Today, I am subpoenaing my humble self to the court of public opinion. Such rigid, scrupulous, self-probing and creative scrutiny becomes necessary in order to clarify obfuscation and possibly gag the ad-hominem attacks and tortured ravings of some commentators. My heresy had been that I wrote an article on this platform titled, “Reuben Abati, Land Grab and Oath of Omerta”. Critics and false fans of Abati descended into infant frenzy and with awesome irony demonstrated such subliminal illiteracy that shocked me beyond words.
Before my analysis, I shout humbug at these critics who are out to deform the robustness of the lively engagement of our public space. I would never understand unless you are a donkey as to suggest that my writings are produced merely for impression. That ideal is to me a fundamentally unsound and illusory dream. Rather, I strive in my journalism to be damn rigorous, excellent, teach, entertain and challenge without any desire to acquire such dubious appellation, ‘to impress’.
Perhaps it is fitting in this hysterical, credit crunch-driven and unpredictable time for people to kvetch about a perfectly balanced, sound and logical observation of Abati’s land silence without the clammy, calumny that the piece in question harvested. Blind followers of Abati will become blinder when adulation turns him into a perfect hero without thinking of its fatal consequence.
What sweetly tickled and enraged me was the wholesome obfuscation and disgraceful public show of subliminal illiteracy by supposedly enlightened readers. Many morphed into rottweilers in readiness to tear polemical strips off one another in defence of their flawless hero who, in turn, has continued to shame them with his undignified silence.
I could have folded my arms and watch the enthronement of illiteracy on this platform, but such luxury will go against the ingrained tenets of enlightenment and right to reply. Patrick Okedinachi Utomi may have resigned his fate to a fatal silence rather than an ongoing engagement of his critics. No way! A seasoned wordsmith does not run when vicious war of words are being spilled recklessly and in which combatants have proved, beyond reasonable doubt, to be purveyors of distortion, bigotry and literary illiteracy.
Now back to my analysis. On my take on Abati’s right to appropriate all known blessings of Jehovah Jireh, I said in “Reuben Abati, Land Grab And Oath of Omerta”:“My own views on this resourceful, lanky and well lacquered creature who bestrides our discussion forum like a colossus is that he is as materially ambitious as any Nigerian can be. For the record, he has a right to be financially and materially ambitious. Also, if his financial essentialism is to reverse century of poverty trap, he has my support. Nigeria is a monstrous graveyard for the proletariat and as such most of us are closet oligarchs waiting for his day.”
Is there any obfuscation as to where I stand with his land acquisition in those lined statements? Moving on, I also said, “……it is equally banal for his detractors to be mad-eyed and apoplectic with rage over a mere piece of land. Pray if Abati got a loan from the bank to purchase a land, is that a crime?” Now hear this, “There is nothing bowel-shatteringly annoying about his right to acquire a piece of land in Abuja.”
And as a starry-eyed, exuberant supporter of Abati, I had this to say, “….but the appalling catastrophe would have been to see our hero end in the doghouse of poverty in defending a false, public persona.”
Further on, “I swear that Abati like many of us is part of a growing band of educated pragmatists who are willing to use awesome personal influence to amass material comfort ………” “In addition, Reuben Abati is a positive journalism brand name. It is a name that could unlock the door to any privilege in Nigeria. And if after over decades of public service to intelligent Nigerians, he now wishes to reap the privilege if his unique brand, why this general moan? Abati is indirectly teaching us Pragmatism 101! A compulsory course in how to survive in Nigeria”.
Intelligent readers re-reading this script would have discovered a clearly advertised support for Abati’s preparedness to plan for his future. Even in a flight of fancy, I suspended that writer’s natural scepticism by not engaging Abati in unnecessary intellectual lockdown of which Utomi is a famous victim. There is no esoteric, obfuscating semantics to cloud my intention in the piece in question. I am not known to be careless with words. I may have knocked his silence but on matter of his personal prosperity-land, cars, ship and houses- that is his prerogative as a citizen of Nigeria.
No doubt, there are still hunting, hounding and scorn for those who question Abati on his land acquisition and any opinion poll pundit would conclude that Abati still rides on a solid crest of unquestioning public love. However, I am still puzzled that the views of the disturbed could hold sway over those of the balanced.
Abati himself would have been alarmed by the subliminal illiteracy and ad hominem rebellion against my piece. In fact, friends and admirers chided me by text and emails that I burnished Abati’s image rather than punch hard to force him out from his dark cave of silence. That, in a nutshell, is the subtext of this piece. I can answer my critics and defend my literary corner with counter punch. For all his glorified adulation, Reuben Abati is still the cowardly gink who could not exercise this power for fear of being lynched limb by limb by implacable and unpredictable rottweilers waiting hungrily for the belated defence of his land debacle.
Comment: Did we all read the same piece? I find nothing in Tijani’s
well-crafted piece that vilifies Abati. Rather, he seems to allow Abati
the right to acquire landed property anywhere he wants. Unless my
understanding of English is warped, I came away from reading this piece
with the notion that if Abati acquired the land fraudulently, he is no
longer perched on that lofty stool of the incorruptible. But if he
acquired the land legitimately, then there is nothing about which we
should fuss. Where is the beef with Tijani here?
Abiodun Ladepo who wrote the comment above must be a grammarian. He understands English Language. Probably he went to CMS Grammar School like me. Up boys!
Warning: Please uphold the dignity of intellection by reading between the lines before you further extend the uncontrollable grip of subliminal illiteracy of some readers.