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Friends host surprise party for Reuben Abati at 50
Dr Reuben Abati with Omolara, his wife at the birthday surprise party

Friends host surprise party for Reuben Abati at 50

Dr. Rueben Abati,  who served President Goodluck Ebbele Jonathan as Presidential Spokeman got the shock of his life yesterday, November 7, 2015 when a group of friends  in conjunction with his wife, Omolara hosted him to a surprise 50th party.

Held at Jevinik Hall, Isaac John Road, GRA, Ikeja Abati who was visibly shocked described organisers  of the party as “coup plotters” and was close to tears as he saw many friends  from way back.

Co-ordinated by Long-time friend, Kayode Ajala and wife, Linda, the party themed Ruby Rocks at 50″ was classy as it was colourful and the day was quite enjoyable.

Abati & wife with good friend Kayode Ajala expressing his shock

Dr. Abati & wife with good friend, Kayode Ajala as he was expressing shock

Femi Awoyemi, Michael Effiong, Akin Adelegan, Azuh Arinze, Dayo Asaju, Reuben Abati with Kayopde Ajala

Sir Gboyega Okegbenro Femi Awoyemi, Michael Effiong, Akin Adelegan, Azuh Arinze, Dayo Asaju, Reuben Abati with Kayopde Ajala, Kunle Rasheed and Mike Osagie

Niran Adedokun, Toni Kan with friends

Niran Adedokun, Toni Kan with friend (middle)

According to Abati (Who bagged a PhD at the age of 24),  he had woken up with the hope that he was going to have a quiet day but his wife, Omolara, would have none of it. “I had woken up and wore a pair of jeans and t-shirt and told my wife that I wanted to  relax, have a quiet day and just visit a few friends.

In his words “My wife told me she wanted take me out. Well, I did not  think much of it. I was still in my jeans. She asked me how I can be wearing jeans on a day like this I said this is what I want to wear, it is called colour blocking. She said she has  a suit for me to wear.I never suspected anything

“I told her I did not want to wear this particular suit. She said that is the one that will fit me, she asked if I had a bow tie. I said no, she produced this red bow tie and said she was ready for us to go for the dinner. Only for me to come in and find all of you here.

“I must say that I am really surprised and my heart is filled with joy. And look at the cake too, with law books and all that, thank you everyone. I am deeply touched”.

In his tribute, Childhood friend, Kayode Ajala said it was necessary to celebrate Rueben because contrary to the impression that he was abandoned when the celebrant went to the Presidency, they had actually remained best of friends.

“A couple of years back, I fell quite ill,  it was my friend who picked up the hospital. When my last child was born a few years back, Abati was there for my family.

“True, there has been a groundswell of resentment and condemnation against Rueben Abati since he took the appointment under President Jonathan. Many can simply not come to terms with the reality that a man who’d been seen as the voice of the masses could turn around to join the establishment.

“Reuben’s plight methinks stems from the resentment against the Jonathan government. How does one function as the Spokesman of such a president without receiving a backlash? I know there have cases of bootlickers, favour seekers, sycophants who have gone to Rueben to bad mouth me because they believe that is the most effective way to get favours from him. Such people have come to me too. It just can’t work. Rueben has never betrayed me and I don’t see that ever happening.”

In her tribute, Mrs. Omolara Abati said she could not have asked for a better husband. According to her, they met seven years ago in the course of work, when she had gone to his office to shoot her TV programme called “Greener Pastures”.

“Reuben is a typical Yoruba man who respects and values the Yoruba ideals of marriage and family. He practically lives for his children and would always go the extra length to provide and satisfy his immediate family.

“He is passionate about books and never stops acquiring knowledge. He is a very inquisitive person. And if you get into an argument with him make sure you can think on your feet and you are intellectually sound”

She also applauded his loyalty to friends, associates and causes and his  willingness to give people who err many chances to make amends.”I love this man. On behalf of our lovely kids. I wish you happy golden jubilee”

For Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Former Governor of Ogun State, Dr. Abati is a pride to Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general.  And for Ekerete Udoh, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Abati is a shining example for the youths of today.

Recalling their first meeting, Udoh said  “I remember him walking through the door, exuding infectious aroma of confidence and humility that was at the same time deeply endearing. He was an Academic in every definitional layer, yet he didn’t wear his intellectual flourishes like some badge of honour. He was young almost-boyish in his looks that belied his less than 25 years sojourn on our dear planet earth

“At that age while most of his age mates were still probably in their 300 level of course work or still waiting for the almighty JAMB to put their feet in the door of intellectual pursuits, he had already earned a PhD and had years in his kitty as Graduate Assistant.

