Born on 7 November 1965 in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria, Reuben is married to Iyabo Abati who is a banker. He has four kids, James, Elizabeth, Daniel and Samuel.
He was a first class honours graduate of Theater Arts from the University of Calabar where he won the Vice-Chancellor's prize (among several other prizes) for the best overall graduating student in 1985. He completed his Ph.D at the University of Ibadan at the age of 24, within just two years, specialising in Dramatic Literature, Theory and Criticism. He later took to academics.
He also did a journalism programme as Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, United States between 1996 and 1997. And in 1997, he earned an LL.B (Hons) from the Lagos State University, Ojo. The training in theater Arts, journalism and law has immensely impacted on his writings.
Abati who was a university teacher between 1985 and 1996 found it very easy to transit from the academia to journalism because both as a student and lecturer, he was consistently contributing articles to virtually all the leading Nigerian newspapers. From 1989 to 1991, he was contributing editor, Hints and Channel, both Lagos based romance magazines. He also freelanced during the period for The Guardian, Daily Sketch, Democrat, Nigerian Tribune and Daily Times. Between 1994 and 1995, he was contributing editor, Hearts, a romance magazine which he assisted in setting up. For eight months he maintained two columns under a pseudonym.
But before Abati went into journalism on a full-time basis, he was having a promising career in the academia. He was a graduate assistant, Department of Theatre Arts, University of Benin, 1985-1986 where he served as a member of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. While pursuing higher degrees at the University of Ibadan between 1986 and 1990, he was a teaching assistant in the "Premier University." Immediately after the completion of his Ph.D in 1990, he was appointed Lecturer II at the Department of English, Ogun State University.
Presently, he is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He has won a number of awards including The Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year in 1998, The Diamond Award for Media Excellence for Informed Commentary in 1998, Fletcher Challenge Commonwealth Prize for Opinion Writing in 2000, and the Diamond Award for Media Excellence for Informed Commentary, 2000.