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The Lies They Tell Against Ortom

By Nathaniel Ikyur




On March 22, 2021, Mahmud Jega took on the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, not sparing him in any way. The former Deputy Editor in Chief of Daily Trust joined others to doubt the governor on the herdsmen attack on his farm in Makurdi, the Benue State capital. He went further to make mockery of the entire incident.

For about two decades plus that Jega worked at Daily Trust newspapers, he used his back page column to maintain some level of dignity. He came across as one, whose judgements on topical national issues in the country could be trusted.

His weekly ‘sermons’ on politics and governance in Nigeria were admired. And he began to put on the semblance of a shinning lettered brain, at least in the northern states. Infact, he didn’t openly display any partisanship, or maybe it didn’t catch our attention. But that’s not my worry here. We all know that every human being is a political animal.

In his twelve paragraph diatribe against Governor Samuel Ortom, Mahmud displayed, not only gross ignorance but showed that he’s been bitten by the ethnic and religious bug to the point of not knowing how to weigh in on issues with the right deconstructive mindset.

If not so, how can he turn logic on its head by falsifying information against Governor Ortom just so as to paint the governor black in the eyes of the sponsors of the armed herdsmen who have been terrorising Benue state?

Thank God Jega admitted, albeit grudgingly that there are bandits in the first place. If not, I would have asked him how his Zamfara state neighbours are faring. Or better still, the Kaduna and Niger states experiences.

Here in Benue, like in other states of the federation, it’s been an uneasy calm, both in the hands of armed Fulani herdsmen and local militia. In the beginning when Governor Ortom spoke, most Nigerian leaders never believed him. It was obvious, from the benefit of hindsight, that the rest of the leaders were living in denial of the truth.

At no time did Governor Ortom or his media aides say the governor was in the comfort of his bulletproof car when the herdsmen fired at him in an assassination attempt. At no time did the governor say he ran for “two kilometres.” Never. The governor repeatedly told newsmen that he was attacked after he had gone round, inspecting his farm with his security details in tow. And that he ran for about one and a half kilometres on foot not in the convoy of his cars.

Therefore, Mahmud Jega’s piece, ‘Crying Wolf When it Could be Squirrel’ of March 22, 2021 is filled up with a mixture of unintelligible and anarchist tendencies in equal proportions. There’s  clear evidence that this Jega has paucity of thoughts. It is evidenced in his puerile and assine reasoning and twisted logic which has shown that he is indeed, a badly conceived writer who should never be taken seriously.

In Jega’s bid to pour out invective, and sway the public against Governor Ortom, he left so many gaps in his article. Let me just highlight the element of anarchy inherent in this.

One, Jega is incensed that Governor Wike sounded out a germane warning to a nation already tottering menacingly and on the brink of war and disintegration. Wike’s warning is pointblank and portentous. For all patriotic Nigerians, it is common knowledge now, and everyone knows this that Nigeria is in grave danger of disintegration.

The sounds of drums of war are loud enough.   That, apart from the 1966 disagreements that led to the civil war, Nigeria has never been pushed to the precipice such as has been done by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Fulanization agenda. And this is where Jega is coming from and with a disposition of an ostrich.

It is a sad commentary that Jega would go to the extent of listing several distinguished people that were variously assassinated in Nigeria without the country coming to its end. It clearly shows that he is not only a poor student of history, but his endorsement of anarchy as national ethos is reprehensible.

How would anyone, who occupied a sensitive position as the head of an influential news medium that influences Nigerians display such emptiness? It shows that Jega has no modicum of patriotism in him which is why he’s advocating for assassinations against major state actors because there won’t be any major consequences. Is this a proof of the nation’s invincibility? Not at all.

In case Jega the journalist, columnist is not aware, the First World War was triggered by the assassination of the Arch Duke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on  June 28, 1914.  Right here in Africa, the Rwandan genocide that lasted between April 7 and July 15, 1994 was triggered by the assassination of President Juvenal Habaryimana on 14 April 1994.

In December 2010, the Arab spring was sparked off following Mohammed Bouazizi’s self immolation in protest of Police corruption and ill treatment. Many more examples abound.

So you see Malam Mahmud Jega, history is very instructive for humans whenever attention is paid to it. It is therefore not because Governor Ortom is more important than all the people that you have happily listed to have been assassinated in Nigeria without any iota of consequences. 

It is, however, sadistic on your part to want to pour iced water on Governor Wike’s early warning signs to the nation. Jega should know by now that Wike is far more knowledgeable and sensitive to the currents of history in Nigeria than what you could ever muster an insight to know.

It is rather unfortunate that we’ve elevated religious and ethnic sentiments, creating cleavages along these dangerous fault lines to the detriment of our collective interest as a nation. In dping this, we’re gradually destroying our communality.

We’re are blinded by incurable partisanship and religiosity as such we don’t know where we’ve gotten it wrong and what we need to do to retrace our steps. As we speak, Nigeria is bleeding through the activities of Fulani herdsmen, armed local militia warlords who have found themselves, comfort zones in all parts of the country.

For Governor Ortom, he can never be cowed into submission. And like he has consistently maintained, Ortom should be seen more as a solution to the Nigerian crises. He speaks truth to help provide the roadmap to recovery. Ortom believes in one indivisible Nigeria. A Nigerian free from injustice and one whose leaders embrace equity and fairness in their dealings with the people. This is what he has continued to shout from Benue.

So, even with his fledgling writing skills, Mahmud Jega has ended up displaying gross ignorance on the very basic issues of Nigeria and World Contemporary History, preferring rather to hoist the flag of a religious warlord whose interests are covered within the confines of a group bent on conquering and dominating others. This is what Governor Ortom has confronted head on and without apologies.

Ikyur is the Principal Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Benue State

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