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The Curious Case Of Ben Murray-Bruce

Anthony A. Kila

There is a fascinating metamorphosis going on amongst Nigerian elites that is worthy of paying attention to. Like in the biological process wherein animals physically develop a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in their body structure through cell growth and differentiation, some Nigerian elites are rapidly metamorphosing into something different from what they were. Unlike in the animal kingdom, the metamorphosis of the Nigerian elites seems to be externally induced by the results of the general elections and in particular the emergence of General Muhamadu Bhuari as President-elect.

Such cases abound, from those Igbo leaders who are suddenly discovering that the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan lied to them, to Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba who after sixteen years of his party’s dominance decides it is time to lead a non partisan group to a new President-elect to cry on behalf of the suffering of his dear impoverished state citizens to those GEJ loving Yoruba leaders who suddenly remember that they voted for Buhari in the past and, of course, to new Senator-elect Ben Murray- Bruce, who out of his patriotism has in the last few days decided it is time set a manifesto for the new government he did not help elect.

The case of Ben Murray-Bruce is a rather curious case because unlike most public figures who in their younger years start out as patriots, idealists and even revolutionaries then become realists and reformists or even fatalists as they grow older, Ben Murray-Bruce seems to be doing the reverse.

The man seems to be developing   purposethe fresh ideas as he gets older and more powerful with no space for sacrifice or time in the wilderness. Chairman of the Silverbird Group and now Senator-elect Ben Murray-Bruce is no ordinary Nigerian and he is not like many of our politicians who before their foray into public office were largely unknown for any endeavour or influence in the country.

The man has a series of platforms from TV to radio stations that he can use to voice his opinions and he has thoroughly used them any time he deems fit. For over three decades, Ben Murray-Bruce has had not only access to but also influence over information, particularly entertainment. As an impresario, he successfully brought foreign groups and artistes into Nigeria for concerts with his Silverbird Production.

And whilst we were all enjoying the thrill of watching Shalamar, Kool and the Gang and Lakeside and others perform in Lagos, some of us wondered why someone like him did not think of or could not work on exporting some of our Nigerian artistes, especially since some foreign promoters were already interested in the likes of Fela Kuti, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obe, Sunny Okosun, Victor Uwaifo, etc.

A few of us noted that his choice of artistes were of pure entertainers with no political or social messages. Let it be clear, he committed no offence by doing all that and the omission just indicates a mindset and showcases a level of commitment to sociopolitical sensibilities.

That mindset and level of commitment to sociopolitical sensibilities did not however impede the Nigerian government under the first coming of the PDP from appointing Ben Murray-Bruce   as Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), that same mindset and commitment to sociopolitical sensibilities did not stop Ben Murray-Bruce from accepting the nomination.

I have noticed that whilst the new senatorelect speaks glowingly of himself and his achievements in his private business empire, there seems to be a deafening silence over his achievement at the NTA from him and his hagiographers. In the last coming of the PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan was however better informed for he saw it fit to appoint Ben Murray-Bruce as chairman, board of directors of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), now, as this is a sort of promotion from DG; I am assuming President Goodluck Jonathan was impressed with his performance as DG of NTA and so was Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson who decided to appoint him Special Adviser on Infulvestment and Tourism. In the last sixteen years, Ben Murray-Bruce has always been a friend of ruling politicians and a staunch member of the PDP; he has never wasted any of his precious time in opposition nor been part of any protest. He even unsuccessfully tried to be a governor under PDP in Bayelsa State.

Now that he has become a Senator-elect, guess where? Yes, on the platform of the PDP, it is a very curious case to see that he is planning to go to the senate on everything alien to the PDP. Over the weekend, I read him on twitter and on some online publications say “we must sell presidential fleet, we must cut the salaries of public servants”.

I hate to state the obvious but really someone must tell our new Senator-elect that these abnormalities came about under the rule of a party he was friendly with and under a government he had access to. We need to remind Ben Murray-Bruce that maybe we could have saved a bundle if he had spoken to his friends in power. He needs to be told that what he is asking for is change whilst he worked for continuity against change in the last elections.

Is Ben Murray-Bruce a traitor or a convert? The case of Ben Murray-Bruce gets even more curious when the senator-elect goes on to advice the President-elect on the art of war, politics and governance and he tells him to discard ideas and ideologies. No Senator-elect, politics and governance are based on principles, ideas and an outlook of the world. Your PDP got itself and Nigeria in this mess we are in today because it discarded ideas, principles and ideologies. If the Senator-elect has seen the light and he is now a convert to change against the continuity of PDP, let him first tell us when this happened, indicate his road to Damascus and spend some time in rehab to detox himself of his years of silence in the face of bad governance and waste.

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