Ben Bruce: Once upon a Don Quixote

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BEN BRUCE has spent a long time in the make believe world of show business. I recall how he used to promote shows by American musicians during the 1980s; he made some cool money as groups like Shalamar strut the stage of the National Theatre at Iganmu in Lagos. Students from the University of Lagos used to pack the shows!

Then the man’s Silverbird Productions expanded in other directions, just as Ben himself would reap political capital after the 1999 transition, when he warmed his way into the inner recesses of power under Obasanjo, to become Director-General of NTA! Several useful contracts of expansion of NTA later, the man moved on, opening cinema halls; running radio and television stations. Ben Bruce is the successful impresario and media mogul, rolled up into one!

And if one felt it ended there, we are underrating the dandy, because so well loved is Ben Bruce, that he has won his senatorial election recently and has become one of the newly minted senators hoping to take Abuja by storm: huge salaries, allowances, oversight buck and other ‘dividends of democracy’ in tow! But wait a minute! Ben Bruce is not only coming into town, he is doing so in style. The man is the latter day DON QUIXOTE! And he is mounting the steed, ROCINANTE into town, to fight the elite!

Last week, Ben Bruce was quoted as saying that he is fighting the elite, because “they” consume the resources of the country at the expense of the poor: “I am fighting against the elite. Definitely, I am fighting them. When they drink that champagne that can educate a child, they should know that I am fighting them. You don’t fly first class in government while in your private life, you fly economy. I am totally against their lifestyles”, Ben Bruce was quoted in a Vanguard interview.

I think we should all rise and give our good old impresario a standing ovation. Or maybe, we should wait to ask appropriate questions first. As DG NTA, did Ben Bruce fly economy?

Or was he then a member of the “elite” and only just getting his conversion as one “who is known to champion the cause of the masses”, as the report described him? Does Ben Bruce not drink champagne? Or as a man of the masses, he stays close to them by quaffing “Sapele Water”? I am just curious! And what about the heavy remuneration that befits a Nigerian Senator? What will our latter-day Don Quixote do?

Will he tilt against the windmills of Senatorial emoluments kicking up a huge storm as he charges stoically, mounted on Rocinante, good old Rocinante? And perchance, if there is any injury as he discovers, just as Don Quixote did, that the windmill wasn’t a monster, will there be a wonderful lady, Dulcinea del Toboso, to help nurse our latter-day Don Quixote back to health?

Political society is not likely to accept an over zealous titling at windmills, but we will keep monitoring Ben Bruce’s latter day Don Quixote adventures.

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