ben bruce

By Ahaoma Kanu

When he took the stage, something in me tingled; the feeling sent a kind of cold, that shiver you get when a good thing is about to happen. He is one media practitioner that I have admired for his resilience and belief in Nigeria must work. He cut a figure of Obama and gesticulated just he does.

Wait a minute, am I seeing a Nigeria version of Obama on stage and he is from my fatherland. He started, reeling out the ills abundant in the country, in the leadership, in the manner in which elected officers live like Lords of the Manor.

He quoted statistics on the volume of expenditure spent on government while the masses groaned in poverty. He enumerated the dangers inherent in that kind of a system: a system that denies the youths jobs; a system that subjects its citizens to living under $2 a day; a system where the budget of the country in no way reflects on the lives of the people. He kept a straight face, just like Obama, he looked straight and damn serious that the feeling kept increasing in tempo; the little voice inside me saying, Yes He can.

He went on, never waiting to be applauded by the audience- he needed to make them understand the journey ahead was a serious work; herculean but needing men of will, a will to change; a will to say no to the hefty salaries the parliamantarians were collected in both chambers of the National Assembly; a dome was described by a fierce lawyer as being one of corruption.

For the first time that evening, I smiled. For once, I thought, we have got it right. I listened closely, the future already playing out in full HD; of the Senator-elect exposing corrupt acts in the Senate; of him pushing for bills that will affect that child at Abakaliki, in Gboko, Modakeke, Kafanchan and Lantang. A new season is about to premier in Abuja I said to myself with a confidence that I only feel when I get to my door and walk in.

This senator-elect exhumed hope and gave it a fresh breath of life with his passion, his action and body language. “If the states in Nigeria are companies, they would have filed for bankruptcy,” he said, an damn right he was.

I started gathering my belongings- it would be a long drive home but I wasn’t bothered, the senator-elect had given me a gift so precious; a hope so treasured. When he mentioned he has never flown first class in his entire life and also patronizes Nigeria, I knew he was among the 12 that would deliver on a new legislature.

Then, he threw a challenge- to one of the recipients that night-the one that manufactures indigenous vehicles in Nigeria. He gave him a task, “build me a car for the future, I don’t want to visit a fuel station again. Where is the key to my car?” He asked, just like Obama who told Americans to invest in technology and science. “Aha,” I said, he has words and wants action. I called it an evening, a memorable one at that.

“I told KIA to bring me an electric car.” Someone said that-a familiar voice said that-it was the Senator-elect. I froze, KIA- that aint Nigerian- that aint Believe Nigeria-that aint no hope.

I turned around to see make sure he was the man that said that and yes, it was him- Senator-elect, Ben Murray Bruce.

I watched him finish off, just like Obama, he talked just like Obama and walked off in that swagger only Obama has. But he was not going back to his seat- he went to a brand new KIA Soul vehicle and drove it to the stage and, trust Nigerians, all the dignitaries that came for the Silverbird Man of the Year 2014 moved closer to behold the wonder car.

Suddenly the whole hall went dark and the sounds from the speakers overwhelmed the entire place. The big screen showed a commercial, about the electric car. The lead and lone actor was of course the senator-elect-but this time he was wearing sunglasses, just like Obama and advertised the vehicle, the electric car- No, the KIA electric car. He did not advertise the Made-in-Nigeria car parked at that same podium.

He talked about the car and some $100 bill he will push in the senate. Then I knew it- he never had us in mind; he may never push bills that would touch that child in Sabongiri or Ota or even Sagbama. He was keen about business-with KIA and who knows the others.

I shook my head and instantly it dawned on me that all that Obama-like speech was just what it is- a great speech, the same dummy being sold to us since amalgamation. I watched him discussing with the dignitaries around the electric car, his real self came alive at that moment-Ben the business man. I knew at that instant he will end up like all of them; those who never care for the other person than their business and bank balance.

The shiver of expectation was replaced by some sweat which I am so familiar with- perspiration of failed promises.



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