Onyeka Nwelue: An Open Letter to Senator Ben Murray-Bruce

Onyeka Nwelue: An Open Letter to Senator Ben Murray-Bruce [The Trent Voices]

Senator Ben Murray Bruce

Your Excellency, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce,

My name is Onyeka Nwelue. We met in 2011 for the first time, at the Pent, Eko Hotel. It was all dramatized by MTV and MTN. They invited some of us young people and gave us scripts and filmed it and showed it to the world.

2011 was a great year for me. It was when I had the rare opportunity of meeting you.  I was overly excited. I could see my life changing. I had dreams, a day before we met, that I would learn many things from you that would turn my life around. That meeting was the MTV Meets MTN with Ben Bruce. The video can be found online here: http://vimeo.com/54686313. I met you, my dearest Sir, and it was underwhelming, to say the least. It was a lot like visiting the Dalai Lama and expecting to meet the most charismatic man in the world, and then meeting a small town snake oil salesman in his stead. No offense meant, Sir; I am a writer, you see, and I have to use these metaphors.

I expected that meeting you will be a life-changing moment, but it wasn’t. I do not know if I should blame you for this. But if I don’t blame you, who do I blame?

Onyeka Nwelue (second from left) and Senator Ben-Murray Bruce (middle) in 2011 (Photo Credit: Onyeka Nwelue)
Onyeka Nwelue (second from left) and Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (middle) in 2011 (Photo Credit: Onyeka Nwelue)

We were given scripts. We were told what to ask you by the MTV crew. It happened that, at the end of the day, some of us ‘actors’ didn’t use the scripts. We were about 6 ‘young’ entrepreneurs who were going to learn one or two things from you, Sir. I can assure you that I did not learn one thing from you, because you were very distant. You were not real to me, to any of us. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Let me go straight to the point. I don’t know if any of us ever got to really learn from you after that interview. We thought we would. We hoped we would. We were so excited to be meeting the great Ben Murray Bruce who would bless us with nuggets of wisdom to inspire us to go on to become juggernauts in our own right. But no. I did not learn anything. I hope that someday, I would. You will come down to the human level and say the truth and be real.

Everything you said that day was all lies. I know, because I looked into your eyes, and my God, it was so obvious. I also saw it from the way you talked down on us. The way you talked down on everyone. You are a practiced liar. Such unflinching condescension can only be achieved with repeated practice. These days, when I see you on TV, like when you launched the electric car, sounding smart and talking brilliantly, I shake my head and say, “This man and his sweet tongue. No one should listen to him.”

 You are a smart man. You can sweet-talk people into believing in everything you say. You are more brilliant than any of the Senators in the Senate. I know that you know this. This would be a good thing if you were a good man. But your brilliance is all for your capitalist mind. Everything you are fighting for is to favour yourself alone. You are a bag of contradictions. I am not trying to run you down. That, I cannot do, because as I have earlier alluded to, you’re a juggernaut. But this is for young people who have started buying into your tactics, so that they can be very careful. I have met you. I have interacted with you and I know you are good at building armies of loyal followers. I just want your followers to know what they are following.

Onyeka Nwelue
Onyeka Nwelue

While we interviewed you, sir, I asked you when you would write your autobiography, so we would learn from you. You never answered. You will never answer a question directly. If asked your age, you would not say it without giving a background history. You speak well. You know you do. But that is where it all ends. All fluff and no substance. You would be an amazing actor. Everything you do is for show. You live for entertainment. You capitalize on the sensibility of many Nigerians. I would have been immensely surprised if you didn’t win the Senatorial seat of your zone. Who can ignore such an exceptional showman as you?

You told us a story: how you met the Jacksons. It was so easy for you, you said. You called and they asked you to come over. So I asked if it would be equally easy to get to you. Oh, yes, you were so smart to say yes. I asked for your contact and you asked your assistant to give me a number that was for someone else; someone who kept asking me to say what I wanted, that it would be delivered to Mr. Bruce.

Your shrewdness has been continuously shown since you became a Senator. You say now that you don’t fly a First Class when you’re travelling; the next minute, you’re seated in a First Class section of a flight. You talk so much about young people taking charge of this and that; your children are studying in the best universities in America. People like you who keep talking about emancipation and financial freedom are the ones holding the world down.

My anger is not that you gave me another number to call. My anger is that you looked down on me. You’re the kind of man who doesn’t really care. I have met wealthy and successful people, but you’re the only one I met that never impressed me or never attempted to address any negative perceptions about him. What I was told about you is what I found. Very stark! You are not apologetic about it, because you keep using your medium, STV, to push your personal propaganda and trying to push yourself to people as a purist. If this works, then I will believe that young people in Nigeria can be easily deceived. The deceptions applied by politicians have been glorified by your approach towards the exigency of penury. You understand the mentality of the poor. You understand the human predicament. You understand our psyche. You go use us well well!

I don’t want to continue. Just CHANGE, Mr. Bruce, now that you want to make COMMON SENSE and be realistic with all those ideals. Recently you started waxing lyrical on Twitter, saying all the right things and winning a lot of new supporters. The words were so sweet that I was almost taken in myself. But no, I know you, Mr. Bruce. You are cunning. I do not know what you aim to achieve by coming on Twitter to make all those plenty promises. But they say this is the era of change and anything is possible. If it is possible for you to change, and finally make good on a promise, any promise at all, I will shut up and retire to my home and never say anything bad about anybody again, ever. And I will write you a beautiful letter and praise you.

I know this is not possible, but I watch you with crossed fingers.

Thank you very much for reading this, but don’t reply.


