Ben Murray Bruce, the Janus-faced Naira Activist, By Modiu Olaguro

By Modiu Olaguro

“I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one that comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.” – Malcolm X at the Oxford Union

For an economy whose body, soul and spirit depend solely on the black gold, a change, however nuance will inescapably make an impression on the lives of the people. In the case of a surge, such nation should ordinarily become the toast of the world, a place where everyone would not want to leave the earth without visiting, a haven of sort. But if otherwise, the consequences will in summary, be no less than a needle effect on the populace.

Not with Nigeria. In the periods of boom, the equation failed to balance up, same as in the days of bust. In fact, with every increase in the price of oil, the plight of the Nigerian people worsened. Save the political repression which was the hallmark of the ignoble rule of Sani Abacha, Nigerians could still feed themselves and their children from a pot of soup suspended from an Abacha stove.

Skip the short tenure of Abdul Salam Abubakar…

Then came the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, a farmer whose rant about how well he governed the country would make one ask if it was not Nigeria he refers – this Nigeria? A man who although increased the price of petrol at least eight times in eight years, left the country in a much more pitiful state than he met it. Had he dropped his military toga and implacable megalomania while in office, not a single soul would shrill if he is today addressed as the father of modern Nigeria.

The days of Messrs. Umaru Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan were the Joseph years, with Nigeria earning so much that had both men had eyes on their faces, Nigeria need not be in such dire situation.

The rest is now history.

Now that gloom has replaced boom with oil price hovering around $35 to $40 a barrel, the most basic responsibility of the government to its workers has become an uphill task to fulfill. With this in mind, coupled with the very fact that ours is a completely import dependent nation, the clamour for locally made goods has been at an apogee in recent months.

And whom do we see at the forefront of the struggle? Ben Murray Bruce, a senator of the federal republic. He has taken the naira sermon to every platform. Log on to Twitter and you’ll find him; on Facebook, he is there, either grinning with Innocent Chukwuma, the CEO of Innoson motors or Nuhu Ribadu, the former anti-corruption czar. Even after Nigerians staged a ballot revolution to oust the corrupt President Jonathan from office, Mr. Bruce continues to delude himself that Nigerians are a bunch of 170m fools whose heads are filled with garri and elubo!

Those individuals who heard, followed and believed Mr. Bruce’s sermon of #buynaijatogrowthenaira probably thought the senator’s campaign, which he christened the campaign of commonsense was firmly rooted in altruism and patriotism. But recent events, which culminated in his launch of a book worthy of no local printing press have unraveled the motivation behind Bruce’s usurped hashtag as another gimmick from an unprincipled politician who has an incorrect sense of patriotism.

Each time he shares a collection of shoes he bought at the Aba trade fair, or flashes his expensive Innoson vehicles, Nigerians are taken aback at a man who looks white but appears to lead from the frontline in the quest to salvage the economy of a black nation – the most populous black nation. The question of the timing of the campaign was inconsequential to his admirers. To them, at least he was walking his talking.

Alas, every politician is a hypocrite, and every hypocrite, a politician!

What is keeping Bruce from taking his commonsense to the grey areas in the life of the Senate? Or does commonsense not extend to informing the citizenry of what you earn for sitting allowance, feeding allowance, sleeping allowance, clothing allowance, and in fact, farting allowance?

As it stands, the budget of the National Assembly, which Mr. commonsense is a member continues to sit pretty in the umbra of Nigeria’s consciousness. Shouting #buynaijatogrowthenaira does nothing to diminish the fact that the funds Bruce uses to acquire these locally made products are from the secret purse of the National Assembly. An appalling scenario which is tantamount to a thief who basks in angelic colours each time he patronises his victims after an operation.

The deceitful argument that he might have finalised the process of printing the book overseas before the fall of the naira would only convince retards whose feeblemindedness makes one doubt the content within their heads; for patriotism, which ordinarily radiates from an average citizen begins at birth and extends beyond death. The very fact that his fall into opposition has pricked him into the naira campaign is a candid reflection of why Nigeria remains as it is.

Great countries are built by citizens who remain patriotic irrespective of their social or political leaning, not those who see no other means of seeking relevance than the misuse of politics to preach a value they loathe. The unfortunate thing about the #buynaijatogrowthenaira campaign which has been polluted by Bruce is that the easy prey, whose morale was raised by the common sense revolutionary have once again found a good reason to lose hope in the very fabric our democracy was sewn.

With the Made-in-USA book, they have for the umpteenth time been betrayed by a man who looked so serious with his hashtag, sounded so real with his naira gospel, only to find no worthy print at Ojuelegba, or Ibadan, nay, the hundreds of press in the senatorial district he represents.

With democracy comes hypocrisy. And what better time to hide under the cover of naira to feign nationalism and pedestrianism than a time like this when the nation is in desperate need of someone in the PDP who has a soul. With Bruce, every Nigerian who desires a viable opposition was thankful that at least the rank of that party is not wholly occupied by the Fayoses, the Obanikoros and the Metuhs.

Truth is that Ben Murray Bruce, just like his counterparts in the PDP, and by extension, the nation’s political space does not give a damn about the health of the naira, as their allegiance lie in keeping Nigeria for themselves and their cronies. Deep down, Ben’s hue and cry over the naira is simply because he saw the situation as a political advantage.

“Always make your words sweet for you may have to eat them one day. What is the exchange rate today? #Buynaijatogrowthenaira” – Ben Murray Bruce, 19 February, 2016.

“If we will not spend money on made in Nigeria goods and services, how can we expect our naira to hold its value and appreciate? #Buynaijatogrowthenaira” – Ben Murray Bruce, 22 February, 2016.

“All criticism is an autobiography, dig yourself.” – Bernard Shaw

What our distinguished senator does not realise is that every word he spewed on the #buynaijatogrowthenaira platform was documented, compiled, edited, and made into an autobiography. We were only waiting for him to sign it off which he did successfully the day he unleashed his #PrintInTheUsSellInNaija book.

With the extent Senator Bruce has dug, it’s a miracle he has not met crude oil.

Modiu Olaguro, a youth corps member teaches mathematics at Jebba.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @ModiuOlaguro