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Atsar Terver
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Port Harcourt
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Jonathanís scorecard could only look elegant in the eyes of hangers-on like Abati who we now know has the privilege of sitting at the table with him. But it is insulting and immoral to rope in the ordinarily Nigerian who is faced with growing inflation, unemployment, poor power supply, poor roads and healthcare system in the fraudulent assessment.

 

Reuben Abati and the Presidentís Menu

Speculations that Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati may have been consigned to the background with the arrival of a new attack-dog Dr.Doyin Okupe to the Villa are becoming real and confirmed with the recent outburst from Abati himself which point to the fact that indeed the guy has been re-assigned to do menial jobs in the Presidentís Kitchen. I think Abati has been technically crippled and put under rehabilitation. I can imagine he spends quite some time in the dining section of the Presidential mansion like the crippled Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan who was rehabilitated by David in 2.Samuel 9:6-7.

 

Dr. Reuben Abati took up his gauntlet against the Social Media in an article in his erstwhile Newspaper, The Guardian on Sunday in which he Ďdebunkedí insinuations that Jonathan is a drunk and a glutton. He went to a ridiculous extent to list the items that frequent the Presidents menu as ĎFish pepper soup, Cassava bread, slices of yam, rice, boiled plantain, fruits and vegetablesí. Hear him: ĎWe are not allowed to touch alcohol. Alcohol is not served during official duties. Yes, when there is an international function, wine is served, but nobody gets drunk around here (Presidency). That will amount to an act of indisciplineí

Ordinarily, talk about the what the President eats or does not eat should be considered in the realm of his privacy and those indulging in its could be regarded as petty and lazy busybodies but when his Media spokesperson out of obvious boredom and the desperate struggle to be seen as still relevant in the scheme of things in the Presidents Media team, chooses to make the Presidents menu  a subject of national discourse, we the commentators should be spared the accusation of taking the President to the cleaners.

I shall return to Abatiís Presidential menu for the further down my article, but letís just clear this fallacy first. If listing these items in the Presidentís menu as Abati has done is intended to debunk the accusation of gluttony, then it failed woefully. Being a glutton has nothing to do with the type of food one eats. It has everything to do with the love for food and the quantity so consumed. Therefore Abati needs to do more homework while sitting at the Masterís table; he should count the number of slices of Cassava Bread the President eats at a sitting, same for Boiled Plantain and Yam and letís have the figures. This will help us determine if indeed the President is not a glutton.

Now talking about people not being drunk at official duties around the Villa is kindergarten mentality. We all know that most, if not 100% public and private establishments forbid intake of alcohol while at work. Why should he portray this non-alcohol policy as something unique and spectacular about Jonathan as a person? Most of the drinking that people do happens after Ďofficialí hours, so the question remains; what happens in the Villa after official functions?

It is silly for Reuben Abati to think that Nigerians donít know what they are saying when they accuse the President of spending billions on feeding. Right there in the 2012 budget, President Goodluck Jonathan budgeted 1 billion Naira as feeding allowance for himself and Vice-President Namadi Sambo. The breakdown of the details of the 2012 Appropriation Bill shows that a whopping N992.57m was budgeted for the President and Vice President's food and general catering services. Now that we know Abati has the special privilege of sitting at the table with the President, he should also tell us how much of Fish pepper soup, Cassava bread,  yam, rice, plantain, fruits and vegetables a billion Naira can buy.

From my unlearned analysis, a billion Naira a year translates into 2.7 Million Naira everyday! If we divide that equally between the President and his Vice, it means they each take home roughly 1.4 million Naira daily for food! So if all this money is going into the Presidentís menu, then he is a glutton whether he eats only Fish Pepper Soup and cassava bread! If on the other hand, not all the money is used for his feeding then that would amount to misappropriation; it portrays the President as a Ďcheatí who takes money from the national till for feeding but diverts it to something else. 

Now letís return to the Presidentís Menu for a moment. I find something very patriotic about the President in his choice of foods though. He chooses Fish and Plantain to identify with his roots. His father and he having been fishermen, not even Aso Rock with all the luxury can separate him from these roots. Eating Cassava Bread is also a very patriotic thing to do. Yes, that will boost cassava production.

I am all the more excited the President even eats yam!. Why? Yam is not produced in Otuoke where he grew up, but due to his national mindset, his desire for the unity of this country he eats yam produced in the parasitic North. So next time, Abati sits at the table with the President, he should remind him to show some humility to the peasant farmers in the North who produce yams to feed the nation. He should do this with the same patriotism that informed his decision to call on the Northern governors to show some humility to the Niger Delta Militants when they protested Asari Dakuboís reference to the North parasites!

It is funny that Abati hopes to be taken seriously with his bundle of contradictions. A president who doesnít wish for his assets to be declared publicly now declares his menu instead! What a huge joke!

Someone should tell Abati that Nigerians are more interested in knowing how the billions voted on security have been expended with no improvement in the security situation in the country rather than being told how Jonathan fasts all month during Ramadan and Lent or whether he joins in the Animists and Ogboni, cult rituals as well (since Nigeria is a multi-religious society, and so the President ought to identify with all religions and not just Christians and Muslims.). Nigerians need to know how the 2012 budget has been executed so far; We need to see thos promised he made in the wake of subsidy withdrawal and not his exercise and keep-fit regime, nor the colour of the coffee he drinks.

Getting more paranoid, Abati declared that Ďordinary Nigeriansí know and appreciate that ĎPresident Jonathan is doing his utmost to positively transform Nigeriaí. I hope by this, Abati is not excluding people like I from the Ďordinaryí class, because, I donít (and we are many who donít) appreciate what the President has done (and failed to do) so far in the saddle. I donít appreciate the so-called withdrawal of Oil Subsidy which turned out to be a big scam. I donít appreciate his failure to fight corruption, choosing rather to dine and whine with oil thieves. No sane Nigerian should be proud of the presidentís inability to stem insecurity in the country; rather he tells us that he is not in charge of security.

Jonathanís scorecard could only look elegant in the eyes of hangers-on like Abati who we now know has the privilege of sitting at the table with him. But it is insulting and immoral to rope in the ordinarily Nigerian who is faced with growing inflation, unemployment, poor power supply, poor roads and healthcare system in the fraudulent assessment.

 

 


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