 Onyeka Nwelue

Onyeka Nwelue is an Assistant Professor of African Literature and Studies at the University of Manipur, Imphal and Visiting Lecturer of African Studies at the University of Hong Kong. He is currently on the Jury of the Woodpecker International Film Festival in India and his latest book is Hip-Hop is Only for Children

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


  1. I really like this article. It is not disrespectful. It has facts. I continously pray for Nigerian youth. This social media era is the worst because everyone is so exposed, and without discernment can easily follow any wind of doctrine… espeacially the very subtle ones. Thanks for this, writer

    • Facts? Really. I expected so much more to come out from my reading but I was disappointed. You accused Bruce of being more fluff than substance but you’re also guilty of same with what you’ve written. You’ve based this declaration of yours solely on the ability of your perception – to identify someone who is not straightforward through unspoken nuances. How fault-proof is that? So, because he was distant to you, that leads to a conclusion that he’s not a man of his words? Does everyone have to be receptive to receiving calls from ‘strangers’? Imagine if he gave every eager youth he met his number, he will have to ‘close shop’ and become a call centre agent.

      This letter is based on irrelevant grounds. Permit me to tell you my perception of you from having ‘met’ you on Facebook. I found you arrogant, a person trying to be popular by being intentionally controversial and a wanna-be (that’s why you will introduce yourself as an assistant professor without having a first degree. I wonder for how long you want to bask in the glory from Asia and not do the needful, get a formal education). Reading this, do you feel I’m correct or I don’t just know you at all? I hope you see the limitations of personal perception now?

      Do I think Bruce is perfect? Of course not! But neither are you Onyeka! Not too long ago I read a fawning article you wrote about Linda and your ‘objective’ mind at the time was blind to the mediocrity of her trade – a reason why a platform like Bellanaija will always be more dignified. I digress, but I enjoin you to love who you will love but don’t sound like a sanctimonious prophet of our time. Thanks.

      P.S: get your facts right – the picture circulated of Bruce showed him flying business class not first class. And it was a picture taken before he had made his statement.

      • my Brother don’t be fooled how many youths has Ben Bruse empowered I always know he abuses his platform silver bird Tv .words are better said than done he should lean from people like the leader of Indigenous people of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu who practice all he says and he should stop destroying the lives of those Nigerian youths who lacks the sense of thinking and articulating like human for his political reasons. by their fruits we shall know them.

  2. the letter reflects my thoughts on this man albeit in a clearly elaborated manner.

    Ben bruce has an ambition. His ambition is to be president come 2019 or some not so distant future.
    I have no problem with his ambition but i do have a problem with his motive.
    When a man aspires to public office, its important to dissect his actions before. To me, nothing about this man paints a picture of one who clearly wants to serve his people.
    What has ben bruce done before to think any nigerian will deem him worthy of the highest office in the land. the man is an aggressive capitalist with no track record of philanthropy.
    The late MKO abiola was a capitalist but his track record of philanthropy endeared him to everyone. When he aspired to be president, everyone could see he was a man with a good heart and good intentions. same cannot be said of ben bruce! end of!

  3. Very well said!
    Onyeka, I expected a write up with ATLEAST one fact to base your judgement on! You based it completely on YOUR perception of a man, who even though you claim you learnt nothing from, still tried to repeatedly call him to speak with?
    You sound like a bitter person, who wants to drag another down, given the opportunity, because you were not given as much attention during an on air interview (of course they would try to monitor your questions, its television!), or because he was not given a direct line to the person he met during a planned MTV skit for viewers! Yes you are an actor! You agreed to the charade to go on air and ask a businessman questions on MTV, I hope no other network invites a bigot like you.

    I read your article were you kissed Linda’s ass on end, with zero actual proper skills of a writer! YOU ARE THE LIAR AND PRETENDER. And YOU are part of what is wrong with the youth today! Looking for negatives in everything!
    Disgusting, because you are aware that by having met him before you are able to sway peoples beliefs in your write up.

    Ben Bruce is a sweet talker who may not have honest intentions? Erm…That is called a politician my dear! Ring up Obama!

  4. Onyeka, try and get a life. Ben is living his own but you are not. You need to cover your face in shame. So because he doesnt pick your call and doesn’t want to have anything to do with you, he has become a liar? That is ridiculous honestly. You need professional help…

  5. Onyeka may have shown some bitterness and personal misgivings towards Bruce, but if you have met this man (I have worked with him at Silver bird), you will know that Onyeka just painted the Ben Bruce….cunning, ruthless, uncaring and unpatriotic… just like his fellow politicians! Not that Ihave a problem with that, I just think he should stop this whole ‘common sense’ playlets! Its a scam!!

  6. Onyeka, your style of writing is dull at best. I don’t think the senator has read any of your work, but if he does, it would certainly justify your being screened by an assistance.

  7. This is good stuff. I personally feel that Ben Bruce’s rants on Twitter is designed to create this image of a politician who wants to change Nigeria. Abeg, Ben Bruce is only in it for himself.

    He has made money but discovered that if he adds “Senator” to his name, he will get more respect and recognition locally and internationally. He also lies a lot. I am not judging though, but he should not come and form saviour for us

    I only feel sorry for the young people taken by Ben Bruce’s antics, if they are lucky they will snap out of it quickly and build their lives for real.

  8. I would disagree with you. Your points are not based on facts rather by what you conceive Ben Bruce to be. This is a hate post. As a writer u need to be objective and base your writing on constuctive criticism.

  9. You sound like a bitter black man. Just because he refused to take your calls…where by the way you wanted to BEG to write his auto-biography, you decided to use your mashed up and bruised ego to colour a paper under the guise of being a “writer”! Stop sulking papi – wake up and smell the coffee. This man is a breathe of fresh air in a country where mediocrity and greed has become the order of the day.

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