By Philip Agbese
There is the opposition, there is misdirected anger, there is crass unpatriotic fervour and there is Senator Ben Murray-Bruce. The Senator representing Bayelsa East district fancies himself as the defacto leader of the children of anger, the amalgam of a people that see righteous justification in being miffed at society for their own shortcomings in the hope that such wrongly channelled ire will palliate their tortured souls.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce has perfected how to tap into this anger to rationalize his self-absorption with the loss of a chance to return to the National Assembly and continue enjoying access to the fat cat allowances that he will soon stop earning when the Eight National Assembly is shuttered. Had he been serious a tad he might have made his people see sense in rewarding good representation as opposed to a counterproductive zoning arrangement. But he was busy rehearsing his charade of ‘Common Sense’. Knowing that the last thing his people want is listening to is his request return to the Senate he simply kept himself off the ballot to stave off the disgrace of a resounding defeat even on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is formidable in Bayelsa state.
He wrote recently on his Facebook wall, “Baga, allegedly taken by Boko Haram, Kekenou, reportedly fell this afternoon, now the reports we are reading is that the insurgents are marching on to Monguno. How does it seem if all this is happening and our entire leadership, led by President Muhammadu Buhari is celebrating in Uyo while our soldiers are dying in Borno?”
What followed by way of comments from his followers disgraces the Murray-Bruce family name and dishonours the Senate. At the lowest ebb of irresponsibility yet, the Facebook wall of a serving senator became the platform for promoting separatists ideology, terrorists’ cheering, hate speech spewing and canvassing for the disintegration of Nigeria. Of course there are the brash comments that censured the lawmakers for tolerating and clearly promoting these unpatriotic communications.
It is interesting to note that Senator Murray-Bruce never thought it prudent to moderate his wall so that those that posted comments that are openly inciting or constitute hate speech are called to order. The reality is that the ‘Common Sense’ man is incapable of correcting even himself. The slightest check would have pointed him to the assertion of the Nigerian Army that it was chasing after the terrorists that attacked Baga town. But he refuse to acknowledge that he lied in his post.
More gut wrenching is the realization that fake news is being created, peddled, and promoted by a serving Senator, who happens to be the owner of a media house, forget that his Silverbird group is more preoccupied with parading half-nude women than reporting probing news. If he can lie about Boko Haram “taking” certain towns then we wonder if anything that comes from his media group or his contributions on the floor of the Senate should ever be taken seriously.
It is not that the Senator cannot check to verify the facts. The reality is that the correct version of the story conflicts with the intention of the Atiku campaign. Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate is all anchored on shopping for Buhari’s failure, which he is finding difficult to find. Murray-Bruce as part of the people working for Atiku would therefore tell just any lie to make it appear like they finally found the failure they have been shopping for.
But the foregoing is assuming that Senator Murray-Bruce would behave responsibly to again use his wall to tell his followers what the true situation is in Borno state. The reality is that Boko Haram must have thought they can pull off another attack on a military base and get away with it but they were thwarted.
Secondly, a truly patriotic Senator should have interrogated what it is that is behind the latest wave of Boko Haram resurgence after they have been trounced by the Nigerian military. One would expect that a lawmaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would have investigated the relationship between the breaking of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Middle East and the desperation of Boko Haram to capture a territory for the fleeing ISIS commanders to find refuge.
Such thinking outside the box is alien to Ben Murray-Bruce. Again it may just be that the Senator wrongly assumed that the upsurge in Boko Haram attacks is the one the PDP paid for in order to claim that President Buhari failed to deliver on his promise to deliver on security. In the past, the speed at which the party come out to celebrate terrorists’ attacks on military posts had triggered the suspicion that Boko Haram usually notify them ahead about the timing and location of attacks. That is why “the reports” Murray-Bruce was “reading is that the insurgents are marching on to Monguno” when no such publication was made, which implies that he was reading from the advisory sent to PDP by Boko Haram.
Even though his party, the PDP, has rejected the nationwide Operation Python Dance, it will be interesting to see how Murray-Bruce’s ‘Common Sense’ would convolute it in the bid to politicize a pressing national need.
Perhaps it is that position that will finally convince Nigerians that some aspect of the intractable terrorists’ problem Nigeria is having is tied to the likes of this senator and his party that are bent on supporting Boko Haram for their dark motives. It is what will prove to us that while he alleges misplaced priority on the part of the president, he also does not want the implementation of any steps that will crush Boko Haram.
The senator’s nostalgia is understandable. He continues to have visions of four years ago when elections had to be shifted in order to recover Nigerian territories back from terrorists that had hoisted their flags over towns and villages. That period was a cover to loot the country on an epic scale.
In the faith that Murray-Bruce practices, this is equated with desiring to return to Egypt, a reference to the children of Israel wanting to return into slavery instead of facing the difficult task of navigating hardship to arrive at the Promised Land. Egypt guarantees free food under slavery similar to the seemingly free money that was available under the PDP’s rule but under which Nigerians were slaves to corruption.
This return to Egypt is what Senator Ben Murray-Bruce is campaigning for. It is what is making him wish for Boko Haram to overrun parts of Nigeria so that his party can campaign with that. But even though he is desperately wishing to return the PDP to the position of a looting party it does not justify posting irresponsible updates on social media. It does not justify abusing his position to promote hate speech and divisive comments. If this is what Murray-Bruce and his co-travellers are trying to return Nigeria to then it is not worth it.
Agbese wrote from the United Kingdom.