By Joseph Edgar (Duke of Somolu)
For the first time in my social commenting life, I am confused. I do not know which side to take in this debate.
Dr. Reuben Abati was said to have called his colleagues albeit very junior colleague manner less because she kept shouting his first name while delivering a report.
He had started feeling a bit irritated when she kept shouting “Reuben” “Reuben” “Reuben” as a result of the delay in the link up and he had sarcastically sent a gentle signal of his irritation by saying, ‘ you seem to love that my name so much, like you were there during my naming’
But the young and obviously passionate reporter missed the veiled warning and kept shouting the beautiful name, which ended in the explosion that has gone viral.
Dr. Abati is a very senior colleague in this profession who has practiced at the highest levels. In fact even before his appointment as Presidential Spokesman his exploits in the industry had been heralded globally.
With a Doctorate degree and an intellectual so sharp and piercing it is no wonder that the erudite doctor has turned his new career in front of the cameras into a wonderfully engaging one.
I have engaged and interacted with Dr. Abati on so many fronts and I always come out from such encounters with a strong feeling of awe. His brilliance and much more importantly eloquence in delivery remains quite amazing.
So the ‘new’ world of broadcasting for Reuben was just a piece of cake and it is no wonder that his presence on live TV has captivated the nation.
In all these, Dr. Abati is a Yoruba man through and through and we all know how Yoruba do not joke with respect for the elderly.
So, all these ‘American’ type calling of first names that seems to be the norm in his new career may not sit down well with him.
For the Yoruba, calling of elders by their first names is a No No. Many have received very painful knocks on the head for such intransigence
So, for the young and obviously very brilliant cub reporter to be shouting “Reuben”, “Reuben” “Reuben” was certainly going to rankle the internationally rated journalist.
Maybe if the lady had just called him once and left it, just maybe we would not be in this firestorm but the continuous calling out of the name even irritated me watching let alone ‘agba’ Reuben who was already Chairman of Editorial Board of The Guardian long before her parents even met.
But then again, can Dr. Abati pick and choose in his new profession that he so much loves. I once watched him describe the many variants of breasts on live TV. It was so intellectually hilarious that it removed any kind of distaste. That is how brilliant Dr. Abati is.
Anyway, this kind of TV reporting is what we are all used to. Copying from international newsmen where we all learnt the whole thing from.
Scouring CNN, BBC and the rest hours after the firestorm, I didn’t see any reporter calling anybody with full title o or saying Sir or Ma as they sent in their reports from Ukraine
It was all, ‘Michael, Rosemary, Peter and the rest. So my thinking is that are we now going to pick and select as we push to rating ourselves internationally
Would Dr. Abati prefer we go against what seems to be an internationally accepted norm in live reporting by adding chieftaincy titles in reporting or kneeling down the way the Yoruba do or even prostration because we are sending back live feeds to an elderly Anchor?
This is my confusion because I understand Dr. Abati’s discomfort especially if his wife is watching. She may not understand why this ‘small girl’ would be shouting “Reuben”, “Rueben” and you know what comes with that terrain, hence the quick push for clarity from him.
But at the same time, the obviously well trained and super brilliant reporter would see nothing wrong in calling his name like that because her mentors in the industry both local and international all do that acceptably.
In the banks, it’s all Segun, Herbert, Aig, Tony all over and this I think was brought up to ensure inclusion, build cohesion and push for robust engagement.
My children call me ‘Joe.’ My madam thinks I am a fool. But when my daughter Chantal says,’ Joe, please don’t beat me because I want to go to my husband’s house with the record that my father never beats me’ shows that I may have achieved something with that strategy.
Not to say that I would not have achieved sane with her calling me ‘Agba’ Joe or Elder Edgar or father Edgar though
In all these the ultimate gainer is ARISE TV. This firestorm will once again throw it up as a must watch platform driving traffic and concomitant influence its way cementing its position as a well deserved market leader.
The Strategy team at Arise TV has worked wonders positioning it as an influential and credible platform in the markets and pushing such brilliance in delivery that it’s almost unbelievable that it’s a Nigerian brand.
The pulling in of such wonderful human capital like the aforesaid Dr. Abati and all other powerful talking heads like my brother Rufai Oseni and other such brilliant independents like Chike Ogeah only just serves to strengthen its pull.
The unpredictability that comes with this Reubengate will serve to ensure unintended engagement by the much-needed eyeballs because no one would want to miss the next unscripted ‘wahala’
Maybe this time Dr. Abati would storm out of the studio if the reporter does not go flat on the floor in respectable prostate before he gives his report on Buhari’s latest trip to London on a medical report.
It is this unpredictability that makes Arise TV a must watch for millions
So, Dr. Abati -Ma bi nu egbon mi. Na small pikin dey do am. Let’s keep the excitement
*Joseph Edgar (Duke of Somolu) is a columnist, banker and stage performance promoter