Change Gladiators – Part 2
BEN MURRAY-BRUCE: A Senator With Common Sense!
“Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Don’t fall for the lie that one man cannot make a difference. All powerful movements began with the actions of individuals striving for change. The basic prerequisite for change is just one man! Through the audacity of one woman, Rosa Parks, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights”, the war against black segregation in America was triggered. Through one man’s tenacity, Thomas Edison, the light bulb was birthed and the whole world bid farewell to ‘physical darkness’. Through one man, Nelson Mandela, apartheid was terminated in South Africa. Through one man’s dream, Martin Luther King Jr., the salvage treatment of people due to their skin colour was abolished. Through one man, John F. Kennedy, the Americans took the lead in landing a man on the moon. Through one woman, Mother Teresa, the whole of Calcutta in India saw a great light. Through one woman, Mary Slessor, the eastern part of Nigeria was delivered from the brutal death of twins. Through one woman, Helen Keller, God gave great hope to all deaf, dumb and blind. God doesn’t need the ‘recalcitrant many’ to make a change; He is always on the lookout for just one man!
The landing of a man on the moon in 1969 was inspired by one man. One of the most famous inaugural speeches was given by the former President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy. The President stood before the United States congress on May 25, 1961 and delivered a speech that drove the Americans beyond the zone of complacency; a line from his speech read thus: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”. JFK was a daring leader; his courage alone gave the Americans the momentum needed to land a man on the moon. King Philip of Ancient Macedonia, the father of the courageous Alexander the Great emphasized the critical role of a leader in the advancement of a nation when he said in one of his famous quotes; “An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of Lions led by a deer”. In 1961, President Kennedy’s vision was just about the wildest dream imaginable. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, America was in a space race with the Soviet Union, and the Americans were actually lagging behind. USSR was the first to launch a satellite, Sputnik, into the orbit, and then they launched Sputnik II, which carried the first space traveller, Laika, the dog. And in 1959, they sent off Luna I, the first space craft to escape the earth’s gravitational field and fly by the moon. The Soviets also sent the first man into space, and one of their ships made the first orbit of the earth. None of these feats was awe-inspiring like landing a man on the moon.
President John F. Kennedy stood before the United States Congress and said he foresaw a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Most people thought it was impossible. Even some of the people running NASA thought it could not be done. People believed that the technology required did not exist and they were not sure that it could exist. Despite all the ridicules and contagious skepticism, JFK went ahead to put their doubts to the test and initiated a mission that would later put his name among the ‘immortals’. Despite all the doubts, on July 16, 1969, Apollo II lifted off from Pad 39 at Kennedy Space Center and began its journey of 244,930 miles to the moon. Four days later (July 20, 1969), Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr. landed the Lunar module Eagle on the surface of the moon, and over 500 million people watched on the television as Armstrong took his first step on the moon and uttered his famous line, “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” America had achieved the impossible and that is why till today, it is called the land of possibilities. People thought it was Armstrong that took the first step on the moon; physically, they may be right, but the first man on the moon was actually President Kennedy, he was there mentally before anybody else! Armstrong would not have stepped on the moon if Kennedy had not made the first mental step. The Americans were able to achieve the unimaginable because of one man’s step. JFK showed the world that there is no impossible goal but unwilling steps.
Ben Murray-Bruce is a Nigerian business magnate, serial entrepreneur, and erudite politician. He is the founder of Silverbird Group, a diversified multi-media company with holdings in Radio, TV, real estate and Cinemas. He is also a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing the Bayelsa East Constituency. The Silverbird Group was founded in 1980 and the company has placed Nigeria in the mainstream of the entertainment industry. He served as Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) from 1999 to 2003. He has been the brain behind the promotion of the Miss Universe Nigeria Pageant, Miss Intercontinental pageant and the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Pageant. Silverbird’s Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) brand produced the first and only black Africa Miss World in 2001; Agbani Darego won the Miss World Contest and became the first ever Nigerian and African to win the Miss World Pageant.
It is amazing to see a noble man navigating through the murky waters of Nigerian politics but it is more amazing when he has succeeded in maintaining his sanity and nobility in a country where people join politics for the wrong reasons. Paulo Coelho once said, “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” In an era when politics is played by political fugitives and outlaws and when so many politicians believe that politics is an avenue for self-aggrandizement, flagrant and ostentatious display of wealth; one man stood out to redefine the essence of holding political offices. He has consistently encouraged frugal spending in ‘high places’ and has been an agent of change in the campaign against the over bogus allocation to Federal and state legislatures to the detriment of national growth. He has fought against the unnecessary suffering of civil servants and their exploitation; he is campaigning aggressively through his actions and exemplary lifestyles for the support of our local brands and patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods.
The man that I have decided to refer to as the ‘Common sense senator’ is a blend of unique attitude and ‘strange’ mentality. His firm belief in the Nigeria project is beyond psychological redemption and political pollution. He is undoubtedly an ‘outlier’ and divergent among Federal legislatures and has chosen to tread uncommon paths to engineer the re-designing of a new Nigeria. His #BuyNaijaToGrowThe naira initiative has really been a lifebuoy initiative to save the Nigerian naira from further deterioration and devaluation; he recently took delivery of his made-in-Nigeria cars from the first indigenous car manufacturers in Nigeria, Innoson Motors. He has at various fora campaigned aggressively for youth empowerment and the need to prioritize the ministry of youths, a ministry that has always been abused by appointed misfits and politicians that were never in tandem with the hopes, needs and ‘language’ of the teeming Nigerian youths.
In his recent book that I greatly recommend for every responsible mind; A COMMONSENSE REVOLUTION, which was launched and presented on February 19, 2016 at Eko Hotels and Suite, the ‘Common Sense’ Senator succinctly and painstakingly chronicled the origin of our deteriorated sense of value, examines the erosion of the Nigerian society, emphasized the decline of individual responsibility and offers hope in the prospect of a culture of renewed character. It is a book written to put Nigerians in the right perspective as change agents.
I want to categorically say at this juncture that without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. Our over dependent attitude on the Nigerian oil has been an ‘anathema’ to the Nigerian naira. Our dependency on oil has killed a lot of novel initiatives and ideas; we need change gladiators and not spectators in order to redesign a new Nigeria. We must rearrange our priorities because to change your life, you need to change your priorities. We have to be resolute and firm in our shift towards diversifying the economy. In order to stabilize the growth of this great country, we need to plan and design a future that is beyond the Nigerian oil. The debilitating effect of blatant dependency on oil has paralyzed and destructively polarized the Nigerian economy. Our dependency on oil has turned Nigeria into gangster’s paradise by rewarding political miscreants and social touts ahead of people with great intellectual value. We need leaders that can see beyond the ‘mirage’ of the Nigerian oil. We are in great need of leaders that will provide a platform for the diversification of the economy. We need leaders with common sense!
If there is anything that must never be underestimated, it is the power of ‘one’! I am reaching out to the youths, to join the revolutionary march for the evolution of a new Nigeria. And to those outside there that can only see the bleak future of this great nation, I am assuring you that this nation will shine, even brighter than you can ever imagine.