Jega’s Comedy Over Plateau Media Aides


We read with incredible inertia and surprise what could be best perceived as dry jokes and comedies that were written by one of the nation’s ace columnists, Mallam Mahmud Jega, on the back page of ThisDay in his ‘View From The Gallery’ column that was published on Monday 18th March 2024, with the caption, ‘Assigning Mutfwang’s 204 Media Aides’. I refer to it as dry jokes because the 13-paragraph piece is riddled with funny content that would appropriately be passed as a relief therapy for relieving tension that has been the challenge confronting the nation today.

No doubt, Jega is a creative veteran and writer of history. But one had thought that the piece was just for dousing tension and making people laugh to relieve stress. However, the issue under discourse, the appointments of 204 media aides by the Plateau State Government, was the subject matter of Jega’s column that is widely read.  The columnist had alleged that a committee set up by the Plateau State Government to assign specific job descriptions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to the newly appointed 204 media aides to Governor Caleb Mutfwang, having exhausted all ideas, had approached him to assign duties to the newly appointed aides. Having worked through the night for two days, according to him, the committee had contacted him through a top government functionary and offered him a consultancy job to complete the assignment.

In his words, “A contract appointment letter, signed by a very senior Plateau State Government official, stated, Mr. Jega, we have no idea where to deploy these newly appointed media aides, we are confident that you will bring your decades-long experience in six media houses to bear by advising us on how and where to deploy these 204 media aides. You should submit your invoice for payment after completing the assignment”.

For Jega to jump into believing in an offer of a consultancy job without checking through with relevant officials of the state is reflective of desperation on his part, even when it seems clear he was dealing with dubious minds. Bringing such matter as the subject of his column is not only inscrutable but runs against the grain of every reasoning that is the bastion of media practice. Is it that those who nebulously hired Jega for the job refused to pay him and he, attempting to extract his pound of flesh, has resorted to the use of his column to ridicule and portray the Plateau State Government in bad light, and the most contemptuous manner? That a respected columnist of Jega’s standing would commit his column to discussing something that in the realm of fantasy, is quite unfortunate and disturbing. In times like this when creative thinking and counsel, strategic relations, and constructive engagements are needed for national progress and redress, a whole national discourse should not be centered on needless semantics.

Jega’s riddles, dry jokes and comedies as contained in his column were a low dropper and constituted a deliberate effort at ridiculing the high esteem of the Plateau State Government before the national and global community on a matter that is not on the table.  Without any form of equivocation, the Plateau State Government never set up any committee to assign job descriptions and KPIs to the recently appointed 204 media aides. No Plateau State Government official contacted Jega for any consultancy engagement to assign and train appointees under whatever guise.

Plateau State prides itself as home to one of the nation’s reputable media practitioners in print and broadcast media, with social media activists in abundance. No one would have contacted Jega to assign roles and train appointees when it was clear on the basis upon which they were appointed. The 10- month-old government of Barr. Mutfwang is not confused as Jega wants the public to think, neither is it in any fix as to what to do with its appointees.

Recognising communication as the livewire in which democracy thrives, the recent appointees are to serve as the basis for effective communication in order not to leave anyone behind in the new Plateau State which is the dream of Governor Mutfwang. The columnist needs to be reminded that this is not the first time a governor in Plateau State has appointed such numbers of media aides in the state.

A random comparative analysis of the Mutfwang-led Administration, with the immediate past APC government in Plateau State headed by Simon Bako Lalong, will suffice. The appointment of 204 communication agents is not a mistake in any way, just like other policies of the government that are impacting positively in the state. It is well-calculated and well-intended to fill in the gap in effective communication and information dissemination across the state.

It is on record that the Lalong administration appointed over 400 media aides, but with no focus on governance, as they were mostly social media guards who attacked anyone who raised issues against the government of the day. They had no time to get the people informed about what the government was doing, probably because they did not know what the government was doing as they were aware that the then government was doing little or nothing.

