Mahmud Jega: Calling Column in Vain

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By Ukandi Odey

I waited in vain yesterday as I expected what appeared to be a lurking and looming scandal with the huge potential to rock the government of Barrister Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State to bust in Jega’s Monday column.

In his last week Monday column, Jega stirred old hostilities when he shrewdly betrayed his client by turning a business brief into the stuff for ‘column’ writing. In the write up which Jega’s fans celebrate as a “satire”, he claimed that “a committee set up by the Plateau State, Jos to assign specific job descriptions and key performance indicators (KPIs) to the 204 newly appointed media aides to Governor Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang worked through the night on Saturday but was unable to finish the assignment”.

Thus, he claimed further, “on Sunday morning, it commissioned me as a consultant to complete the task”. Certainly, the ‘column’ was about the latest exemplar of hate speech; a scurrilous essay which understandably was in bad taste for the government and people of Plateau State.

Predictably, a few days thereafter, Governor Caleb Mutfwang’s adviser on strategic communication, Timothy Golu, was out to acquit the State Government, put some challenges to Jega to prove his claim with all essential material particulars, or keep quiet as a barefaced liar and shameless grandstander. This has not only cast a slur on the credibility of the ‘columnist’ and his column, but has strained and depleted the integrity and authoritativeness of the column to dire limits.

In his reply to Jega, Golu denied that the Plateau State government ever set up any such committee to assign job descriptions and KPIs to the 204 media aides, and declared unambiguously that “no Plateau State government official contacted Jega for any consultancy engagement to assign and train appointees under whatever guise”. Golu went ahead to ask Jega “who is the top government official and where is the contract agreement?” Jega was also challenged to publish the agreement letter alongside his column.

This piece is certainly not intended to extend Golu’s officialese, but mainly raising some professional and ethical concerns. Many of us thought and hoped that the judgment day would be yesterday in the same ‘column’ where Jega launched the offensive. But it’s like the show was on without the usual gallery! The question now is did Mahmud Jega use his ‘column’ to bandy lies and wilfully grandstand and portray Plateau State in doleful light? But in the same ‘column’ piece, Jega had claimed that “attached to the contract letter was a copy of the announcement made at the weekend….” What is the challenge that Jega cannot mention the “top government official” or produce the agreement letter to redeem his professional image and remedy what is turning out to be obvious case of abuse of column writing?

To me, Jega’s inability (or delay?) in providing proofs of his claims only add verve to why the said write-up suffered a wandering theme, and wobbled through so much illogicality just to reach a preconceived and premeditated conclusion. As a “consultant”, who asked Jega for a qualitative distinction between “the time is now” and the “the time is past” which is unarguably a sentimental creation of his own parochial stereotyping and diatribe?

“Even Jos’ famous cool weather has warmed up now” is another summation in the Jega ‘column’ that is laughable and fallacious but goes a long way to confirm Jega’s confession that his knowledge of Plateau is poor, since he visited for the first time thirty six years ago, and for the second time “only recently”. But, this, too, is one misleading lie that a column should neither afford nor tell. If the weather in Plateau had changed, the range of agricultural produce from the State would have disappeared too; and the aggressor land grabbers stalking the land would have since disembarked.

Column writing is more about good principle than pettiness. Of what need was it for Jega to suppose

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