by Joachim MacEbong
Today, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture launched the #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign in Abuja, with a call to all Nigerians to shun reckless behaviour, social vices, and what have you.
In many ways, this is a throwback to the War Against Indiscipline launched by the Buhari regime in 1984. It is true that there is quite a bit of that indiscipline that goes on among Nigerians: we violate traffic rules, litter the environment, engage in corruption in our places of work, and much more, but listening to the government preaching about ‘change’ will not change any of this.
This initiative will fail for all the reasons other top-down campaigns by the Nigerian government – like the ‘Good People, Great Nation’, ‘Giant of Africa’ and other such things have failed: the Nigerian government must first remove the log in its own eye before attempting to remove the speck in the eyes of its citizens.
Change begins with the President himself, who has broken quite a few of the promises he made the Nigerian people already. He promised to make public his asset declaration form, but has not done so.
Change begins with a Presidency that understands that it does not need eleven aircraft in a fleet, nor does it need billions for feeding over the course of a calendar year.
Change begins with a government that understands that it cannot continue to live like crude oil is still $100 a barrel. The music has stopped, but our leaders are still dancing.
Change begins with our legislators, who are among the highest paid in the world, but are also among the most corrupt. They have availed themselves of N115 billion of the 2016 budget with no accountability or transparency. No one knows what the money is used for, despite several calls for an Open National Assembly.
Change begins with our governors who do not pay their workers when due, but still hold tight to their security votes and lavish spending. Budgets are not made public, and these governors put hundreds of people on the payroll without any clarity on what value those people add, outside the spreading of patronage.
Change begins with the Buhari administration realising that engaging in a blame game with the Jonathan administration, and now with Nigerians, can only result in failure.
Change is not just a word. It is more than one liners and empty slogans. This can be written off as the latest hit single from the stable of the National Distraction Committee. Nigeria is currently in an avoidable recession, one caused by a President who has refused to change his failed economic ideas from the mid-80s which relied on a command and control economy, as if you can order an economy to grow from the barracks.
In the same way, social change cannot be brought about by military-type fiat. Those who preach about change must earn the right to do so, or else their words will fall on deaf ears.
The Nigerian government, the Nigerian state, at any level, has no moral high ground to demand better behaviour from those they lead. They must first begin by looking in the mirror. While doing so, each and every one of them should repeat these words: ‘Change Begins With Me’.
And cut out the the expensive crap.