Having traversed decades of military rules and civil administrations, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce has seen various governments’ policies summersault. In this exclusive interview with News 24, the senator spoke on why he supported the youths on their recent protest against police brutality, using ENDSARS slogan to stop the human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
He said that the protesters had refused to leave the road because they did not believe in government anymore, even when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the disbandment of SARS and replaced it with Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT, the youths saw the step as one of government’s numerous deceptive tactics.
On ENDSARS Protest
Senator: The youths have the right to protest against bad policy. The protest was peaceful and the mayhem in Lagos would not have happened if the government had engaged the ENDSARS protesters earlier enough.
The mistake the government made was not engaging the youths from Day One. The delayed reaction is the cause of the riot on the street. Why did the government wait until the malls and houses had been destroyed.
The youths have an attention bound of 10 seconds; you don’t delay the reaction to their plights. They function at the speed of thought. The government is functioning as if it’s in 1960. There is total disconnect between the kids and those who govern them.
On Shooting at Lekki Toll Gate
Senator: All those involved in the mayhem must be brought to justice. They must be brought to real justice because we cannot get involved in a state terrorist act. The reaction from the government should not be to pull the trigger. The strategy used by government to disperse the peaceful protesters is wrong. The people are hungry and angry. Pulling the trigger is the first mistake that the government made and hopefully is the only mistake. What the youths were asking for was that government should end Special Anti-Robbery Squad and provide good governance. Who pulled the trigger and why? Did they have to kill kids? What kind of method is this, we are not in Stone Age. This is not Gadhafi’s government, this is not Egypt, why pull the trigger? Once you pull the trigger, for every action, there is reaction.
His position on state police
Senator: I must go down in history as the only senator that had all my bills rejected by my colleagues. State police, I proposed it, it was rejected unanimously by the senate, clean energy, I proposed it, it was rejected unanimously, right of return, I proposed it, rejected unanimously. How can you be in Lagos and the policeman in Surulere is from Zamfara. How can you be in Port Harcourt and the policeman is from Ebonyi? If the Policeman is from Isale Eko, it would have been difficult to rob Oba of Lagos because the policeman grew up there. The community policeman knows your name and he stands in front of you. He is not going to shoot you because a lot of people are looking at him because he is your uncle. But if you put a foreigner there, like a Chinese guy, why should he care? We are talking about compassion, relationship. That was the bill I proposed. You cannot solve this problem unless we have state police, community policing. The Oba’s palace would not have been assaulted because the man there would have understood why they have to protect the heritage of Lagos.
How to solve the present challenges in Nigeria
Senator: There are three ways out of this quagmire; one, there is need for population control; two, there is need to shrink the size of the government and; three, to grow the economy. If you don’t reduce your population, you are going to be dealing with the total destruction of the country; there is need for population control. You have to control the population. Two, you have to grow the economy and three you have to shrink the size of the government. The idea of having 42 ministers is condemnable. Do we need 42 ministers, to do what? The cost of government is too high and the accountability on how much we spend to run the government is ridiculous.