CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME!
NIGERIA: THE CHANGE WE ALL NEED (Pt. 3)
Evang. Jeremiah Onwukaobi
The first part of this reflection, Nigeria: the change we all need (Pt. 1) was written and published in the twilight of 2015 General Elections. That was when the word ‘Change’ took another dimension in Nigerian politics to the point of being debased. In those days, ‘Change’ was offered to Nigerians as food was to hungry and desperate children; and desperation, they say, leads to frustration.
In that first part of this reflection, this writer insisted that “… though man struggles to change or to effect a change, if the change does not begin from within, he would not make much progress in the process. Change springs from within and is seen without. The reason why ‘Change’ has remained an abstract word is because nobody is emphasizing the need for personal inner change. We don’t want to change our ways, yet we want things to change around us. If one desires to see a different result, he/she must change his/her ways of thinking and of doing things. But as far as we continue in the old ways, we can’t have a different result”.
The second part, Nigeria: the change we all need (Pt. 2) however was written after the
General Elections have been conducted, won and lost. It was published in May 2015. In those days, many Nigerians won and lost various bets following the eventual fate of their respective candidates. It was a season of wailing and hailing, when the leader turned to the led, the majority turned to minority, as power really and truly changed hands, and great expectations mounted in the air across Nigeria. But in my reflections, I had looked at various attempts by past governments to inculcate CHANGE amongst the Nigerian populace, all of which have failed. In the said article, I had sampled Gen. Buhari’s War Against Indiscipline (WAI) (1983-1985); Gen. Abacha’s War Against Indiscipline and Corruption (WAI-C) (1993-1998); and Chief Obasanjo’s (1999-2007) “Rebranding Nigeria” campaign, which was championed by the late Amazon, Prof. Dora Akunyili.
And then I concluded that “Now that we have a new government which came into power with ‘Change mantra’; now that the change we all yearned for is dawning on us; now that we all expect change as immediate as a flashlight; let us not be deceived, change must begin from within. If Nigerians do not change their social behavior and moral attitude, the new government may not do much for us. Those who would constitute the new government are not angels nor are they from another planet or country; they are Nigerians and part of Nigerian system. In fact, many of them were part of the government that was changed but only cross-carpeted in search of political fortunes. So, on their own, they cannot effect any reasonable change. As we set to experience a new change in government, let us be the change we want”.
The Change-mantra Government:
The ‘Change’ regime took over government on May 29, 2015. It was a great day in the history of Nigeria; the day an opposing party became the party in power, and the ruling party became an opposition party; the day of change indeed, when a man who has made several attempts at becoming a democratic president of Nigeria finally realized his dream. Change was smelt in the air, seen from afar, and was hoped for, definitely. This is sixteen (16) months on and Nigerians are the best judges as to whether there is change or not.
On September 8, 2016, i.e. about fifteen (15) months in power, the change government officially launched “CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME” campaign. Since this campaign began, many Nigerians have expressed disappointment over the attitude of the government in implementing their change agenda. How can the same government that promised enormous change in Nigerian polity turn back to say that the same change begins with the masses? Is this not an irony? Is this not rather a shift of responsibility? On the day of election, Nigerian people entered into a social contract with the government they elected. The manifesto of the government-elect along with their several campaign promises constituted their bond and the people are all waiting, a wait that is gradually turning into a nightmare. The masses were promised that once they got into power, there would be a complete turn-around in all spheres of our national life; one dollar would go for one Naira; school children would have free meals; employment would roll out in millions for our youths and other unemployed populace; food would be surplus; electricity supply would become steady since ‘it won’t take any serious government six months to fix it (electricity)’; now, how can these changes begin with me?
Now, it’s even more unfortunate that this call is coming after very long time of anxious waiting. If this campaign was launched few weeks after assumption of office, Nigerians would key into it easily and readily. But it rather came when the patience of the Nigerian populace has been over-stretched already; when the same ‘change’ now mean different thing to different people; when many now see the ‘change’ as rather a curse than a blessing due to the existing realities.
The contents of the two previous published articles on this subject matter are testimonies that this writer is not averse to change campaign of the federal government of Nigeria; instead, the campaign only confirmed my earlier stand. But several factors antecedent to the campaign launch makes it even more discouraging. Very surprisingly, President Buhari attended the launch only as a Special Guest. How can PMB be a “guest” in a programme that should be his personal pact with Nigerians? According to the organizers, the main goal of the campaign is to “instill discipline and patriotism in Nigerians”.
In his speech, President Buhari charged Nigerians not to see the “change” slogan of his administration only in terms of social and economic reforms but also in the role that individual citizens must play in actualising it. According to him, Nigerians can contribute to “change” through the way “we conduct ourselves, engage our neighbours, 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…” What greater impact these sublime words would have made on Nigerians if the campaign was launched first few weeks of his being sworn-in, when his popularity and goodwill were at their peaks!
Change begins with me:
Indeed, the need for change in Nigeria is quite glaring. We have gone from bad to worse, from frying pan to fire; hence we need to retrace our steps both as a government and as a people. That change begins with me also applies to the people charged with the responsibility of public offices. In these days of recession, political office holders (elected and appointed) are still living in affluence to the taunt and chagrin of the ordinary masses who bear the brunt thereof, and whom recession are gradually leading to frustration. Where is the change? This is a question on the lips of every average Nigerian today. Indeed, we need change! “We must look inwards for most of our needs rather than depend on foreign finished goods. We must love things made in Nigeria and work extra hard to shift our nation away from oil-dependence. We must also change our poor attitude to our country and one another. Nigerians must see one another as compatriots, not enemies. However, we believe that leadership will necessarily play a leading role in bringing about the much-needed change. The reorientation must start from the top of governance and leadership as an example for citizens to follow. The campaign for ‘change’ will fail if the citizenry continue to see a leadership that preaches one thing and does another”.
Permit me to align with the campaign that “change begins with me”, not less than it also begins with those in authority. The bulk of the responsibilities and duties prerequisite for the desired change lie with government and political leaders. Nigerians will ignore President Buhari, Minister Lai Mohammed, NOA, and the rest of the change campaigners if nepotism, tribalism and inequities prevalent in the selection and appointment of people heading sensitive government positions in Nigeria are not revisited. Every Nigerian “must have a sense of belonging and only government can provide it. The role of leadership in changing Nigeria for the better cannot be over-emphasized”. This will be the catalyst that will drive the change we dire need in this country. Everybody must rise to the challenge, but government must lead the way.
God bless Nigeria!
Jeremiah is a Catholic lay Teacher/Preacher, prolific Author/Publisher and freelance Writer. A trained, commissioned and certified Missionary, Pastoral Counsellor and Evangelizer.
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