Twitter rant: Abati, Fani-Kayode in war of words

By IndepthAfrica
In Nigeria
Oct 7th, 2013
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Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati; and a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, over the weekend engaged each other in a war of words.

Fani-Kayode had, in an article which widely circulated online last week, described Jonathan as a “President without balls.” He alleged in the article that “Nigeria has become an abattoir of human flesh and blood under the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; and all those who support him (Jonathan) should bury their heads in shame.”

He added that the “greatest error, the worst tragedy and misfortune” that Nigerians ever made is the fact that “a meek lamb ended up taking a throne that was designed and prepared for a lion.”

A particular friend of Abati on Twitter, Femi Adeoya, had sought to know his (Abati’s) view on the article, which became a trending topic on the social media.

In a tweet to Abati, Adeoya asked, “Sir, Fani-Kayode did raise some issues about the President in the article. Can you explain and address a few of them?”

Abati, in his response, dismissed both the article and its writer and described Fani-Kayode as someone whose views should not be taken seriously.

“Femi Fani-Kayode is a commentator without sense,” Abati stated in a Twitter post.

But Fani-Kayode, who many regard as one of the most controversial Nigerians on social media, won’t let go without a fight. He responded almost immediately on the micro-blogging service, disparaging Abati as a “peasant.”

“Reuben Abati is a peasant without breeding,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

The bitter exchange of words by the duo has divided the ranks of Nigerians on social media. While some lauded Fani-Kayode for putting together the piece, which they described as well-researched, insightful and fact-laden, others scolded him for heating up the polity.

Supporters of Fani-Kayode argued that though he appeared largely confrontational and audacious, the issues raised in his article were, “sadly, true.”

A Twitter user, Godwin Adukwu, commended Fani-Kayode for his piece, praising him for being bold enough to always put the government of the day on check through his constant criticisms.

“Every king worth his salt must have the spirit of the lion and the warrior in him to a certain extent. Whether you are a king or a subject, courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Would someone please tell our President?” Adukwu wrote.

Some agreed that there were some issues in the article that demanded clarification from the Presidency. One Lanre Ankinwumi, in a tweet to Abati wrote, “What Fani-Kayode said is the thought of many Nigerians. Even the blind knows when he is hungry. Almost all units of the education sector, some in the health sector, the Corporate Affairs Commission, etc., are all on strike, and President Jonathan and his cohorts still think they are right? Boko Haram forces 1,000 teachers to flee, 50 schools burnt, 60 schools forced to close and we say Boko Haram is not winning.”

Justifying his support for Fani-Kayode over the article which stirred up a hornet’s nest, another Twitter user, Shina Abdulfatah, said Abati would have put pen to paper and write a scathing article of such magnitude if he hadn’t taken up an appointment in the Presidency.

Abdulfatah stated, “When people trade money for honour, we have a case of a man who was on the side of the truth before he got a job at Aso Rock. The rest is history. I’m sure if Abati hasn’t gotten any appointment by now, he would be at the forefront of people writing articles on Jonathan’s failures.

“Fani-Kayode’s article finished Jonathan and his cocoons. Jonathan doesn’t have balls indeed! Instead of Abati  to call his boss and advise him, he is subbing Fani-Kayode here on Twitter. Is that your job?”

 But, those who pitched their tent with Abati said he shouldn’t have dignified Fani-Kayode with a response, as doing so amounted to dignifying “nonsense.”

One of Abati’s social media admirers, Boatman Eldy, wrote on Twitter that Abati should not allow name-calling to be his forte, as such could have a dent on his credentials.

Commenting on Twitter, Eldy said, “Sir, I will appreciate it that you concentrate on important national assignments and leave that man described as Femi Fani-Kayode alone.

“It is only people who are sick in the head that see reason with what he (Fani-Kayode) says. Fani-Kayode should know for sure that Abati is above his standards. Fani-Kayode should tell us what he has actually accomplished in life rather than controversy?”

 A Facebook user, John Mathew-Edekin, accused Fani-Kayode of taking pride in bringing people down.

He wrote, “You (Fani-Kayode) will be more confused than he (Jonathan) appears if you are in his position. You seem to take pleasure in bringing people down for selfish purposes rather than engage in constructive criticism that can move the nation forward. It’s high time we started placing national interest before personal, ethnic, religious and political interest.”

Yet, some Nigerians on social media appear to be neither here nor there. Those who belonged to this category were of the opinion that the war of words between the two was needless.

They argued that adult conversations needed to be more productive, such that people of their social standing respond to issues with intelligence and mature clarification, especially on the social media space.

“See what governance has become! Jokes and foolishness in high places. How unfortunate!” Omolara Olusaiye lamented on Twitter.

Kunle Afolayan said, “To think we are still mourning the tragic plane crash and 71 murdered students, yet the best coming out of these men is emptiness, instead of setting a better example.

“You will rather fight in the mud shamelessly. You are visionless men. This Twitter fight showcases the exact state of mind of our leaders.”

Via Punch

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