Monday, 8 February 2016

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce: Simply Brilliant or Just Shooting Blanks?

It is said that one should be the change he desires in his society. While this sounds melodious and smart (I have said it too), it is only realistic in:
  • a self-governed society without leaders or elites
  • a society where each and every member is making efforts to change his/her personal behavior in order to attain the desired societal change. 

In a society like ours, significant societal changes lay with the elites or the ruling class. Personal behavioral changes would be little steps towards a societal change that may only be observed by the people in the individual’s immediate environment. 

Having started with the term ‘change’, you shall be pardoned for thinking that this another pro- or anti-APC/Buhari divination…well, it isn’t. This divination is about the amiable Senator Ben Murray-Bruce.

By the virtue of being an Honorable Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ben Murray-Bruce -as well as his colleagues - is among the ruling class and, therefore, is an elite. It is his duty, just as it is with his colleagues, to bring the desired change or transformation (depending on whom you ask) which Nigeria and Nigerians really do need.

The then newly elected Senator Ben Bruce showed his promise as a progressive and wowed Nigerians with his speech at the Silverbird Man of the Year 2014. Now known as the ‘common sense Senator’, he has continued to use the power of the internet to provide ideas on how Nigeria should be governed and developed. His online ’common sense series with Ben’ has expectedly further endeared him to even a greater number of Nigerians.

He could not have come up with a better title for his short clips than ‘common sense’ because most of all he had said were very reasonable. However, they are not exactly new…many common Nigerians have been of similar thoughts and have shared similar ideas in the past. The difference now is that these thoughts and ideas are coming from a sitting Senator- Ben Murray-Bruce.

On my last count, the common sense series had 14 contents. 10 of these contents focused on what the Federal Government and associated Ministries, Departments and Agencies should do to make Nigeria better. These include topics on the need to encourage agriculture; his idea of how unemployed Nigerians can be paid N5,000 monthly; his thoughts on the proposed ban of certain generator sets; his thoughts on how security can be improved in Nigeria; his thoughts on NNPC; his opinion on the proposed pencil production; suggestions on how the government can fight Boko Haram and suicide bombers; his suggestion on the need for Nigeria and South Africa to cooperate; his advice that INEC should improve in the conduct of elections; and his advice to the President and ruling party to focus on achieving their goals instead of blaming the previous government. The remaining four contents focused on the Governors whom he advised paying N18,000 as minimum wage; public office holders in general whom he advised to reduce the number of cars in their convoys; Nigerians in general whom he advised to appreciate and honor those in the military and also help those displaced by Boko Haram attacks; and finally the call for an independent prosecutor to help fight corruption -he said he would push for this in the Senate House.

As much as his ideas are good, with a few sounding a bit utopian; I cannot help but feel that he has gone rat-chasing while his house is on fire. It seems to me that Senator Murray-Bruce is doing to the executive, what APC is doing to the past administration. Bruce appears to have turned special adviser to the Executive while neglecting the junk in the Senate that needs tidying, and the APC appears to have remained the number one critic of the past administration while seemingly neglecting the junk in the Country that needs tidying up.

In all he had said so far, once did he mention the Senate and that was when he said he would sponsor a bill that will establish the office of an Independent Prosecutor to lead the fight against corruption. This even struck me more on the episode where he discussed cars used by public officials…he specifically pointed out how State Governors, their Deputies, Speakers of States’ Houses of Assembly and Ministers have a plethora of cars in their convoys. He was definitely right there, but did he not miss a set of people? Was it not reported that the Senate which he is a part of had earmarked N4.7 billion for exotic cars which their leadership and members would use?

Whilst I respect his ideas and suggestions, I do not understand what good it is to the common Nigerian. His common sense series are mainly for an audience made up of the average Nigerians who can do little or nothing to implement the ideas therein. I wish I can understand why a Senator who is better positioned to bring the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians to fruition ends up re-packaging and relaying back to Nigerians those same aspirations which they crave. If we are to cry to you for consolation and instead of consoling us, you are crying too…wetin we go now do?

I don’t expect Senator Ben Murray-Bruce to solve all the problems Nigeria and Nigerians have, but he is the elite or one of the elites that Nigerians are hoping would bring the needed change in the NASS. There are a thousand and one ways the Senate house, its businesses and proceedings can be improved in order to be more efficient…a thousand and one amendments that can be made to our constitution…a thousand and one bills that a progressive-minded Senator can sponsor. Therefore, I would like to see a Senator Murray-Bruce who makes a difference using his office as a Senator; I would like to see a Senator Murray-Bruce that tackles the issues Nigerians have with the National Assembly; and I will like a Senator Murray-Bruce who has a series which highlights issues with the NASS and Nigerian constitution and how he intends to help fix them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some Nigerians disagree with me and say stuff like: “at least Senator Murray-Bruce is giving us his ideas, what have other Senators done?” It is the usual ‘half-bread’ mentality that prevents us from demanding for ALL that is meant for us.

Our lovely Ben Bruce, you are now a Senator; an Elite Nigerian. As a Senator, you have a greater chance of improving the lives of Nigerians through the NASS than influencing proceedings at the Aso Rock which is presently occupied by our old man. Please leave the ideas, dreams, crying, aspirations, wailing, etc. for us the average Nigerians; those are our responsibilities...you simply cannot be a Senator and be crying like the Chief Priest. Focus instead on pushing for a restructuring in the Senate House, on listening to the wailings of the average Nigerians, and on sponsoring/introducing bills that would bring succor to them…these are now your responsibilities.

The Oracle has spoken!!