Renowned journalist who sought to become deputy gov, sang to EFCC

Whenever one checks the trend table on Twitter or discussion groups on Facebook on Mondays to Fridays, one name that is consciously present is Reuben Abati. The continuous appearance of his name on social media platforms during the weekdays shows how not just how popular, but also how influential he is in the Nigerian media space.

His commentaries on various issues of public interest are known to provoke or stimulate conversations among the high and mighty, as well as within the ordinary masses. But his life is more than just providing political commentaries that may appease or infuriate the political class in Nigeria.

So, who is Reuben Abati, the thespian-turned-journalist who dipped his hand into politics and had a date with one of the most feared law enforcement agencies in Nigeria?

Reuben Abati biography 

Reuben Adeleye Abati was born on November 7, 1965, in Abeokuta, the current capital of Ogun State.

In 1985, Abati received his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Calabar. At his graduation ceremony, he was presented with the Vice Chancellor’s Prize for the Student with the Best Overall Academic Performance. He later enrolled at the University of Ibadan as a University Scholar

He received his PhD in Theatre Arts, with a focus on Dramatic Literature, Theory, and Criticism, from the University of Ibadan in 1990. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Lagos State University in Lagos (1999), a professional training certificate in journalism from the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland in College Park, United States (1997), and a certificate in management and leadership from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom (2015).

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Reuben Abati speaking on a topic

Abati began his career as a university lecturer, teaching students of the Olabisi Onabajo University, Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State, courses in Dramaturgy, Theory and Criticism, Special Author Studies, and the Sociology of Literature.

In 1985, the trained thespian and dramaturgist made a switch in his career as he moved to the media, writing numerous columns on various issues of public interest, both local and international, which have been syndicated in various newspapers in the country till today. He served as Chairman of the Editorial Board and Editorial Page Editor of The Guardian Newspapers for more than 10 years. He also worked as a contributing editor and editor for a variety of magazines in the mainstream media and lifestyle magazines. In addition, his academic articles have been published in academic journals and local and international periodicals.

The journalist’s professional interest also spans into the broadcast media as he co-hosted Patito’s Gang, a television discussion program created by Professor Pat Utomi, from 2000 to 2011. He served on the Board of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and the Governing Council of Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, between 2003 and 2007, as well as on the Board of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (2007-2011).

Abati returned to journalism after serving in the Jonathan administration, contributing his usual two columns to The Guardian (Fridays and Sundays). He is currently the co-anchor of The Morning Show, a three-hour breakfast programme on Arise TV, a pay television channel and a member of ThisDay Editorial Board. He also writes a Tuesday column entitled: TuesdayWithReubenAbati.

Numerous awards have been given to Abati for journalistic excellence. He has won Hadj Alade Odunewu/Diamond Award for Media Excellence Prize for Informed Commentary four times, the Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year (1998), the Fletcher Challenge Commonwealth Prize for Opinion Writing (2000), the Freedom Peace Prize for Journalism (2010), and The Red Media Africa Living Legends Industry Award (2015).

Abati belongs to the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and the Nigerian Institute of Management. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, a Fellow of the 21st Century Trust, a Fellow of The Nigeria Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. 

Appointment as presidential spokesperson 

Goodluck Johnathan/Reuben Abati

Abati served as the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity and the official spokesperson of President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2015. In his role, oversaw the President’s media office, media relations, and the Presidency’s public communications team.

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Entry into politics

Abati was selected as the Ogun state Deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election. He was the running mate to Buruji Kashamu (now late), who was the PDP governorship candidate for the state.

The PDP, however, lost the election to Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC).


Abati was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in October 2016. 

In a statement on its official Facebook page, the commission said that it had invited Abati to its Abuja office to discuss his alleged involvement in the mishandling of the country’s funds under former President Goodluck Jonathan. The anti-graft agency claimed that the former presidential spokesperson had received N50 million from the embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. However, he was granted administrative bail by the EFCC a few days after and he was not charged.

The Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum (NDYLF) criticised Abati on August 2, 2022, for his remarks on his Arise TV programme that PDP leaders in the state were tolerating the alleged abuses perpetrated by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. According to the organisation, Abati’s outburst of describing the party leaders as “hungry individuals who allowed Wike to take over the party” is an obvious attempt to belittle and discredit Governor Wike and the PDP leaders by calling them 

Reuben Abati net worth 

Abati is estimated to have a net worth of $300,000-$500,000


Reuben abati and family

Abati is married to Iyabo Abati. The marriage is blessed with children.

Reuben Abati blog

He runs a blog called reubenabati.com.ng.

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