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COLUMNIST, Omnipossibilities

When Next I Meet Ben Murray-Bruce

Posted: Jun 5, 2015 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

When next I meet Ben Murray-Bruce, he will be reporting to Nigerians from the hallowed grounds of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is on leave of absence from Silverbird Group which he founded and nurtured to number among the leaders in the class.

When next I meet Senator Ben Bruce, I’ll ask him why he expects to be seen as a pro-poor politician if he would join other legislators to collect humongous emoluments while his compatriots at outlandish Akassa in Brass Local Government, Bayelsa are mired in miserable marshland. I’ll ask him why the underclass should queue behind him if he’d not drive bills to uplift their inhuman status, while he is ensconced in luxury.

When next I meet Ben Bruce, I’ll let him know, if he didn’t, that he is in the midst of personalities Nigerians now cynically refer to as ‘legislooters’ or ‘legislathieves’ and not legislators. Sure, no court of law convicted them of looting and thievery. But the ruling in the people’s court is that where there is poverty and lack in the land, the condition of the ruler must align (sympathize) with that of the majority. If it doesn’t on account of the high life of the class in government, the people trace the disconnect to sources different from salutary income.

When next I meet Ben Bruce, I’ll tell him that God has given him the lifetime opportunity he’d been yawning for to brighten the little corner where he has been placed as a lawmaker. I’m going to tell him that contrary to popular perception, the legislator in representative democracy, the type we claim to be running, is the main organ, the engine, the hub, the pivot of the system. It’s not the president. This unduly celebrated figure is only a symbol of the entire setup of process. The legislature is the driver of the system, wheeled by a conscientious judiciary and impartial media. Remove the legislator or neutralize him and the whole system corrupts, collapses, crashes, dies.

When next I come across Ben Murray Bruce, I’ll tell him to strive to be different from the others. He must walk the talk, as the cliché goes. I’ll urge him to come out after his Senatorial sojourn with less luggage than he took in. You would shed weight if you serve, if you work. It is those who don’t work who develop beer belly. If you walk the talk you would come out poorer, materially that is. But you’d be weightier on the integrity scale. That Nigerians don’t applaud you when you return from government job leaner financially is no reason not to pursue this laudable goal. Why must government work turn into a walk into fortune?

When next I meet Ben Bruce, I will tell him to one more time wield the magic stick he brandished to restore the dead cinema to life.

When the cinema lay dead and final obsequies had been concluded such that no film-maker, writer, producer/director or entrepreneur dared suggest a return to renewing interest in it because of the formidable process, Ben Bruce appeared on the scene for a dare. He single-handedly recalled the industry from its graveyard abode.

Initially, it was believed he didn’t have a dog’s chance of making it. How could he succeed? The departed cinema had been swiftly replaced with home video. Television was going stronger, with local and foreign sitcoms and soaps irresistible menu to look forward to every night. How about the unsafe streets at night? It discouraged any thought of reviving the cinema. Finally, Nollywood began to bloom, with doomsdays predictions that the cinema would never come back.

Somehow, however, Ben Bruce wasn’t overwhelmed by these real fears. Putting forth the uncanny idea that if he could bring together a home-like ambience complete with large screens and digital sound audio complexes (features which previous theatres didn’t have), he’d resurrect the cinema, he trudged on and refused to listen to entreaties to desist from a perceived entrepreneurial misadventure.

Now the cinema is back alive. Now Nigeria and her people need life also, to be alive again.

When next I meet face to face with Ben Bruce, I’ll tell him to remember what he said in 2012 during the bloody struggle over fuel subsidy. He said: “Since Independence in 1960, successive administrations have paid little attention to the poor. …All school children in uniform, senior citizens over 60 and children above 10 must travel free of charge by public transportation…”

I’ll tell him to write this in a note book and carry it wherever he goes. I will tell him to cause it to be inscribed boldly all over his house and office so he can read it at every turn and be challenged to legislate for its fulfillment.

Finally, when next I meet Senator Ben Murray-Bruce I’ll tell him the sad story of a beautiful woman who has been exploited and battered and ravaged over the ages. Now, she is the Eighth Wonder of the World. Those who see her, wonder why she has not died with all she has passed through, why she has not gone out of existence, gone out of favour with deceptive suitors. I’ll ask: why do they keep going for this woman, promising her Heaven, but giving her hell on earth?