Nigeria Is Too Poor For Our Leaders To Act Like Multi-Billionaires

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ben bruceAll my life, I have always been attracted to public services for the right reasons but first of all, let me thank all of the recipients here today, politicians, business men, those of you who have accomplish great thing for this nation.

When I decided to run for this office, I decided to run for the right reason I was concern about the poverty in the land, inability of government, Federal, States, Local Government to function at the level we ought to. In seeking public office, I look at National budget, State and Local Government budget.

I try to understand why Nigeria wasn’t developed as it ought to be and what I saw was shocking and very alarming. Those of us on the private sector understand how we ought to run a company and things we should and shouldn’t do.

Looking at the federal budget, a couple of things shocked me up, for instance, 1% of the national budget is spent on pilgrimages for the Muslims and Christians.

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3% of the national budget is spent on the National Assembly of 469 people, 39% of the National Budget is spend on 1.2 million Civil Servants, 88% of the National Budget is spent on Current Expenditure and only 12% is spent on Capital Expenditure.

State Governments have no money, outside I was talking to the Ekiti State Governor, and he cannot pay salaries, forget about capital developments and debts he inherited, most states in the country today, if they were a company, they would file for bankruptcy and no company would loan them money, the Federal Government inclusive.

To say we are broke is and understatement, a few thing must happen, we must grow the economy and we must shrink the way we spend money. The problem about Nigeria is not about the north and the south, Christianity and Islam, it’s not about APC versus PDP, the problem about Nigeria is right versus wrong.

Today I was interviewed by Bloomberg Magazine the other day, and they asked me about the problem in the North-East versus the South-South, and I said to him, the issues in the North East, is not about religion and the issue in the south is not about what you think it is, the issue is very simple.

We have a small minority of people, the leadership in Nigeria, consuming all the resources in our nation and leaving the rest of us in abject poverty that cannot work we must learn to be humble we must learn to conserve what we have, and we must learn to be kind enough on the rest of us to have enough food to eat, children to go to school, healthcare facilities for everyone, education, job, infrastructural development for our people the population control policy, 170 million people, most us leave on USD2 a day, not enough money to survive.

And yet we get angry when we get robbed, we don’t understand why a young kid has access to AK47, a grenade, a bomb making it possible for them to get gun and kill us because we don’t look after them.

We pay no attention to the least of us and our response is to live in building with high-wired fences, buy bullet proof cars, have more guards and high proportions of police protecting us and not the poor that cannot work, we must understand that we must all grow and develop together as a people anyone you leave behind, you create a problem for the rest of us.

It’s not enough for you to send your children to school in Switzerland, buy your houses in Dubai, live a life of extreme wealth and don’t expect those you leave behind to want to take you out.

The young people, belong to what I call the MTV generation you think you are smart, that your lifestyle is not being watched by those you govern when you seek public office you seek the office to lead by example, you did not seek the office to be the lord over the people who voted you into the office.

Poverty is everywhere, poverty breeds anger, hunger and anger breed violence and in the end we cannot control it. We must be conscious of the people we lead it is not enough to make great speeches.

I see politicians, on TV, on special occasion they say let us pray, maybe some of them are not familiar with the concept of prayer you pray for the food you about to receive, not the food you eat all by yourself we need change, the world has changed, and we must change.

Not just about change but the real deal, here and now,  and for us to change we must understand what drives our people there too much hunger in our land, so I am gonna make a deal, as your Senator, I ran for office for all people not just Bayelsa East because we have crises on our hand, let’s make a deal, let say for instance, for example, to reduce the expenditure only the Government and Vice President flies First Class, Minister fly Business Class everybody else fly economic when you travel abroad, you don’t stay in a USD4000 hotel, paid for by taxes.

I run a business, we employ thousands of people, I’ve never stayed in a hotel more than USD300 in my life, not because I can’t afford to but when I think at the end of the month, I must make payroll, I must pay taxes.

How can I justify staying in a USD4000 hotel? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never flown first class in my life ever as a young man I flew the Nigerians airways, then I flew Virgin Nigeria, now I flew Arik. I do so on purpose I have a choice, I choose to fly my carries because it’s the right thing to do.

You cannot seat here and talk about nationalism and patriotism, and when the lights are turned-off you spend 1.5 million Naira going to London that could feed a whole family for a whole year.

You drink bottle of Champagne that could educate child, it make no sense the problem in Nigeria is versus the rich and the poor. The crises we have is a class warfare, let me say this, and have said it for thirty five years, if we don’t control our consumption behaviour this young kids, they may not be able to read and write, but they have access to the internet, they know how to make a bomb, they know how to make a grenade, they know where to find a gun, they know how to pull the trigger and when they get hungry and angry, you become the victim, you don’t have enough money to hide or run, you will be caught and you will die.

So let me say this the world has change, but we have not changed.

When we go abroad, we go look for aid, we go to Congress, British Parliament, the man we speak to might colleagues , they go to work by bus, they come to work by train, by taxi, when we go in there representing the Federal Government of Nigeria, we go on a Private Jet we wear a million dollar watch, our women carry a hundred thousand dollar bag and they look at us and they say, you represent the poor people, I see on TV poor people, the hunger, but you come here representing with a million dollar watch. How do you think we look?

We look like we don’t have no conscience, we have no conscience. What are the qualifications in public offices? School Certificate, what do University teach us about compassion we must care about the least of us, if we don’t pay the ultimate price: death and destruction.

Mr. Gani you said to me you listened to my speeches and you would hold me accountable, I urge you to hold me accountable, when I go to the National Assembly, I will represent the least of us, I will raise my voice, I will speak about the issues, damn the consequences, I will speak about the issues.

We are poor country, Nigeria is too poor for our leaders to act like multi-billionaires, and Nigeria is too rich for our people to be so poor.

We need to find a way out, we must find a way out of this predicament, we don’t have a population control policy babies making babies is not the solution to our problem and we must focus on technology.

Innocent (the founder of the innocent cars Nigeria) you build a car factory, you make cars but am gonna make a challenge to you right now, I want you to make a car for the future. I wanna show you a car, the car is driven by one battery, I don’t like what is happening to the power sector, to the petroleum sector, I do not wish to buy petrol anymore in my life ever, again.

I wanna drive a car powered by the sun, the sun is free. I asked KIA motors to bring electric cars to this country the reason driving electric car is because we need to be free.

In the Senate, am gonna create a bill for a billion dollars so very poor home in this country will have a Solar Power every poor Nigerian family, and I need our support, if my colleagues say no you tell them yes, I want you to tell my colleagues to create a billion dollar fund.

We will have Solar Power and inverters in every home in Nigeria, so every child can do the homework with light, watch TV, listen to radio we will create 50,000 jobs a state,  after the Solar panel is installed, we will charge every home 1000 Naira so this 50,000 kids can service the equipment.

Innocent, am gonna drive the car over here, I want the government to see my car, as a Senator it is a small car, but it’s a KIA, that’s OK because I know you.

I heard your speech you didn’t say much, but what you said meant a lot to me, you make cars, you make motorcycles, you are one of the greatest Nigerians I know today because of what you have accomplished.

I want all of you to know this, we have a choice, as a Nigerian and as a politician, you either a producer or you’re a consumer, consumption leads to fatness, production leads to freedom and I wanna be free.

Thank you very much.

Hon. Sen-Elect Mr. Ben Murray Bruce Chairman of SilverBird Group is the Senator-Elect representing Bayelsa East and will assume of office for the first time come May 29th 2015. He gave this speech at the recent SilverBird Man of the Year Awards.

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