I’ve been looking askance at this opinion editorial fluff piece that former Presidential spokesman and editor of Guardian Nigeria Reuben Abati sent out, uncoerced to several news agencies earlier this week. He sent it out to coincide with the conclusion of Big Brother Nigeria 2017 where Efe, after playing a brilliant hand of poverty politics was crowned winner over the talented but volatile Bisola and the outwardly ‘wayward’ but very reserved TBoss. Nigerians had followed Big Brother Nigeria with a fervor that you probably only see at religious crusades and Football matches and by the end of the 3 months, 26 million votes (approximately 10% of the population) suggests that everyone had a bone in the fight. Apparently everyone includes former presidential aides.
Reuben Abati (and Reno Omokri) have after their tenures in government sustained their public personas by becoming very vocal on social and digital media. Reno has reinvented himself as a pastor and publishes ‘Reno’s Nuggets’ aping fellow social media pastors Sola Adio and Leke Alder and offering unsolicited, misogynistic hot takes on women’s bodies, marriages and life choices. He is not well liked. Abati on the other hand hasn’t quite settled on a brand and periodically puts out op-eds, when he can find time from antagonizing the new government and defending the old one. His new tirade is one of such op-eds.
Like Omokri, Adio and Alder, Abati subscribes to the misogyny of the benevolent kind, usually offered in the guise of ‘wisdom’ from an older man but often tainted with perverted observations and inaccurate pseudo science. When Abati decides to break down the happenings in the Big Brother House, he first dismisses it as ‘sinful’ and ‘carnal’, and it isn’t long before he zeroes in on TBoss, and begins to tear into her for not being docile and humble. He brands her a Jezebel and a Barracuda for ‘trying’ to deceive and seduce via our television screens.
Then he begins to talk about her body and genitalia. He discusses TBoss’s breasts in such lurid detail that you can practically imagine Abati at 2am after his wife has gone to bed replaying grainy videos from Instablog9ja, pausing and zooming in to see just how big TBoss’s nipple rings are. You can see him utterly titillated by glimpses of her buttocks, waiting with bated breath for shower hour. You can feel his outrage when TBoss turns away after Kemen assaulted her, he’d been expecting more, maybe a flash of genital hair. You can imagine him remembering all of this and boiling with rage as he writes his diatribe on her.
Oh but he doesn’t stop at TBoss, she isn’t the only high profile woman that Reuben Abati has been monitoring when he isn’t busy reliving his glory days. He apparently is Tiwa Savage’s personal trainer, doctor and nutritionist, and he tsk’s loudly at her in his op-ed, accusing her of letting ‘rolls of fat’ accumulate in her belly and love handles. How dare she? Doesn’t she know he likes his… err… patients… slim yet curvy? She is after all his ‘baby’. And of course there is this gem of a quote about Annie Idibia, who Abati feels utterly entitled to.
Tuface (thanks TuBaba but next time tell Annie to twerk for us- what was that!). In all, the power of television was well advertised.
This man once represented the President of the Republic of Nigeria, just two years ago. Th It is mind boggling to think that Reuben Abati, who publicly insults a musician and demands the man bring his wife on to the stage to ‘twerk’ for his entertainment drafted speeches for our former President, interpreted his words, represented him internationally. This same man who cannot see that women are not his property, and do not exist to entertain or seduce him. This man who does not understand boundaries or common decency. It is not a surprise that even we have been unable to get our government to advocate for basic rights for women, because if Abati is an indication of what the men who govern us really think of women…
We really have a long way to go.