A Critical Look At Buhari’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ Campaign | Independent Newspapers Limited
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A Critical Look At Buhari’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ Campaign

'Change Begins With Me' campaign
Posted: Sep 18, 2016 at 10:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Our Correspondents. 

As Nigerians still suffer the biting economic recession, President Muhammadu Buhari last week launched his new product, ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign. With poverty and hunger grinding the citizens, many Nigerians have been wondering if this is what the nation needs now.

With the cost of living skyrocketing by the day and many finding it extremely difficult to provide even a single meal in day, Nigerians find it to believe that instead of the Presidency working hard to find solution to the nation’s economic problems, the government is coming out with moral preaching on personal conduct when the citizens are in dare need of a saviour.

Also, many Nigerians maintain that apart from the claim of recovered looted fund, nothing much has changed from what obtained during former President Goodluck Jonathan administration and what exists now under Buhari.

Many Nigerians claim that corruption is still going on unabated under Buhari’s nose, while his cabinet members seem clueless on how to face the problems facing the country. They also maintain that oestentatious living has not abated among public officers, including the Presidency, as their lifestyle does not depict that of people in recession.

The conclusion is that since May 29, 2015 when President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over the reins of governance from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with their ‘Change’ mantra, nothing has really changed.  With the way things are now, many now ask: “Should the change begin with the Presidency or Nigerians? Is this the right time to launch the programme?”

New Programme Elicits Mixed Feelings

Mixed feelings have greeted the ‘Change Begins With Me Campaign’ recently launched by President Buhari. While some Nigerians welcome the development, others criticise it, saying it is unnecessary.

Comrade Amitolu Shittu, the National Coordinator of Committee for Democracy and Right of the People (CDRP), while commenting on the campaign, said it is a welcome development and a good idea.

Shittu, however, maintained that ‘Change’ should really begin with the leadership, adding that if the leadership agree with the concept, abide by it and ensure its full implementation, it will be easy for the followers to take a cue from them.

According to him, the time has come for everybody to embrace the campaign, but he stressed that the programme should be prosecuted in such a way that no one will be left behind.

Shittu also stated that the campaign will assist in restoring the nation’s economy in a record time, noting however that the time has come for the nation to be refocused and redirected in the right direction.

The activist called on all Nigerians to embrace the campaign for the betterment of all and in the interest of the future of the country.

Campaign An After Thought – PDP Chieftain

Hon. Bola Ajao, the State Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while reacting to the launcing of the programme, criticised the campaign, saying it is after thought.

According to him, this is not the appropriate time to launch such a campaign, stressing that what is paramount at present is for assist the citizens to overcome the effect of the current economic recession in the country, without which, he maintained that such a campaign will not add value to Nigerians.

The Campaign Is Good, But Ill-Timed – CD Scribe

Comrade Abdullahi Jabi, Secretary General, Campaign for Democracy (CD) in his reaction said that President Buhari is in the right direction in coming out with the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign. He stressed that the programme is a concept geared towards actualising desired attitudinal change among Nigerians.

Jabi said Nigerians need a more positive way of doing things in compliance with the value system, even as he noted that the campaign is demonstrating leadership by example and value reorientation for the youths to keep hope alive, build self-confidence in themselves and contribute towards socio-economic development.

“But, having said that, the ‘Change’ I believe in must start from the Presidency, then downwards, for the Nigerian masses to see and follow suit. However, it is ill-timed. I must say that, PMB (Buhari) must appreciate the level of hunger, inequality, poverty and pains citizens are passing through.

“Having said that, I strongly suggest that the government should, as a matter of urgency, fast-track the economic growth and food security, thereby putting smiles on the faces of the impoverished masses, the poor, less privileged in the society, because, times are really very hard.

Chief Benjamin Nnadozie, Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Imo State chapter, on his own maintained that the launching  of the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign by the presidency is a little bit confusing.

He maintained that while the programme is a step in the right direction, it should be geared towards changing the rot in governance, “and I believe that when Nigerians see the positive result, they will also change in their attitude and conduct.”

Activist Blasts Buhari Over New Campaign

The ‘Change’ mantra of President Buhari has come under a serious attack as some Nigerians are still wondering when all his pre-election promises will start to yield fruits and end the current harsh economic recession.

Buhari was particularly criticized over the recent launch of the “Change Begins With Me” programme in Abuja. Many maintained that for the federal government to be taken seriously, the economy must be revamped, as high cost of living is presently becoming unbearable.

