By Elvis Iyorngurum
I read Senator-elect, Ben Murray-Bruce’s piece, “It Doesn’t Matter if the Cat is White or Black,” published in Thisday’s edition of April 29, 2015. In the article, he criticised President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari’s composition of his Transition Committee. He feels it is an inappropriate assemblage and questioned the General’s ability to constitute a productive team to support him in running his government. He also advised General Buhari to cut the cost of governance, beginning from Aso Rock, by reducing the overhead cost of the executive and persuading the legislature to do same.
Recently, Senator Murray-Bruce has been using his Twitter handle to further promote his prescriptions for our ailing economy. He asked General Buhari to use made in Nigeria Peugeot as his official car and also reduce the number of cars in the presidential fleet.
Senator Murray-Bruce is a man I had a lot of respect for. I heard him speak several times when he was campaigning for the Governorship of Bayelsa state. No doubt he is a brilliant and eloquent man and I had wished Bayelsans would give him the opportunity to lead them as their Governor and when that did not happen, I was deeply disappointed. Now much of that respect has eroded because of the Senator’s recent statements. His statements have a lot of substance I must admit, but they raise a lot of questions over his motive and his reputation.
The Senator had these brilliant ideas on how to run Nigeria and structure our financial and public service system, yet he failed to bring them forward until now, because his own, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has been the president. Now there’s an incoming president who is not from his region so he suddenly feels the need to come public and show he has a loud mouth. He criticised Gen Buhari’s constitution of his Transition Committee and it makes me wonder if he has ever felt it is helpful to our country that President Jonathan has had the likes of Doyin Okupe, Abba Moro, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Musiliu Obanikoro in his government. What did he say when Jonathan appointed Ahmadu Ali as his campaign DG and Fani Kayode as his campaign spokesperson? Talking about the cost of governance, why did he not ask President Jonathan to use made in Nigeria Peugeot car? Why did he not advise Jonathan to cut the overhead of the executive? Why did he not speak out when Stella Oduah bought two armoured cars with 225million Naira of unbudgeted public funds?
His ideas are brilliant and he has the right to state his own opinion on issues of governance. It is also well within his rights to criticise General Buhari and I do not intend to contest that. My concern is the attitude of seeing nothing wrong in a leader’s action if he is from your own part of the country and especially if you are benefiting from him. Clearly the Senator enjoyed Jonathan’s patronage and that can account for his emergence as a Senator. President Jonathan has ran the most incompetent, corrupt and despicable government any society can be cursed with. All through his five years of destroying this nation, one bit after the next, there was a man named Ben Murray-Bruce, a close confidant of the President who saw nothing wrong in all the president did or perhaps was too cowardly to say a word of caution to him. Now the same man wants us to see him as a brilliant saint who has the wisdom to advise a president on good leadership.
It is shameless hypocrisy for Senator Murray-Bruce to suddenly have the zest to criticise and condemn General Buhari for actions that he condoned when Dr Jonathan was the president. If he felt silence is golden for five years, he should accord it the same attribute now.
We must develop the value of standing for the truth regardless of who is on the side opposite of it. It is inevitable that if we must advance as a people, we must also grow beyond sentiments and selfish considerations and stand for the collective good of our society, no matter who it will pitch us against. The attitude of keeping quiet when someone from your region, religion or ethnicity is doing wrong and only speaking against the person from the other side is most unhelpful and unacceptable. It makes me question the integrity of Senator Murray-Bruce and the motive of his present sermonisations. He owes it to Nigerians to first of all explain why he kept quiet for five years while President Jonathan was strangling this nation to its death and also give us sufficient reasons to trust his character. The change we have instituted in our national culture is deeper than mere political change. It includes a new resolve to hold every public figure accountable for their actions and inactions and Senator Murray-Bruce can’t be an exception. Until he gives me reason not to, I believe he has been a beneficiary of the corruption in the present government that is why he never came out to criticise all the misdeeds of the government. On account of that belief, he lacks the moral authority to make the statements he is making now and he is a perfect example of the kind of character that we cannot condone in anyone who aspires to be called a public figure in the emerging Nigeria. God bless Nigeria.
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