…Mr Abati and his co travellers should be held responsible for miseducating the public, raising a false alarm and creating apprehension amongst the people. For his own education, Mr Abati may need to come and take a walk in the streets of Warri and ask questions for him to understand why the advocacy for a change of name for certain areas is a creative solution to an age-long problem and a panacea for lasting peaceful coexistence.

The alluring power of the white cloth is imbeded in it’s incandescence. Once a white cloth falls into palm oil, or is stained by other substances, it loses that alluring power, glow and integrity of whiteness. There is an Urhobo adage that admonishes us to apply the same care and effort made in keeping a white cloth away from palm oil, to keeping palm oil away from a white cloth.

The Nigerian system is a graveyard of conscience. It’s landscape is littered with the bones of many estwhile consciences. It is practically impossible to have a stint in government and not come out with a stained conscience. Reuben Abati after government continues to present a different face from the one we knew before he went into government. Since his stint in government as spokesperson to President Goodluck Jonathan, Abati’s writings have lost the punch, verve and ring of integrity that made his earlier writings as a columnist and Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Guardian a must read. His writings now drip with partisanism, the lack of conscience, and attention to facts. Perhaps the only thing that still makes Abati’s  writings a compelling read is his mastery of the art of writing, burnished with the expert deployment of a sharp wit and humour delivered in delectable language. His writings are mostly now all beauty without substance.

Rueben Abati’s piece titled “The Brewing Crises in Warri” published on Tuesday, September 28 is a typical example of how low this once great conscience has fallen. I could hardly read pass the place where he said in that inglorious article that the word “Wado” in Urhobo means “gentleman”! Gentleman ko, gentlewoman ni! Someone should also please tell Mr Abati that there is nothing like “Mimi Waddo” in Urhobo language. By the way, the word is ‘Wado’ not ‘Waddo’.

Mr Abati also uncharacteristically misrepresented a crucial fact in his article by saying that the Wado “group’s message is simply that there is no such thing as an Olu of Warri but an Olu of Itsekiri and that the way to settle the matter this time around is to change the name of Warri to Waado City.” If Mr Abati had followed the Wado social advocacy…he would have seen that this is not so.

In his haste to do the bidding of his paymasters, this emergency expertise on Warri history did not even bother to research the correct meaning of the word ‘Wado’, which he claimed is about to cause crisis in Warri. I am sure that Mr Abati has a lot friends and colleagues who are Urhobo. He could simply have put a call across to anyone of them to ask what ‘Wado’ means in Urhobo and a little background history of Warri, and save himself the embarrassment of spewing ignorance and half-truths on a subject he knows little or nothing about. It is called balancing the story. Obviously, it would appear that Mr Abati was under some kind of deadline to publish, otherwise he would not have gone to town with this low piece that is not worthy of his craft and towering credentials as a journalist’s journalist.

Mr Abati also uncharacteristically misrepresented a crucial fact in his article by saying that the Wado “group’s message is simply that there is no such thing as an Olu of Warri but an Olu of Itsekiri and that the way to settle the matter this time around is to change the name of Warri to Waado City.” If Mr Abati had followed the Wado social advocacy, which he agrees is all over social media, with an unbiased mind, he would have seen that this is not so. What the movement is simply saying is that there is indeed an Olu of Warri and he rules over his Warri kingdom, and not over every part of Warri metropolis, as the world has been led to believe. That there are large areas of this same Warri metropolis inhabited by indigenous people, with their own government recognised kings that are of equal status to the Olu; with their own chieftaincy systems and methods of traditional administration. This people simply want to rename their own areas of the city, whose ownership are not in contention. They do not intend to rename every part of Warri city or kingdom or any part that belongs to the Olu and his people. They are simply saying: We don’t want to be called by our good neighbour’s father’s name. Call us Wado.

Rueben Abati’s recent interest in Warri affairs is also telling. During the heat of recent arguments preceding the installation of the present Olu of Warri, he co-anchored an Arise TV discussion programme on the then brewing controversy.  Unbiased observers of that programme would have noticed the questions he asked. The ones he conveniently failed to ask. The follow-up questions he asked. The ones begging to be asked, which he failed to ask, and the unequal time allotted the discussants, with and without interrupting questions.

Mr Abati also claimed to “have no dog in the fight” for Wado City. He does and he should tell us which dog it is, in this imaginary fight of his. He should thereafter be made to understand that there is no fight whatsoever over the matter. It is people like him and his paymasters who are imagining or “brewing crises” where there is none.

When Mr Emmanuel Efeni made it clear to him that he misrepresented facts in his article during the Morning Rise programme on Arise TV, Mr Abati tried to make light of his gaffe by saying to Mr Efeni: “So, you mean with your level of education in journalism you still have to go to the village?” He conveniently forgot that despite his high academic and journalism credentials, he, Abati, indeed went to “the village” first. As a matter of fact, he went to another person’s village whose history he knows nothing about or deliberately tried to misrepresent.

Mr Abati also claimed to “have no dog in the fight” for Wado City. He does and he should tell us which dog it is, in this imaginary fight of his. He should thereafter be made to understand that there is no fight whatsoever over the matter. It is people like him and his paymasters who are imagining or “brewing crises” where there is none. And should any crises arise therefrom, Mr Abati and his co travellers should be held responsible for miseducating the public, raising a false alarm and creating apprehension amongst the people. For his own education, Mr Abati may need to come and take a walk in the streets of Warri and ask questions for him to understand why the advocacy for a change of name for certain areas is a creative solution to an age-long problem and a panacea for lasting peaceful coexistence.

Austin Emaduku wrote from Ekete, Udu Local Government Area, Delta State. Email: canoways@yahoo.com. Follow @ austinemaduku.com.

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