• Launches ‘Change Begins With You’ campaign
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has launched a national re-orientation campaign called “Change begins with me” with an appeal to Nigerians to change from the old ways of doing things and embrace new ways of life.
In his address at the launch of the campaign at the State House, Aso Rock in Abuja, the president said the nation could not continue with a system that allowed a corrupt few to continue to enjoy the national wealth while the majority continued to suffer.
He said the campaign was part of the determination of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that all could be proud of.
He said the campaign was about the need to see change not merely in terms of economic and social progress but in terms of personal behaviour especially, the way Nigerians conduct themselves.
According to Buhari, “We need to conduct ourselves, engage our neighbours, 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 places, change at traffic junctions, change at traffic lights etc.”
He said he was not under any illusion that the changes being sought would happen overnight, adding that he had no doubt that the campaign would help restore the nation’s value system and rekindle the citizens’ nationalistic fervour.
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 theoretical exercises.
“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?’.”
The president observed that the nation’s value system had been badly eroded, lamenting that the long-cherished and time honoured, 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.
He said the resultant effect of the derailment in the value system was being felt in the social, political and economic sphere, adding that it was why some youths took to cultism and brigandage instead of studying hard or engaging in decent living.
The president said: “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 motorist 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.”
Buhari appealed to all Nigerians to have a change from the old ways of doing things, saying: “We cannot fold our arms and allow things to continue the old way.”
The president called on Nigerians to resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that had poisoned the country for so long.
He said: “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.”
The president said the lesson of the current problem was that the country could not continue with a thriving army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffered.
“Rather than sit back and complain endlessly, we have decided to act pragmatically, with the launch of this National Re-orientation Campaign,” he said.
He said the campaign would not be a sprint but a marathon that would run the course of his administration’s tenure.
The president noted that Nigeria was passing through a challenging moment where hardly anything worked in a normal manner.
This, he said, had been attributed to the total breakdown of the nation’s core values over the years.
He said Godliness had given way to all kinds of manifestation of lawlessness and degeneration in our national life.
He said: “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.”
Buhari said that there was a need to complement the efforts made in the fight against corruption. This, he said, he believed could best be maintained through attitudinal change, and the change of mindset in private and public lives.