You Don’t Need an Office to be Great

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MAKING COMMON SENSE By Ben MurrayBruce, email:  ben.murraybruce@thisdaylive.com

The office or position a man has is not as important as the man holding an office or position. No office can make you great if you are not yourself great. This is the lesson we learn from Donald Trump’s ascendancy. Everybody who was anybody in the establishment thought that Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump because she had held several offices and because she was more mainstream that Trump. Moreover, she was backed by a popular incumbent president and had an almost infinite amount of funds to promote her candidacy.

But she and the rest of the world did not count on the phenomena that Donald Trump was.
Trump did and does not need an office to be great. He is great enough just by being himself and through what he has accomplished without having access to public office.

Without having been ever elected once, he was already a household name in America and a name that commanded influence. His natural instincts for things is frequently more accurate than the opinions of experts though at the beginning it may seem controversial. And we are seeing a similar thing happening in Nigeria right under our noses. Without an office or any type of formal authority, former President Goodluck Jonathan is turning out to be one of the most popular, if not the most popular politician in Nigeria and perhaps Africa.

Like Trump, the more the present administration unleashes its media hound dogs to sully his reputation with odious tales of corruption the more his profile and popularity continues to rise. As the senator representing the former president, I sometimes find myself going to his facebook and Twitter profiles and I tell you authoritatively that Nigerians have turned his profiles to a shrine for praise and hero worship! And one would think that this phenomenon would be restricted to persons of southern origin, but no. The amount of persons from the north who wax poetic on his profile is more than surprising. I urge you to go there and confirm what I am saying.

The fact is that as at today, the absence of any office or position has had no negative impact on the popularity of former President Jonathan. On the 20th of November, 2016 which was his birthday, Dr. Jonathan virtually broke the Internet. He was the trending subject on that day. Yet he took out no full page advertorials and asked his associates to refrain from doing so.

The only other politician who has been able to achieve a similar feat to the best of my knowledge is General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida whose popularity initially nosedived after June 12, 1993 but steadily picked up in the years after General Sani Abacha’s death.

Look at the tumultuous crowd that came to welcome the former leader at Sokoto when he went to condone with the family of the late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki. That type of turnout is unprecedented for a non election year. And not only did Sokoto people turn out in large numbers to welcome the Face of Democracy in Africa, they bore large banners saying ‘Come Back Baba Jonathan!’

And then somebody somewhere said the crowd was rented! Whoever said that does not understand what is going on in present day Nigeria. No rented crowd will come out carrying such banners in the full glare of riot policemen knowing that anything could happen and human life is too precious. No! That was pure unadulterated love from Sokoto to Otuoke!

The fact remains that Nigerians have now been married by two husbands and they can tell which is the better of the two!

Other than Nigeria, I cannot imagine another nation that will devalue its currency, increase fuel price and electricity tariffs and yet leave its minimum wage the same! Jonathan did not do that. Before he partially removed the subsidy on petrol on January 1, 2012, he had increased the minimum wage of the Nigerian worker. That is a humane leader. A leader that cares.

Under former President Jonathan, the minimum wage of N18,000 could get you $120 or two and a half bags of rice or pay your electricity bill for a year. Today, the same amount can only get you $42 and is not enough for even one bag of rice. Nigerians now feel shortchanged by change. But the worst is the constant blaming and whining.

Leaders have no right to blame others. Blaming is only for those who lack power to change things not for those voted into power to change things! An opposition party can blame, but when they become the ruling party they lose the prerogative to blame and take the initiative to fix. Sometimes I say to myself, if only Nigerian politicians prepare for governance the way they prepare for elections we would have had the best government in the world!

But back to former President Jonathan. I sincerely believe that any further action by the present administration in any direction seen as persecuting Dr. Jonathan would only just increase his popularity to levels of sainthood. The song and dance of blame-it-all-on-Jonathan was okay for a while, but after about six months into the life of the song, hunger began to remove the scales from the eyes of Nigerians. Hunger is a great motivator and recession is no respecter of tribe, religion or region.

The Democrats took White working class Americans for granted but Trump did not and though the mainstream media and everybody else were telling Hillary how popular she was, she and her party could not believe it when hurricane Trump swept them off their feet.

Let our leaders learn from America and put their acts together. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is not the reason why the present government has not succeeded. Rather the Buhari administration has not succeeded because its focus is on taking down Jonathan rather than taking itself up. Taking someone down can be a very risky venture because the only way to take someone down is to go down with them!

Like Trump Like Obasanjo

On the morning of Saturday the 20th of February, 2016, I was having breakfast at Eko Hotel with a friend of mine, Reno Omokri, and one of the top Democratic Party strategists in the US and an argument ensued. Omokri said Trump would go all the way while the American said he was not going anywhere. I joined the conversation by saying that Trump is a phenomenon and no one knows how far he will go.

Today, I sit here writing this piece pleasantly stunned that what the mainstream media, what the establishment and what the powers that be said could never happen has happened due to this phenomenal man’s belief in himself when others did not believe in him. I have met Trump one on one before and what I clearly remember about him is that he is a White and younger version of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The two of them can be brash and outspoken but they always seem to come out on top by some sort of divine arrangement that makes whatever they do turn out for the best even if it began with controversy.

More similarities between the duo is that they both undeniably have an insatiable taste for women and beautiful ones at that! Then again, they are both men who have succeeded in business and, even though they were political outsiders, they extended their business success to politics. And even though there is a lot of anxiety in the Black world and especially Nigeria, I believe that a Trump presidency would be better for Africa and Nigeria than a Hillary administration.

For one, Boko Haram are now afraid. Very afraid! This is a man that is not afraid to use the word radical Islamic terror and to declare to all who care to listen that he will be their nemesis. Nigeria needs such a partner!

We are spending way too much of our resources on fighting terrorists. We need a big strong hand to help us fight them. A hand that will not be afraid to sell us weapons and will not make us grovel before it is willing to help us destroy our enemies who want to destroy us.

But secondly and very importantly, Nigeria is an oil producing nation and though I believe that it is what is between the ears of our people that will make this nation great, we still need foreign exchange and Hillary’s plans for alternative energy was not going to see the price of oil go up anytime soon. But Trump won in Texas because the oil industry knows that they have a friend in him, and any friend of Texas big oil is a friend of Nigeria.

And forget about all that talk about immigration reform. Trump will not stop Nigerians from entering the US. The US needs Nigerians more than Nigerians need the US. Without Nigerian healthcare professionals, the US health industry would collapse overnight. Neither Trump or Hillary wanted that. Trump’s rhetoric was directed more at Mexican immigrants because of the immediate threat posed to the US by illegal immigration from Mexico.

Having said that let me add that the last similarity between Trump and former President Obasanjo is that they both look not very intelligent, but their looks betray their vast knowledge and deep wisdom. You meet them and size them up by their looks and end up underestimating them.

But when they reach into their reptilian brain and come out with strategies it becomes too late to do what you should have done. I am glad that Trump won and I cannot wait to see how he will change the world positively. But one thing is clear, any politician who underestimates the role of social media in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people is a politician that is going the way of the dinosaurs. Social media and particularly Twitter was the weapon Trump used to fight the mainstream media. Social media is the ultimate form of democracy in that it gives the underdog a vehicle to amplify his or her voice against a biased media that wants to suppress it.

• Murray-Bruce is the founder of the Silverbird Entertainment Group and the senator representing Bayelsa East