Comrade Franklin Ntekim, in a telephone interview in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, blamed the present economic situation in the country on the inability of the President’s  Economic Team to formulate policies that would inject life into the dying economy.

Ntekim said: “What is the ‘Change’ they want us to see? The President and his cabinet must work the ‘Change’ in a way that will put food on the table of Nigerians. Things are getting worse on a daily basis. In fact, Nigerians are now dying of hunger.

“There is nobody that will want to listen to any preaching on ‘Change’ unless it must start from the Presidenct. First, he must respect the rule of law by releasing all the political detainees under his watch. Secondly, he must inject the recovered looted funds into the economy. That is the ‘Change’ we are talking about”.

Ntekim argued that when people are hungry, “nobody wants to hear anything. A hungry man is an angry man. Nigerians need food to eat. Go to many homes, they are dying of hunger. What manner of ‘Change’ are they talking about?

“It is very sad for President Buhari and his party, APC, to keep blaming the past administration of bad governance. It is more than one year since the APC took over the mantle of leadership, we have not seen any significant change.

“I don’t want to believe that they did not have policy and programme with which to rule Nigeria. There is absolutely nothing new that they have brought to Nigerians as a party in power. It is a pity because this party promised Nigerians so many things during the campaigns. Now, a dollar is exchanging for N450. Have you ever seen a thing like that in this country?”

Ntekim stressed that Buhari’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign is a waste to time and resources, adding that it is only the state of the national economy that can determine the approach of the people, saying that the programme is ill-timed.

“That is not what Nigerians want to hear at this critical moment. What they want is access to food security. There is nothing anybody will preach to Nigerians at this critical moment that will make any sense to them. The major problem of Nigerians right now is food. Not ‘Change’.

“I know that as human beings we need to change our way of life and the way we do things in this country. But, what needs to be done first is to ensure that there is food security. Parents must be able to pay their children’s school fees. They must pay their bills. That is when we can make the ‘Change’ to work”.

Another PDP lawmaker who craved anonymity said the slogan ‘Change Begins With Me’ means nothing to the hungry and suffering Nigerian masses since they cannot see any positive change in their socio-economic well being.

“The people are tired, weaker and poorer and therefore not in the mood for stories that have been told in the past. The same way they treated previous campaigns, whether ‘Rebranding’ or ‘Transformation’, is the same way they will treat this one, if not worse considering the increasing hardship and desperation for survival.

“It is in this context that Nigerians will treat the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign with utmost contempt and distrust. They expect the government to spend the money used for such campaign on roads, power and infrastructure that will improve their lives.

“How can somebody be diligent in the discharge of his or her duties when after 30 days of hard work salary is not paid, even in government agencies? A cousin of mine who got a job with the Code of Conduct Bureau in Abuja has not been paid for four months and the young man is expected to pay bills, feed and transport to work every day.

“How can you be at work early when you cannot transport yourself to work? Change should begin with the President who has not led by example by reducing the cost of running the State House, the number of cars in his convoy, planes in the Presidential Fleet for which more than N5 billion is said to have been spent in maintaining in just 15 months. Is that what he calls ‘Change?’ the PDP lawmaker from the South South queried.

There Will  Be No Better Time Than Now — Essien

Hon. Akparawa Nse Essien, the Deputy Chief Whip, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly  and member representing Onna State Constituency has considered this as best time for the advocacy and implementation of ‘Change’ in Nigeria.

Despite the present economic recession, the lawmaker believes the timing for the  ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign is apt as it serves as wake-up call for Nigerians to strive towards making themselves change agents, both in public and private lives.

He noted that as a focal policy thrust of the present government at the centre, it is necessary for all to key into the ‘Change’ mantra and join hands to ensure that targeted change is achieved.

He said: “Every government comes with a focal policy thrust. The government of the day believes that to get to the Nigeria we all crave for, citizens must make it work by being a change agent, both in private and in public life. There will definitely be no better time than now.”

He however noted that it was necessary for leaders to lead by example by setting the ball of ‘Change’ rolling for Nigerians to follow through, “but then, the leaders must lead by example.”

The lawmaker called on the federal government to expedite action to strengthen the economy through engagement of ?best economic hands in the world to avoid plunging the nation into the worst economic scenario.

“Government should also get our best economic hands from anywhere in the world to help fix our economy from plunging into the worst scenario which is depression.”