Unmasking the Buried Psychology in the Abati and Momodu Public Fuss
I have no experience with these two popular men nor do I know them having recently returned home from the United States of America after about three decades.
But there is something remarkable that is happening between Dr. Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Communication, and Chief Dele Momodu, a ThisDay Newspaper Columnist and Publisher of a celebrity publication, the Ovation Magazine.
Their fight is right in front of the popular media, and an easier way for me to make my own contribution is through theoretical psychology.
On the surface, what we see are two men fighting over a man in the middle of authority, that man is the President of Nigeria—Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.
But the scuffle could be a form of quest to protect their respective feelings of unfinished business at a much more deeper level.
In their back and forth editorial and verbal exchange they focused on comparing each other in an intense manner with President Jonathan at the middle what is almost turning to an exchange of corrosive envy.
Here is Abati's own words about Momodu—“I started to worry when he suddenly decided he wanted to be President of Nigeria”. “…but frustration, anger, mischief, misinformation, partisanship, and expediency have been suggested”. “…Dele Momodu got only one vote at the polling booth in his ward, and that even his wife who followed him to the polling booth voted for someone else - Goodluck Jonathan, most probably”.
Here is Dele Momodu's own words about Abati—“…Remember Reuben”. “…Reuben I see today is a shadow, a pitiable sight, of the old Reuben. “Reuben's crass crudity in his response to my last article…was cruel to have brought my dear and innocent wife, Mobolaji, into the whitewash of his boss”. “ His friends are grumbling aloud that this is not the Reuben they used to know”. “I have been one of his sympathizers…”. “His employers are suspecting that he's worried for his battered reputation”. “They need not worry because our friend has crossed the Rubicon. He's at a point of no return”. “…why would Reuben ever drag my wife (a woman who had fed us all in our poverty-stricken days) in the mud? My wife and I voted in different Wards within the same school. Why won't a wife I married properly vote for me?...I would want Reuben to tell the world if indeed he and his two wives voted for President Jonathan”. “…this is what power does to otherwise sensible men? How would posterity remember Reuben? I guess: A man who voluntarily set fire to everything he ever wrote. Shame!”
Each of them as seemingly jealousies or rivals compared themselves in many ways that revealed elements of envy which is okay except that they seem to be using envy to tear the other down in their respective exchange and in public.
They engaged in this fight on the holy day of Eid-el-Maulud. Despite the fact that the President they are both using as a shield for their deep-seated needs has called on all of us to see this day as a time of peace or reconciliation in celebration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.
How can they respect the President's call, and why should they not be fighting in that none of us should ever underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy each other no matter when and where.
Like every masculine man, each of them inevitably reawakened and reminded each other of their power, and they did this by bringing their three wives into this battle.
Why will they not bring in the women whom society have told they do not have the unshakable power and optimism to speak as men since by nature, and by being feminine, they are afflicted with penis envy, that is they are metaphorically in desire of a penis, because of the power that it represents—as in the case of their husbands, two very power Nigerian men.
Right now, Abati and Momodu's wives wish they could personally and respectively speak for themselves, and defend themselves. Oh no, not when they are viewed as powerless and inferior to men.
This two men having tasted a sense of struggle in their past are wondering what is happening in recent times given that their current situations, and relationships have been dramatically altered due to changes in power dynamics. And what is left for each of them now is the use of emotions as in aggression, envy, jealousy and bitterness.
There was a time when this two competitors were jealous of each other but in a much more benign way as they saw their early struggles as motivating steps to what they are now—men of power, prestige and influence.
But not today. As the distribution of influence and power between these two men is no longer the same, as their powerful lives appears to be now about enviousness rather than more about fairness.
At this time none of them could boast of egalitarian envy, no, not when one seized the opportunity to be a part of the presidency and the other lost the opportunity to be in the presidency.
As such, and as long as there is political and social inequality between the two warriors investing their emotions directly and indirectly into this fight, is the only way right now. And they are now protecting their different public power through different emotional reactions, no matter who is hurt most.
In pursuit of position and power people, do or say things to protect their space, so these men are not alone.
But there is need to be careful as there are reactions that these men have shown which they wish was never made open in public especially those that friends and foes see as verbal and emotional lines of destructive envy.
What these men ought to understand is that in their attempts to hold on to their respective current temporal and generic power, no power remains forever. It is essential to understand that when it come to the psychology of power or envy, we sometimes perceive that one's influence over another is lost, and that could result to commonplace feelings like gloom, guilt, hurt, and envy. This appears to be the case of Reuben and Dele.
In case this level of pain, anger and hurt continues there may be need for psychological support and for a brotherly talk, all in an attempt to produce clear thinking and strengthen each other's will or power. And above all , both men should show close or distant efforts to actively help to solve our boiling national problems with Jonathan still in the middle of real power and position with both men watching him during his presidential period.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., is a Forensic/Clinical Psychologist and the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association (NPA), Abuja. [email protected] 08126909839
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