Anti-corruption body tackles Buhari as President asks Nigerians to change

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Niyi Odebode, Everest Amaefule and Eniola
Akinkuotu

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the change
his administration promised during its campaign
begins with all Nigerians.

The President, who stated this on Thursday in
Abuja at the inauguration of the national re-
orientation campaign entitled, ‘Change Begins With
Me’, said the change Nigerians were seeking must
begin with all citizens of the country.
But an anti-graft organisation, BudgIT group, has
questioned the sincerity of Buhari ‘Change Begins
With Me’ campaign.

BudgIT, which advocates transparency in
governance, said in a Facebook post on Thursday
that the President could not demand change from
Nigerians when his government had failed to
promote change through transparency.
Buhari stated that one of the cardinal objectives of
the All Progressives Congress was “change” and
urged all Nigerians to support the national re-
orientation campaign.
The President added, “Our citizens must realise
that the change they want to see begins with them,
and that personal and social reforms are not a
theoretical 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?”
He said Nigeria was passing through a challenging
time and emphasised the need for attitudinal
change for the nation to get to its destination.
Buhari added, “Nigeria today is passing through a
challenging moment, where hardly anything works
in a normal manner. Many have attributed this
phenomenon to the total breakdown of our core
values over the years.
“It is safe to say today that honesty, hard work,
godliness have given way to all kinds of
manifestation 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 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 neighbours, friends and
generally, how we relate with the larger society in a
positive and definite ways and manner that
promote our common good and common destiny
– change at home; change in the work place;
change at traffic junction; change at traffic lights
etc.”
According to him, the campaign is part of the
determination of the APC “to carry all Nigerians
along on the journey to a better and greater
society that we all can be proud of.”
He noted that the country’s value system had 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,” Buhari
stated.
The President added that the effect of the erosion
in the value system was manifest in all spheres of
national life.
He stated, “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 the 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 motorists 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 a 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.
“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
inauguration 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 fervour.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai
Mohammed, said the campaign would be a pan-
Nigerian campaign with no colouration whatsoever.
Mohammed, who introduced the multimedia
materials for the campaign, stated that it would be
executed in partnership with the states.
The Director-General of the National Orientation
Agency, Mallam Garba Abari, believed the
campaign would address the decay in the nation’s
value system, adding that there was no aspect of
the national life that did not require a new
orientation.
In a related development, the NOA said it had
perfected plans for awards to recognise and
celebrate exemplary Nigerians, who distinguished
themselves in promoting peaceful coexistence,
brotherliness and religious tolerance in the nation.
In a statement on Thursday, NOA stated that six
states in the country had also been identified to
receive awards for their friendliness to visitors and
dwellers.
The award, tagged, ‘Bridge Builders Awards’, is
organised in collaboration with Love to the World
Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, aimed
at encouraging Nigerians across tribal, religious
and political affiliations to contribute meaningfully
to the progress of Nigeria.
However, BudgIT, in its Facebook post titled, ‘What
is change and where should change start from?’
said the government at all levels had failed to
change and then wondered why the government
should demand change from Nigerians.
BudgIT said, “Let change start with National
Assembly telling us how N115bn is spent. Let
change start with a cogent explanation why the
Nigerian government needs 11 aircraft in a
recession.
“Let change start with the government responding
to our FOI (Freedom of Information Act) questions
on how much money has been given to states as
bailout
“Let change start with the government explaining
why it released N400bn 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.”
The group berated the Buhari-led administration
for the secret recruitment in the Central Bank of
Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the
Nigeria Prisons Service.
It added, “Let change start with the reversal of
illegal recruitment into government agencies that
has got no action from the government. Let us
stop making change a meaningless word.
Releasing N400bn 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 less, presidential fleet less?
“A Special Adviser to the President has several
personal assistants. Change is when we cut the
size of government. Change is when the use of
public funds is truly made public. Citizens know
how public resources are used.
“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.”

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