#CommonSense: Open Letter to Senator Ben Murray-Bruce

Ben Murray-Bruce

Dear Senator Ben Murray-Bruce,

Greetings from the Village Town Crier. I must confess I admire your person so much. Your achievements in life are motivating. At times, you could be so articulate in addressing issues of public affairs. I loved you as a technocrat sir and I wish you never ventured into politics as it sacrificed your high repute statue.

I have followed your common sense trend for a while via social media and I must admit I have found most of your views more comical rather than relevant. I am by no means a cynic but a conk realist. I have a profound feeling you must have excelled in 'beer parlour' arguments when you were much younger sir. Well, most people use social media to unwind while others use it for serious business and I wish you could boldly tell us where you stand. My idea of your common sense concept gives me the orientation that common sense is not actually common in the real sense. Your views smell of stark hypocrisy sir. In fact, if hypocrisy was a school, your academic records would have been ahead of time like Albert Einstein’s prediction on gravitational waves which was detected by other scientists 100 years after his revelation.

Dear 'Twitter Senator', my words may sound offensive but I want you to open your church heart and let them sink in to make you a better person to serve your people of Bayelsa East senatorial district as you covertly labour for a return in 2019 not out of your passion to serve but because power is 'sweet and lucrative'.

Benjamin Disraeli said: “mediocrity can talk but it’s for genius to observe” My long observation of your views has prompted me to come out of my shell to address some cogent issues.

Leaders like you can only strive in societies where the individuals flaunt their mediocrity with pride. Societies where sex articles sell more that political or social economic issues. A society where the youths have failed to use the internet to acquire knowledge about the polity, a society where the internet which is an avenue for achievers like Mark Zuckerberg, Linda Ikeji, Seun Osewa and others to make a life has been substitute for a viable dating ground and a goldmine for financial crimes, a society where some youths don't even know their own history not to talk of that of other societies.

I find it awkward for a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act as a 'fashion model' helping to maintain the seats of the red chambers from dust during the plenary with rare incidents of contributions, I mean the 'Siddon Look' style as the Minister of Transport Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi accused you of; but on Twitter you are the vocal activist whose voice must be heard. Is that not an act of doing the right thing at the wrong place? You seem to have a mastery of the art of window dressing. That's a powerful skill that will sustain your survival in Nigerian politics where deceit is paramount.

Because of time factor, I will like to objectively take you up on certain issues of 'common sense' which you have raised.

Firstly, I must admit I was impressed with your advocacy for agriculture as a means of solving the problem of unemployment in the country and improving the state of the economy. Your ideas are perfectly accurate but a vivid investigation has revealed you have NO FARM sir. That defies the principle of charity beginning at home as well as leaders practicing what they preach. What happened to the act of leading by example?

Secondly, you deserve a national award for your contributions to the #BuyNaijaToGrowNaira campaign on Twitter. In fact, I can't wait to read your Common Sense Revolution book not for the knowledge but for the sole purpose of seeing the back page to confirm that you printed it in the United States of America. What happened to the local market you are advocating for? What happened to local publishers of excellence like the University Press Plc, Literamed Publication, Kachifo Limited, Evans Publishers Limited, Cassava Republic Press and others? I guess you underrated the vigilance and intelligence of Nigerians by printing the book abroad.

Sir, I made out time to watch a video clip of your advocacy during a plenary for a palliative concerning the adverse effects of fuel subsidy removal on the masses with the introduction of a mass transit system like we have in developed countries. You also applauded President Muhammadu Buhari's controversial 2016 national budget which intends to borrow approximately N2 trillion for capital projects. I was quite impressed until you advised the government to go as far as borrowing up N50 trillion once to industrialize Nigeria overnight. Who does that? Is that not suicidal for a country with a history of corruption and public officials who gallantly seek refuge under the law? That's a subtle way of selling the country to the financier.

Sir, I also read your tweets on the age structure of Ministers in the United Arab Emirates which is dominated by youths with the 29-man cabinet having an average age of 38. According to you, the Minister of State for Youths and Sports Chair of the National UAE Youth Council, Shamma Almazrui is 22 while ours in Nigeria, Solomon Dalung is 51. For your information senator, UAE didn't achieve greatness with the influx of youths in government. It’s a new initiative that we all applauded and wish our country to emulate. I personally wish the youths could be given a chance in Buhari's administration as promised but I find it odd hearing it from a senator who is 60 years old. I would have appreciated it if you sacrificed your ambition to sponsor a Bayelsa youth to represent your senatorial district. That gesture could have gone viral with a contagious effect of emulation across the country. Remember change starts from me and you. If we can't change ourselves, then we can't change the world.

