Immediate past Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati, has accused many journalists in the country of failing to appreciate the delicate and sensitive nature of his job as spokesman for the ex-president.
Abati, who spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Monday, lamented that some reporters pestered him to react to certain national issues while he held sway as the former president’s spokesman.
He said this on the sidelines of the 2015 annual lecture of the Ogun State Correspondents’ Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists.
Abati, who delivered a lecture with the theme, ‘Media and Economic Renaissance’, said some journalists posted to State House in Abuja, did complain that he would not pick their calls whenever they wanted to get his reactions.
He noted that some of them failed to realize that he was a government’s spokesman and not a journalist at that point in time.
He said, “Once you are in government, you are no more a journalist. It’s just like a royal court; the king does not go out there, he sends someone to deliver his message to the people. You are an agent to a principal.
“The job of a government’s spokesman is delicate and sensitive. If you are a careless spokesperson, you will blow up a country. It is not everything that a hunter sees in the bush that he talks about”.
“But my colleagues, the journalists, still wanted me to talk as Abati, the columnist or Abati as a panelist in Patitos Gang. Loquacity is not an asset when you are a government’s spokesman”, he added.
On the lecture, Abati called on media owners and practitioners to be abreast of the economic policies of government, since such policies affected them and their organisations.
He said, “We must prioritise issues of economic diversification. We must be interested in economic policies; we must acquire the skills to interrogate and analyse economic policies and we must interrogate people at the helm of affairs so that we can be crusaders of a good society”.
The former presidential spokesman also urged journalists to ensure that they put political officeholders on their toes to implement viable economic policies for national development.
Abati, who is the former Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, noted that most of the past economic policies, put up by successive governments, failed due to lack of dedication and continuity on the part of public officeholders.
He specifically lamented the idea of a new administration wanting to start everything afresh even when the immediate past government had some viable projects/programmes that would put the country on the path of sustainable development.