“Change Begins With Me” and national rebirth by Jide Ayobolu

“Change Begins With Me” and national rebirth by Jide Ayobolu

President Muhammadu Buhari said during the launching of Change Begins With Me that, 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.

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.

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 president further reasoned that, 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 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.

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.

I am therefore appealing to all Nigerians to be part of this campaign. Our citizens must realize 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’.

There is indiscipline in various sectors of the economy, indiscipline in private lives, and indiscipline has assumed not only a way of life and cultural values but it has also manifested as societal norms and heritage.

Apart from, people jumping the queue or littering the environment with dirt’s, or defecating the surrounding with human waste and urinating all around indiscriminately, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, non-usage of pedestrian bridges, spraying of national currencies at parties, squeezing of national currencies and putting it in pants or bras, offering bribe to people to induce them, to do what they are not supposed to do in the first place, perpetrating electoral violence, engaging in falsification of electoral results, rigging of elections, over speeding on our highways, not obeying traffic rules and regulations, forging of certificates to get employment, having extra-marital affairs, aiding students to commit examination malpractices, sexual harassment and molestation, offering gratification to people to gain undue advantage over others, stealing public funds, building houses without government approval, building of structures on drainages and canals, damage of public utilities like roads, drainages, street light, water pipes, electricity poles, using electricity without paying bills etc.

To other issues like, people putting pressure on political appointee and highly placed government functionaries to steal or loot, so that, they can benefit from such largesse and also reward them with chieftaincy titles and honourary university degrees, favouritism, nepotism, forgery, rape, murder, suicide, hooliganism and thuggery, reckless driving, armed robbery, public nuisance, selling fake drugs, hoarding of essential commodities, destroying oil pipelines, oil bunkering, police mounting illegal check points to extort money from members of the public, terrorism, armed banditry, secession, street trading, hawking, denial children opportunity to be educated, promotion of mediocrity over merit, manipulation of religion and ethnic sentiment to achieve selfish ends, drug trafficking, prostitution, lesbianism, gay marriages, padding of budgets, yahoo-yahoo, drug abuse, domestic violence, tribalism and ethnicity and many others.

It is high time that the polity was cleansed of all these rots and many more, Nigeria should be known for very good and godly things, it should not be entangled in the web of modernism, civilization and self-inflicted crisis by deliberately pressing the self-destructive button.

Just as bad, anti-social behaviours can be inculcated, so also, good conducts can be emulated; and, so all do the right thing naturally without much prompting, but because of the tendencies to sometimes follow the wrong path, by testing the waters, in this mysterious age of adventurism, this new initiative is a very apt programme and concept to teach people to do the right thing as well as retrace their steps for those that have gone on the wrong side of life.

Indiscipline is not confined to a particular segment of the society, just as it is well entrenched amongst the affluent and high-ups, it is also at home with the downtrodden and the lowly placed in the society.

This makes the campaign an imperative whose time has come. For example, the resort to physical fighting amongst members of the national assembly to resolve difference is a very high degree of indiscipline, if children see their fathers and mothers throwing chairs, punching themselves and tearing their clothes, what kind of example are they showing?

When a father beats up his wife for any reason at all, he his teaching his children to be violent in future, and in fact a person who cannot handle his or her home does not have any business aspiring for public office because there is nothing edifying to learn from such characters.

It is germane to note that once indiscipline and graft are reduce to the barest minimum, then there will be orderliness and tranquility in the polity, on the basis of which real development can take place. But where indiscipline and graft are prevalent, growth is not stunted; there will be motions, but no positive movements going forward.

There no effort should be spared by government to ensure that the citizen always do the right thing through systematic and methodical mass mobilization as well as public enlightment campaigns.

Furthermore, institutional corruption is too well entrenched in the country, making corruption to be more or less the official policy of the state, which make its cumbersome for corruption to be decisively dealt with over the years, it is for this reason that, one of the former rulers of this country said boldly that, stealing is not corruption, in those days of impunity, corruption went on unhindered and it was a matter of how much an individual could steal, but PMB is now saying, corruption is the worst form of human rights violation, noting that, if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria, it is to this end, that the present administration is not leaving any stone unturned, in a bid to tackle corruption and ensure that things in the country are carried out in accordance with international best practices.

We as a nation can ill-afford to carry on like this, any country that elevates corruption to place of pride cannot make any tangible progress and this is a fact of life. PMB is not afraid to take on corruption at any level and in any place in the country; this is of course predicated on one of the underlying principle rule of law, which is equality before the law, there are no sacred cows, as nobody is above the law. In times past, the case of alleged forgery in the senate would have been treated as a family matter, conveniently swept under the carpet and condemned to the dustbin, as relics of history. But PMB has taken the bull by its horns in fight corruption and he should be commended for it.

It would be recalled that, in 2014, Nigeria’s rank improved from 143rd to the 136th position on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

In late 2013, Nigeria’s former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Sanisi Lamidi Sanusi informed President Goodluck Jonathan that the country’s oil company, NNPC had failed to remit US$20 billion of oil revenues, which it owed the state. Jonathan however dismissed the claim and replaced Sanusi for his purported mismanagement of the central bank’s budget. After the conclusion of the NNPC’s account Audit, it was announced in January 2015 that NNPC’s non-remitted revenue is actually US$1.48billion, which it needs to refund back to the Government.

Upon release of both the PwC and Deloitte report by the government at the eve of its exit, it was however determined that truly close to $20 billion was indeed missing or misappropriated or spent without appropriation.

In addition to these, the government of Goodluck Jonathan had several embarrassing scandals including the BMW Purchase by his Aviation Minister, $250 million plus security contracts to militants in the Niger Delta, massive corruption and kick backs in the ministry of petroleum, Malibu oil international scandal, and several scandals involving the petroleum ministry including accusations of sweetheart deals with select fronts and business people to divert public wealth.

In the dying days of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the Central Bank Scandal of cash tripping of mutilated notes also broke out, where it was revealed that in a four days period, N8 billion was stolen directly by low level workers in the CBN. This revelation excluded a crime that is suspected to have gone on for years and went undetected until revealed by whistleblower; the Central Bank claim the heist undermined its monetary policy.

These are very clear cut issues that new campaign would discourage to happen in the first place, these are some of the matters that have dragged Nigeria back as a country.

Corruption to any discerning Nigerian has become mortifying and it has brought the country to her kneels, hence, this new programme of national rebirth should embark upon mass public education and enlightened of the citizenry, on the need to abhor all forms of corrupt practices, need for contentment and collective development, for instance, what does an individual needs billion and trillions of naira for? It boils down to selfishness and greed.

When an individual steals from the economy, what is otherwise called primitive accumulation, automatically, it deprives other people from what is legitimately due to them from the economy; this is seen in high unemployment level, bad roads, absence of pipe-borne water, epileptic electricity, inadequate housing units, poor health facilities, substandard educational institutions and other glaring indices of underdevelopment in our midst.

Hence, this new initiative of national rebirth is an idea all Nigerians should embrace moving forward, we as a people can ill afford to continue to live without any moral compass, we have to inculcate the right kind of values and be very disciplined; with this new beginning, Nigeria will be great again.

Ayobolu, a public affairs analyst contributed this piece from Lagos State.

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