President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday launched ‘Change Begins with Me’, at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja with a declaration that the change desired by Nigerians and promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not happen overnight.
He said it was not a 100 metres race, but a marathon that would run through the life of the administration and needed the collective efforts of all Nigerians.
At the launch, the president stated that “Nigeria is passing through a challenging moment where anything hardly works in a normal manner.”
Buhari reasoned that the APC made change one of its cardinal objectives because only a change of attitude and mind-set in everyday life of Nigerians could mitigate all kinds of manifestations of lawlessness and degeneration prevalent in the country.
He said the campaign being launched was a well-thought out sustainable framework that would help entrench and consolidate the progress so far made by the administration on the fight against corruption in public life.
Buhari bemoaned the erosion of value system over the years, pointing out that the long-cherished and time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, had given way, in the main, to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.
According to the president, the resultant effect of this derailment in value system is being felt in the social, political and economic spheres.
“It is the reason some youths take to cultism and brigandage, instead of studying hard or engaging in decent living; it is the reason some elements break pipelines and other oil facilities, thus, robbing the nation of much-needed resources; it is the reason money belonging to our commonwealth is brazenly stolen by the same public officials to whom they were entrusted; it is the reason motorists drive through red traffic lights; it is the reason many engage in thuggery and vote-stealing during elections; it is part of what has driven our economy into deep problem for 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.”
He urged Nigerians to summon a new spirit of responsibility, service, patriotism and sacrifice, noting that the lesson to learn from the current challenges is that the nation cannot continue thriving on army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffer.
Justifying why everybody must be involved, the president said “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 the society.”
In a preview of the campaign, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said it is a pan-Nigeria crusade devoid of any political or religious coloration.
But, BudgIT did not agree with the president’s ‘Change begins with me’ campaign.
An advocate of transparency in governance, BudgIT said, on its Facebook wall, entitled: ‘What is change and where should change start from?’, that the All Progressives-led Federal Government should first promote transparency in government before asking Nigerians to change.
“Let change start with the National Assembly telling us how N115 billion is spent. Let change start with a cogent explanation why the Nigerian government needs 11 aircraft in a recession. Let change start with government responding to our freedom of information (FOI) on how much money has been given to states as bailout.
“Let change start with the government explaining why it released N400 billion 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.
“Let change start with the reversal of illegal recruitment into government agencies that have got no action from the government. Let us stop making change a meaningless word. Releasing N400 billion 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 and Presidential fleet less?
“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.”