Furthermore sir, I applaud your perceived passion for the Nigerian youths. I love the way you engage us on social media with stringent issues affecting the country but sir, an act of yours baffles me till tomorrow. How come you kept mute about the anti-social media bill sponsored by Kebbi South Senator, Ibn Bala Na'allah? It passed the first reading at the senate under your nose knowing fully well it’s a medium you conveniently use to express your harsh views about the current administration. Remember this prompted Sahara Reporters to take you up on your silence. This stained your credentials as a leader worthy of being followed by youths who dominate the social media. Under your watch, their promising voices were almost killed by the 'unquestionable leaders'.

Concerning the act of buying locally-made products to grow the stunted naira, you suggested Nigerians should stop buying £60 worth of jerseys of European football club-sides and support local clubs like Enyimba, 3SC, Kano Pillars and the rest. Sir, to whom much is given, much is expected. The United Kingdom government created an avenue for the development of an attractive football league that thrills the world. This has prompted Nigerians to put their monies where their heart is. The Nigerian league lacks beauty, adequate publicity, sponsorship and attractiveness. The stadia in Nigeria have become a safe haven for hoodlums thereby discouraging fans from watching live matches. The Nigerian government can't rip from an aspect it neglected. Such a suggestion by you will definitely fall on deaf ears. I am sure you just uttered those words to fill space on your book.

Sir, I can also see you have fast become an unofficial ambassador of Innoson motors. You have led by example with the purchase you have made and their vehicles litter your Twitter account. Many Nigerians believe it’s the usual act of hypocrisy but since I can't prove it, I leave judgement to posterity. I wish you could advise the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Innocent Chukwuma Innoson to make cheap vehicles that will attract the patronage of the average Nigerians. Remember Tecno mobile broke into the Nigerian market with this strategy before the company made a breakthrough with the Android operating system.

Sir, please pardon me if I am taking so much off your time with this piece. I sincerely apologize if it seems I am probing into your personal life. There is a saying that ''he who comes into equity, must come with clean hands''.

Your advocacy for Nigerian products was dead on arrival due to some major decisions you have taken before the Common Sense trend. I read you have a son named Jared who schooled in Loyola Marymount University in the United States of America where he bagged a B.A in Communications.  I wish he strengthened the naira by studying in top Nigerian universities like the University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin and others.

When you criticized the appointment of Nigerian international Journalist, Tolu Ogunlesi as Buhari's media aide, people applauded you as an intelligent leader. You made common sense sincerely. According to you, Buhari has appointed 4 media aides in the face of economic downturn with no Economic Adviser which has boosted propaganda. Little do your Twitter followers know that you have fire burning at your backyard in Abuja which you ignored and rushed to Aso Rock Villa to assist Buhari to put out his own inferno. I wish you could explain your stand about the appointment of alleged Boko Haram sponsor, Ali Modu Sheriff as the Acting Chairman of your party. You have simply turned a blind eye to the issue out of fear of not jeopardizing your political ambition in the PDP. Femi Fani Kayode won the hearts of many including mine with his stand against Sheriff which he has defended fearless like a soldier at his duty post.

Sir, I want to assume you must have seen a viral social media joke about the high cost of popcorn at your Silverbird cinemas across Nigeria. According to the joke, it costs a whooping sum of N800 per sachet. I have a feeling the popcorn is imported too for it to go for that amount.
Here is a breakdown of how N800 can be spent on a good treat at Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. At Hospital junction, you can purchase a big piece of Fish for N100, Yam N100, Plantain N100, (all roasted) and then a cold soft drink (big) N70 to complement the digestion process with some remaining change.

Sir, permit me to bring to your notice a well-publicized act of inefficiency displayed by your Silverbird Cinema in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. I am citing this to help you soft-pedal when attacking Buhari on Twitter. The 10th of January, 2016 is a day Nollywood producer, Okechukwu Oku who was scheduled to premiere his new movie, 'The Boss Is Mine’ at your cinemas in the South-south part of Nigeria will never forget in a hurry. There was a power outage during the movie premiere with eminent attendees thrown into darkness. It lasted for virtually 5 hours and investigations revealed all the 4 stand-by generators of your company were dead. This led to the exit of disgruntled VIP guests.
In saner climes, your company would have never recovered from a heavy lawsuit slammed on it by legal representatives of the filmmaker.

Being the president of Nigeria is a herculean task, even the students of the University of Lagos who you invited to your 60th birthday party of a small circle were mismanaged and left with experiences to forget not to talk of dealing with a population of over 170 million people who have just been freed from the 16-year captivity of the opposition party.

Lastly, I remember your response to a Twitter follower who inquired about your take on the indictment of the former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the returned Sani Abacha loots handed over questionably to the embattled Sambo Dasuki. From your pictorial expression, you applauded her. Personally, I feel it doesn't speak well of your loyalty to your party, PDP rather than to Nigeria. Note that corruption is the major reason why 110 million Nigerians are poor today.

Dear Sir, I am full of respect for you and that accounts for the reason why I have taken the pains of compiling my views in this open letter. I hope adjustments could be made to drive home your Common Sense messages.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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