The problem is focusing on Remi Tinubu’s tone instead of Elisha Abbo’s sins.

Senator Elisha Abbo , the Adamawa born freshman legislator with the fried hair, toned skin and youthful abrasiveness, has been in the news for the better part of a month for dishing out hot slaps to women in a sex toy shop in Abuja. 

Abbo’s assault of the women was played out for a shocked nation to take in, thanks to CCTV footage. A day after attempting to twist the story by playing victim, Abbo apologized for his sins on camera and shed a bucketful of tears for effect. 

I have been following the Abbo saga from my vacation spot, noting reactions from Nigerians and the political elite. I have also been left bemused that a section of the social media public would rather have issues with how Senator Remi Tinubu, a member of the adhoc committee set up by the senate president to investigate Abbo-gate, spoke to Abbo during one of their sittings.

Senator Remi Tinubu is a member of the adhoc committee hearing Abbo-gate (The Nation)
Senator Remi Tinubu is a member of the adhoc committee hearing Abbo-gate (The Nation)

Mrs. Tinubu has been called rude, condescending and derogatory for daring to ask Abbo to turn off his mic and for threatening him with suspension if he doesn’t behave himself during the hearing.

The problem with this narrative is this: in a society where women are told that they should rather be seen than heard, the sole lady in a committee is being told that she should have chosen her words carefully while addressing a self-confessed woman beater and an apparently deranged member of the political elite. We have succeeded in turning the narrative on its head while depriving Abbo of his much needed teachable moment.

Who else noticed how Abbo wagged his finger at Tinubu, how he flew into a rage and how he looked insulted that he was being addressed in that tone by a colleague who is also a woman?

In that short clip was Abbo personified—a man who loses his temper on a whim, one who hasn’t learnt his lessons and one who would still beat up or slap anyone who upsets him if left alone. In that clip, we realized that Abbo’s tears of July 3 were of the Crocodile variant. He was only playing out a script handed him by his advisers. He's still a man unhinged. A man to be avoided. A man you shouldn't be left alone in a room with.

One 'fake-tears' press conference does not a reformed man make.

It’s a good thing, however, that Abbo is now having to answer for his crimes in a courtroom. But who else was left disgusted by the sight of the young men who ran to the disgraced senator for selfie poses? I almost threw up when all of that played out on my smartphone. Our society sure has a lot to learn.

In the final analysis, the onus is on all of us to raise better men who would treat women with the respect they deserve and as co-equals in a society damaged by patriarchy. In a season that has been dominated by stories of rape allegations against pastors and every other man out there, Abbo’s irate riposte in that exchange with Senator Tinubu should be slammed by all good people of conscience and condemned in the strongest terms possible. 

Senator Elisha Abbo with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu  in Kaduna in April 2019 [Nigeria Police Force]
Senator Elisha Abbo with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu in Kaduna in April 2019 [Nigeria Police Force]

Commonsense says when you are on trial, you only speak when asked to and you do so with sobriety and contrition. You don’t raise your voice, you don’t fly into a rage when reprimanded. You take whatever is thrown at you and plead your innocence or guilt in the calmest manner possible. You don't decide which tone you should be addressed with or get offended if you are rudely spoken to by a lady.

The Abbo we saw during that senate committee hearing looks like he still has a few more slaps to dish out to anyone who crosses his path. And that, my friends, is the real worry. The scariest part of this whole episode.