President Muhammadu Buhari has said the change his administration promised during its campaign begins with all Nigerians.
The President, who stated this on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the national re-orientation campaign entitled, ‘Change Begins With Me’, said the change Nigerians were seeking must begin with all citizens of the country.
But an anti-graft organisation, BudgIT group, has questioned the sincerity of Buhari ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign.
BudgIT, which advocates transparency in governance, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that the President could not demand change from Nigerians when his government had failed to promote change through transparency.
Buhari stated that one of the cardinal objectives of the All Progressives Congress was “change” and urged all Nigerians to support the national re-orientation campaign.
The President added, “Our citizens must realise that the change they want to see begins with them, and that personal and social reforms are not a theoretical 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?”
He said Nigeria was passing through a challenging time and emphasised the need for attitudinal change for the nation to get to its destination.
Buhari added, “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 manifestation 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.
“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 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 neighbours, friends and generally, how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definite ways and manner that promote our common good and common destiny – change at home; change in the work place; change at traffic junction; change at traffic lights etc.”
According to him, the campaign is part of the determination of the APC “to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that we all can be proud of.”
He noted that the country’s value system had 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,” Buhari stated.
The President added that the effect of the erosion in the value system was manifest in all spheres of national life.
He stated, “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 the 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 a 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.
“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 inauguration 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 fervour.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the campaign would be a pan-Nigerian campaign with no colouration whatsoever.
Mohammed, who introduced the multimedia materials for the campaign, stated that it would be executed in partnership with the states.
The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Mallam Garba Abari, believed the campaign would address the decay in the nation’s value system, adding that there was no aspect of the national life that did not require a new orientation.
In a related development, the NOA said it had perfected plans for awards to recognise and celebrate exemplary Nigerians, who distinguished themselves in promoting peaceful coexistence, brotherliness and religious tolerance in the nation.
In a statement on Thursday, NOA stated that six states in the country had also been identified to receive awards for their friendliness to visitors and dwellers.
The award, tagged, ‘Bridge Builders Awards’, is organised in collaboration with Love to the World Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, aimed at encouraging Nigerians across tribal, religious and political affiliations to contribute meaningfully to the progress of Nigeria.
However, BudgIT, in its Facebook post titled, ‘What is change and where should change start from?’ said the government at all levels had failed to change and then wondered why the government should demand change from Nigerians.
BudgIT said, “Let change start with National Assembly telling us how N115bn is spent. Let change start with a cogent explanation why the Nigerian government needs 11 aircraft in a recession.
“Let change start with the government responding to our FOI (Freedom of Information Act) questions on how much money has been given to states as bailout
“Let change start with the government explaining why it released N400bn for capital expenditure with no project details. How long do we keep running with opacity?
“Let change start with the government telling the people how much funds have been recovered and who returned what.”
The group berated the Buhari-led administration for the secret recruitment in the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigeria Prisons Service.
It added, “Let change start with the reversal of illegal recruitment into government agencies that has got no action from the government. Let us stop making change a meaningless word. Releasing N400bn for capital projects without details is not the way to go.
“Change starts with accountability of public funds and radical transparency. What is the government changing before asking you for change? Are the convoys less, presidential fleet less?
“A Special Adviser to the President has several personal assistants. Change is when we cut the size of government. Change is when the use of public funds is truly made public. Citizens know how public resources are used.
“The government wants everything including change from citizens. What is it giving back? What is it sacrificing? Nigerians need to change but it starts with its leadership showing the right example.”