by Hauwa Gambo
For those expecting a ‘War of the Drs’ – Dr. Doyin Okupe and Dr. Reuben Abati are determined to disappoint you.
The senior special assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs engaging the public and the special adviser on (Media and) Publicity are two very different roles and have no implication on each other, they both said to journalists yesterday at the villa, following feverish speculation in the media that Dr. Abati is either on his way out or on the road to Siberia.
“From time to time, what you can only find is a unity of purpose between my good self and my younger brother here,” he said, gesturing to Dr. Abati beside him. “We are going to work together. Like he said, what we share is the passion for President Jonathan,” said the new SSA who said his relationship with Dr. Abati spans over 15 years.
“The special adviser (Abati) to the President remains the presidential spokesman. All official policies and statements emanating from the President are released through him. Anything that is official, which has to do with what the President has spoken, will be spoken of by Dr. Reuben Abati. My job is public affairs. Later this afternoon, Dr. Abati and the President will be travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, while they are away, issues become current, debates surface and somebody in Trinidad and Tobago cannot be the one at the same time engaging the public. So, my department which is not going to be in the Villa is to engage the public on issues that are current and of national importance.”
He will not be attacking anyone, however, he says, he will just be better explaining who Goodluck Jonathan is (which, as he wants us to keep in mind, is not Dr. Abati’s job).
“Somebody said Okupe has been hired as an attack dog, if President Jonathan hires a 60-year-old man as attack dog, then he is employing a weak attack dog. I am not an attack dog,” said Okupe, who was also senior special assistant on Media to Olusegun Obasanjo for two years. “My job basically is public advocacy. The opposition in Nigeria is a strong one; we must admit that, very boisterous. We need to engage the public; we need to engage opposition to deepen the understanding of the opposition on what government policies are.”
Like Pink before him, Jonathan is just misunderstood, he told those present. “One message I want you to leave here with is that Nigerians should give President Jonathan another look; take another look at this man called Goodluck Jonathan. Is he exactly what the opposition is saying? Nigerians should take another look,” he pleaded.
Abati added his two kobo: “I know there will be all kinds of interests who will like to give an impression that they are fighting in the Villa; that they are confused, that they have Reuben Abati, why do they need to have Dr. Okupe again. There is no conflict at all, we are working together as a team and you are not going to see any kind of friction. If anything, you are going to see us engaging the public with a lot of coherence. Dr. Okupe is joining our team with a lot of experience. He is a man that you all know very well. He is gifted with a lot of political savvy, very amiable, very highly-respected within the society.”
Yes, we believe both of you.
Would you also like to sell us the Onitsha Bridge while you’re at it?