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Tinubu’s 2023 PR and Jega’s Poor anti-Najaatu

By Farooq Kperogi 


People who care about their personal reputational capital (many don’t, which is fine) should never accept to serve as the spokesperson for a politician, any politician, in Nigeria. It never ends well.

See the way the incomparably brilliant and insightful Mahmud Jega is unraveling just days after his appointment as Bola Tinubu’s media adviser.

Given my knowledge of him, I’d naively thought that he would bring his trademarked intellectual sophistication and depth to his new job. But the press statement he wrote to refute Najaatu Mohammed’s anti-Tinubu outburst was a huge letdown.

Apart from the refined and creatively humorous prose, it was the same substance-free, mendacious, tendentious, and unthinking insult-fest that we have become accustomed to in Nigerian political public relations.

And there’s such a jarring disconnect between the press statement and Jega’s personality. He is a normally even-tempered, mild-mannered, conciliatory, excessively polite, and deeply thoughtful person.

I can bet that he merely wrote what Tinubu’s agents wanted him to write, not what he thought he needed to write to be effective and persuasive.

The goal of all good public relations is to persuade, not to prevaricate, antagonize, malign, and cook outright lies.

Mahmud Jega knows this more than anyone I know. What motivates smart people like him to so easily and so casually violate their principles and undermine their knowledge? Money?

Now, Najaatu is fighting back, and she’s fighting dirty. Mahmud can’t defeat her because it’s not even his nature to fight people.

Is Tinubu’s money worth the reputational self-harm Mahmud is inflicting on himself? I don’t think so, but then I am not him.

It’s just that I respect him too much to see him go the way of Adamu Adamu, my revered teacher Garba Shehu, and many others–even before he has a chance to be in government, which he’d resisted for years on principle.

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