concern with all of these issues is that it seems to me that u guys have no other job than to pick up fights for the President. U guys simply think that the President is urs only- no, he belongs to all Nigerians regardless of their position now or in the past. Therefore, u guys shouldn’t tear down the heavens simply because a Nigerian out of care for fatherland criticize one or many of Mr. President’s policy (ies) – it is a lawful discharge of a civic duty. Reuben, serve the nation, not the person occupying the office now. Eye service has been the major obstacle to national development and cohesion. If u use the time spent on writing this self-serving piece to advice Mr. President to look into the possibility of truth in the criticism, u would have done a service to this nation. This nation is bleeding to its knee and eventual death, when it happens, people like u will be the first to write books blaming the President for overlooking the dastardly massive corruption that enslaves many of our people. Kindly do have a change of heart and all of u should apologise to Dr. Obi Ezekwesili for she has done no wrong. After all, this is supposedly a free country where citizens can speak freely too. God bless Mr. President and give him the needed wisdom to steer the ship of our nation aright and judge all of u that ill advice him. God bless Nigeria. Have a lovely Sunday.

  • OKEY



  • Es3

    It may not sound good in the ears of plain Jonathan haters but the way to go about this is to confirm and verify every of the points raised by Abati on failures of the past office holders (as we all know these individuals Abati is making references to here), especially as it concerns those that are grandstanding today, to confirm correctness or otherwise before they crucify Abati?!

  • Alhassan

    Abarti, there’s no point kettle painting pot black. you have un mask your TRUE self…we now knows you better…..