The name Ben Bruce naturally generates a number of reactions in the minds of many Nigerians as a Fashionista, Celebrity and Entertainer.
Nigerians are also familiar with household names created by the entertainment guru such as Silverbird’s Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Cinema and a radio and television station which has helped enrich the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
Bruce’s success in the entertainment industry is indeed what many would call an American Dream come true, and is a wakeup call to the Nigerian youth illustrating that from nothing, one can go on to build empires.
Therefore, it was with much gladness that I welcomed his entry into politics when in 2012; he sought the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party to become its guber candidate. While I knew that as the rookie that he was, he would have to contend with the powers that be for the ticket and that odds would be heavily stacked against him, I still saw his entry into politics as another leap forward for Nigeria, as ‘Clean Men’ like Bruce could then bring about the much needed change in our politics and help change the mindset of a number of youths that it was a dirty game. Unfortunately for Bruce, he was disqualified owing to issues bordering on his membership of the party then, but for us it was a good start.
In 2015, opportunity reared its head again and Bruce ran for Senate, under the Peoples Democratic Party and won, beating or should I say rigging out mercilessly a former Governor of the State, Timipriye Sylva, who polled a meager number of votes.
No sooner had he become a senator, Nigerians began to witness a new Bruce, who started proselytizing “The Common Sense Revolution” where he has been touting ideas after ideas on what is wrong with the country and how we can fix them. Using media platforms, Bruce has sought to identify the troubles with the Nigerian nation whilst at the same time proffering solutions to these challenges.
The trouble with Bruce’s Common Sense Revolution is that one cannot discern whether it is a publicity drive or a genuine cause to salvage Nigeria. For example, many have asked where has Bruce being all these years? Was he asleep when his party the PDP raped Nigeria from 1999 to 2015? Particularly, when his kinsman in former President Goodluck Jonathan held sway and nearly ran the nation aground. Surprisingly, Bruce saw no evil and thus tucked his commons sense revolution in his boxer shorts.
I was miffed when Bruce went on twitter to announce that he was donating half of his wardrobe allowance to the people of Osun State, following the failure of the Osun State Government to pay salaries for some months. For all its worth, I as many Nigerians felt that such philanthropy was puerile and unbecoming for a man like Bruce. First of all, one felt that Bruce should have as a Senator worked across the aisle in the Senate to perhaps sponsor a bill that would have sought relief or bailout packages for states like Osun. Again, one wonders whether a paltry sum of N253, 300.00 per annum would have been enough for over 30,000 civil servants in Osun, while his home state of Bayelsa owed pensioners and workers too. Many therefore wondered why Ben Bruce wanted to begin his own charity abroad.
Perhaps, like the village rascal, who is not fretful about the notoriety of his image, Bruce has not let up from playing to the gallery time and time again. One time, the senator advocated on twitter that he was wondering why Nigeria with 36 states had to have 36 ministers, whereas the United States of America with 50 states had 18 or thereabout ministers. I quickly retorted that the same United States had two senators per state and asked whether he was willing to give up his seat in order to make his common sense practical! Dear readers, Senator Bruce never responded and as at this point in time he still has his seat in the senate!
From his tweets urging Fashola not to use generator, to his referral to a minister in Buhari’s cabinet as a criminal unto his silence while the Senate in its profligacy wants to purchase cars amounting to N4.5bn, Senator Bruce has shown that hypocrisy is now becoming his favourite past time.
The trouble in his common sense revolution is that Bruce sounds like a socialist while he is a capitalist, a liberal while he is a pseudo liberal and a progressive whereas he is at heart pro establishment.
While I do not frown at his being vocal, I would only wish that Senator Bruce would channel his new found love for activism unto good bills, motions and resolutions on the floor of the senate, guided by truth and patriotism.
This way, he would not only make a good case for himself but also for millions of professionals considering politics as a means of service.
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