President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday launched the change campaign, code-named, “Change Begins With Me,” in Abuja, vowing to eliminate rent-seeking from the nation’s public service.
He told the gathering of top government officials, civil society organizations and private sector operators that he was not under any illusion that the needed change would happen overnight. The President said he was, however, optimistic that with a consistent campaign and determination of the Nigerian public, the desired change would be achieved.
He said: “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. 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 resultant effect of this derailment in our value system is being felt in the social, political and economic spheres. ‘’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 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 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.
‘’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 also 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 fervour.” President Buhari called for the buy-in of all Nigerians into the change campaign, with a promise that his government would provide necessary leadership for the desired results. “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.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made a multimedia presentation of the campaign materials, told the audience: “The change initiative has no political, ethnic and religious colouration but focused on rediscovering the Nigeria of our dream.” He described it as “a campaign to change the way we do things wrongly.”