The need to appoint capable and competent youthful hands under this administration is to properly resurrect and redirect the focus of information dissemination to the people; something the data boys employed by the Lalong government could not give. The commitment by Governor Mutfwang to give opportunities to our vibrant and competent youths and encourage them to get involved in governance and prepare themselves for future leadership cannot be overstated. The previous administration could not achieve that because it had a different mindset.

Going through Jega’s column, one gets the impression that his write-up was a product of a third-party beer parlour gossip. Every decision or policy of the government is unique to each government. Any inquiry by anyone on the matter is best directed at those who should know and not those who speculate or assume. No doubt, Jega may have been interacting with speculators who have no business in the affairs of the present government. But at his level, he should know who is holding what position in Plateau State. The present Plateau Government, headed by Governor Mutfwang, comprises enlightened, intelligent, experienced, calm, organized, and focused minds, with full mental and physical energy that is above speculation and assumption.

Its popularity is attained not by speculations and assumptions, but by what is being done and what the people see on the ground, especially the beautiful performances that are changing the narratives of governance in Plateau State.

This time around, the scope and objectives are positively different. The new government is prepared for excellence in governance. The new administration neither has time to waste nor does it entertain frivolities amid urgent issues seeking attention. Governor Mutfwang’s ‘Time Is Now’ agenda is leaving no stone unturned on its readiness and willingness to perform. It came prepared to usher in the much-needed change in every sector of the state. Look at the new face of the city: is it the massive urban road rehabilitations, the decongestion of the city to make traffic flow easy, the improvement in the provision of portable drinking water, the provision of over 1, 000 hectares of land for additional food security, the unbelievable payment of forgotten pension debts from time immemorial, the efficient land administration system being put in place, etc?

A lot is being done and achieved within the shortest time by the Mutfwang administration and the beautiful stories of these feats need to be told and spread to all the nooks and cronies of the state. Feedback is also very important for the government to know what the people are saying and how the various policies are being implemented by those charged with those responsibilities. That informed Governor Mutfwang’s decision to appoint 204 aides for effective information dissemination to deepen participation in democracy.

These aides are expected to properly communicate the policies and programmes of the government to the public and correct wrong notions of misunderstandings and misrepresentations. The Plateau people appreciate the idea of getting youths engaged with such productive ventures which will not only keep them busy but also fruitfully occupied in developing essential thought patterns needed for a balanced and holistic comprehension, development, and understanding of transformational leadership.

Perhaps, Jega wants to apply for the training of these young people in the art and science of strategic communication skills, a field he is competently qualified for. We have no problem, but he should come through the right door. It is so funny that Jega would go on to raise matters and be in a monologue over an issue the Governor Mutfwang-led administration has a clear roadmap. How else can one describe it when he alleged that a faceless, unnamed top government official would sign a contract with him on the training of the newly appointed communicated change agents? Who is the top government official and where is the contract agreement? He needed to have published the agreement letter alongside his write-up for the people to see and for the governor and government to know the particular contract agreement.

By the way, whose responsibility is it to sign contractual agreements with anyone for the state? Both the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and his information counterpart are not aware of this strange consultancy job by Jega. No government official or office is aware of it. Which government official will ever enter into a contractual agreement with any person or entity on behalf of the government without the government knowing? It’s so ridiculous and funny that these issues are being raised openly when the author knows very well that they are not true. He should support his claims with documentary evidence. Perhaps it’s an attempt by some persons outside Plateau to dupe him, who knows?

In any case, even if there was a contractual agreement for such a deal, what is the import or objective of making it public before those who are not a party to it? Was it an attempt to blackmail the Plateau state government or to diminish the value of the laudable policy of getting more hands in communicating government policies to the people? It is our fervent belief that Jega is either playing pranks, pulling the legs of the Plateau state government, or merely embarking on a joke and taking it out of proportion. I am very sure he is expecting this rejoinder because such a complete falsehood can never be ignored, certainly not in a democratic setting where reckless, unintelligent, blind, and unimpressive falsehood feeds a large chunk of the opposition.

Jega’s piece as contained in his column is best confined to the dustbin of unimaginative fabled writers.

– Dr. Golu is the Special Adviser To Plateau State Governor On Strategic Communications

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply