15 October 2018
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who represents Bayelsa East for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and widely derided as the “Senator for Twitter” because of his prodigious tweeting, likes to style himself as the “Common sense senator”.
Lately, he has been acting as a campaign chief for Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, who picked former Anambra State governor Peter Obi as his running mate last week.
Murray-Bruce tweeted yesterday:
What is this silliness I am reading about Anambra producing too many Vice Presidents and other SE states deserve it more? ALL the Presidents and Vice Presidents the SW has produced have come from Ogun State, yet the Yoruba united behind them. Some people should learn from this.
— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce) October 14, 2018
There are various levels of daftness here and shockingly poor reasoning for a federal lawmaker. Firstly, who are the people that said Obi shouldn’t be the vice president because he is from Anambra? It would have helped to mention where he heard it and who he heard it from, in order to whether those people had any credibility or were representative of any group of people.
Secondly, the “SW” – Southwest and predominantly Yoruba – were not united behind President Olusegu Obasanjo, who is from Ogun State. In 1999, Olu Falae, also from that region, ran against Obasanjo and won an overwhelming majority of the votes in their home region. Since 1999, Bola Tinubu, the powerful two-term governor of Lagos State has been at daggers drawn with Obasanjo. Nobel Literature laureate Wole Soyinka, also from Ogun State, has spent nearly an entire lifetime criticising Obasanjo. So the idea of the “SW” uniting behind a Yoruba president exists only in Murray-Bruce’s imagination.
Finally, there’s no reason why Igbos should fall in line behind Obi like sheep. Telling Igbos what to “learn from” is insulting and patronising. And even worse when what Murray-Bruce is saying they should learn from is a fantasy. Instructing Igbos on who to support is insulting their collective intelligence and the suggestion that they should support Obi simply because he is Igbo flies against democratic principles. Support should be based on ideas, competence, and so on. There are many question marks against Obi on those critical issues that voters need to consider before making an informed choice.
The late historian Yusufu Bala Usman wrote: “Contrary to what some Nigerian politicians and journalists, many of whom who claim to be pro-democracy, think, family, clan, ethnic and religious affinities and ties, cannot be the basis of the representation of any citizens or, groups of citizens, in a democracy. Democratic representation is solely derived from the exercise by the citizens of the freedom of political association with all other citizens in the country and the exercise of the freedom of political choice between alternative candidates and parties. In a democracy, nobody can represent his kinsmen, simply because they are his kinsmen. His kinsmen can only be democratically represented when they can freely associate with, or, refuse to associate with him, and associate with a complete stranger; elect him, or, refuse to elect him, and elect a complete stranger.”
Murray-Bruce, with his tweet demonstrated that he really doesn’t understand what “democracy” means, neither does he have much common sense. Hopefully, Igbos should ignore demagogues like him that are trying to lecture them, from a position of self-interest, and make their choices on the basis of what the candidates have to offer and not where they come from.