“Abati’s presence in our newsroom added a lot of intellectual depth and he wrote several columns that in a short time won him thousands of readers and made him a key member of the editorial team”

For Dr. Dele Dahunsi, Senior Lecturer, University of Ibadan “Half a century is a long time in the life of any human being, especially with life expectancy put at 54. Rueben is a loyal friend whose word you can take to the bank. His greatest weakness is that he can hardly tell a lie. he tells it as it is without minding whose oc is gored. He can be blunt to a fault”

His Royal Majesty Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, Aka-Osu, Eselu of Iselu, Yewa, Ogun State, who was present at the party poured royal blessing on the celebrant.

“My offering to Rueben as we celebrate his golden age is that should he have an opportunity to hold a prestigious position again, he should not forget some of those he met on his way up”.

Brand & Public Communications Consultant, Gboyega Okegbenro   considers Dr. Abati a friend and brother of over 25 years. “Dokta as my wife and I fondly call him has been my friend and brother of over 25 years or thereabouts that he relocated to Lagos and naturally joined our circle of young, restless reporters and editors  in the Lagos Media Circuit.

“Over the years the bonding waxed stronger and stronger; extending to our families and inner circles of friends at home and overseas”

David Babarinsa, who along with wife, Tolu sent a tribute wrote “Growing up with you in Abeokuta was fun. The banters between your secondary schoiol, “Lisabi  Ewa” students and my “Abeograms” colleagues was heavy but innocent. You created a niche for yourself in the State Secondary Schools’ Debating Circuit. I also remember your days in UNICAL. I used to make the trip from Uyo to Calabar to see your performances in the University Theatre Group. Those were the days….You never lost your camaraderie with the people you grew up with”

Famous journalist, Femi Akintunde-Johnson who has known Dr. Abati from his Secondary School days stated “He was the biggest boy in class not the finest nor the most charming. He was by far the brightest.

Reuben “Ogo” was my classmate at Lisabi Grammar School, Idi Aba Abeokuta bwetween 1976-1981. Being a “Senior citizen”, I found him insufferably competent in jotting down names of prolific noise makers and general mayhem devotees

“In his baggy shorts and mocking threats, he didn’t know how to write your name down and keep it secret. He would somehow find reason to stylishly prepare you for the inevitable strokes of the cane. He was at his most voluble when the punishing spirit was the one-man weapon of mass destruction, Chief Sesan Soluade (Who later became Deputy Governor of Ogun State).

“Few of us Lagos boys made careful plans to get him into the hostels away from the doting eyes of teachers…and dish him a hefty portion of lashing and beating. Apparently, he was not only a brilliant student , he was  street  smart. ….The boy did not step 100 metres near the hostels”.

“As much as I can recollect, Reuben Abati was not only our Class Captain all through the forms, he also ended up as the Head Boy.”

Writer/ PR Executive Tony Kan wrote: Dr. Reuben Abati has been my referee on all jobs I have applied for since I left Hints Magazine. I met Doc 23 years ago through my friend, Ralph Bruce. In time, my relationship with Dr Abati grew closer as he took active interest in my writing and thus became a mentor and big brother and referee. I still have a framed copy of the congratulatory letter he wrote to me when I came 3rd at the MUSON Poetry Prize. Gestures such as that meant a lot to a young writer.

“As a human being ,Dr. Abati has his faults but on the occasion of his 50th birthday, one must focus on the positive and wish him a happy birthday and fifty more years of mentoring and grooming and writing.

Pubblisher/Editor in-Chief of Yes Magazine, Azuh Arinze describes Abati as one of the most gifted writers that he knows. “His column in The Guardian Newspapers was a must-read every Friday . Listening to him also on Patitios’s Gang was always a delight.

“But I think the Clincher was serving with him as Members of The Niteshift Coliseum Resource Team as Constituted by Mr. Ken Calebs Olumese aka The Guvnor. His recap of all that transpired at the end of every Grand House Reception event to the minutest detail was one of the best and unique things about the GHR. You can’t listen to Abati without being dazzled and dazed by his brilliance, eloquence and simplicity”

Chris Nwandu, Celebrity blogger and owner of CKNNigeria  describes Dr. Abati as a doyen of the media industry in Nigeria, an intellectual with unprecedented capacity who has carved a niche for himself as a social critic and a remarkable voice of the oppressed. He is a pride to those of us his friends”

It was not all speeches though, the evening had loads of champagne, fine cognacs and of course good music and comedy. In addition, the Comperes: Top broadcaster, Mrs. Toun Aderele and Damola Awosika steered the event expertly till it reached a crescendo and guests hit the dance floor, rollicking till late into the night.

Friends who came included Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Hon. Commissioner of Information & Strategy, Lagos State, Mr. Tunji Olugbodi,  Mr. Kayode Akintemi, Mr. Michael Effiong, Mr. Akin Adelegan, Mr. Dayo Asaju, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Ayo Ali-Balogun, Toyosi of Rise Networks and her husband, Ogunsuji, Femi Akintunde-Johnson and wife,  Eddy Jay Omodiagbe and Azuh Arinze.

 

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