Critics of the government’s change campaign got a reply yesterday – President Muhammadu Buhari challenged them to ask themselves how far they have changed in their ways.
To the President, nothing is working because of the total breakdown of our core values over the years.
He said old habits of partisanship, pettiness and immaturity must give way to new order characterised by a new spirit of responsibility, service, patriotism and sacrifice.
Nigerians, in Buhari’s view, need attitudinal change and a change of mindset in private and public life.
He said those asking for the change to first ask themselves, how far they have also changed.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja at the launch of a national re-orientation campaign, titled “Change Begins With Me”.
He said the nation must be ready to stop the tyranny of rent seekers and vested interests while the majority suffers. Besides, Nigerians should not be under any illusion that changes will happen overnight.
But Buhari is confident that the campaign will help restore our value system and rekindle our nationalistic fervor.
Buhari said:” I am therefore appealing to all Nigerians to be part of this campaign. Our citizens must realise that the change they want to see begins with them, and that personal and social reforms are not theoretic exercise.
“If you have not seen the change in you, you cannot see it in others or even the larger society. In other words, before you ask ‘where is the change they promised us’, you must first ask how far have I changed my ways, ‘what have I done to be part of the change for the greater good of society?
“Nigeria today is passing through a challenging moment where hardly anything works in a normal manner. Many have attributed this phenomenon to the total breakdown of our core values over the years.
“It is safe to say today that honesty, hard work, Godliness have given way to all kinds of manifestations of lawlessness and degeneration in our national life. This is why we have among our cardinal objectives ‘change’, which implies the need for a change of attitude and mindset in our everyday life.”
The President said with the success of the anti-corruption crusade of his administration, there is need for a sustainable framework to change the attitude and mindset of Nigerians.
He added: “I need not mention the serious effort we have engaged in since the inception of this administration on the fight against corruption in our public life. With the progress we have so far made in that regard, we feel the need to ensure that we put in place the necessary sustainable framework for action and measures that will help to entrench and consolidate the progress achieved so far.
“This we believe can best be maintained through attitudinal change, and the change of our mindset in private and public life.
“ The campaign we are about to launch today is all about the need for us to see change not merely in terms of our economic, social progress but in terms of our personal behaviour on how we conduct ourselves, engage our neigbhours, friends and generally how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner that promotes our common good and common destiny, change at home, change in the work place, change at traffic junction, change at traffic lights etc.
“This campaign is part of the determination of our party to seek to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that we all can be proud of.”
Reviewing how the nation has degenerated, Buhari regretted that Nigerians now give preference to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.
He said: “There is no doubt that our value system has been badly eroded over the years. The long-cherished and time honoured, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have given way in the main to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.
“The resultant effect of this derailment in our value system is being felt in the social, political and economic sphere.
“ It is the reason that some youths will take to cultism and brigandage instead of studying hard or engaging in decent living; it is the reason that some elements will break pipelines and other oil facilities, thus robbing the nation of much-needed resources; it is the reason that money belonging to our commonwealth will be brazenly stolen by the same public officials to whom they were entrusted; it is the reason why motorists drive through red traffic lights, it is the reason that many will engage in thuggery and vote-stealing during elections; it is part of what has driven our economy into deep problem out of which we are now working hard to extricate ourselves. Every one of us must have a change from our old ways of doing things; we cannot fold our arms and allow things to continue the old way.
“We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long.
“Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice. Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another. What the current problem has taught us is that we cannot have a thriving army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffers.
“Rather than sit back and complain endlessly, we have decided to act pragmatically, with the launch of this National Re-orientation Campaign. The campaign will not be a sprint but a marathon that will run the course of our tenure. We are under no illusion that the changes we seek will happen overnight, but we have no doubt that the campaign will help restore our value system and rekindle our nationalistic fervor.
“While the government will drive the Change Begins With Me’ campaign, it must be strongly supported by all concerned individually. In this regard the private sector is a major stakeholder. Indeed when the campaign succeeds, it will impact heavily on the private sector. A punctual, diligent and hardworking staff can only be of benefit of not just himself or herself or the organization they work for but to various governments whether at local, state or Federal level.
“While congratulating the stakeholders, especially Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Orientation Agency for conceiving this campaign, I charge all to pursue the campaign with vigour and ensure its sustenance by taking it to all the nook and crannies of this country, with the aim of getting the buy in of the old, the young, the rich, the poor irrespective of gender or other social positions.”
Buhari later handed over the instrument of “Change Begins With Me” to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for transmission to all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria.
With applause from the audience, he said: “Indeed I say to the glory of Mighty Allah, “Change Begins With Me”.
Mohammed, who presented the multi-media format of the re-orientation campaign Change Begins With Me to the President said it is “a Pan-Nigeria Campaign that has no coloration whatsoever – whether it is political, religious or ethnic.
“It is a campaign for all Nigerians with the sole objective of achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things. The campaign’s principle is simple: Each one of us must be the change we want to see in our society!”
He said the campaign, which will be carried out in all the major Nigerian languages, will leverage heavily on the social media and will be largely youth-driven.
Mohammmed urged all the states to partner with the Federal Government so as to reach every Nigerian.