President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Thursday launched the national re-orientation campaign, ‘’Change Begins with me.’’

On the occasion, the president called on Nigerians to embrace the campaign for a better and progressive Nigeria. He urged all citizens to always resist the temptation of doing things the old way, saying that Nigerians must exhibit the virtues of honesty and hard work in all their interactions. According to him, Nigeria is passing through a challenging moment where hardly anything works in a normal manner.

 

Buhari said many had attributed the negative attitudes to the total breakdown of the nation’s core values over the years. “It is safe to say today that honesty, hard work, Godliness have given way to all kinds of manifestations 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 we are about to launch today 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.’’

The president said change should also reflect in how people engaged their neigbhours, friends and “generally how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner’’. He said such attitudes must promote common good and common destiny at home, in the work place and on the road.

Buhari said the campaign was part of the All Progressives Congress’ determination to seek to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society “that we all can be proud of’’. According to him, the long-cherished and time honoured, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighbourliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have vanished.

He said such virtues had 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 sphere. “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 motorist 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. “Everyone 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.’’

Buhari said Nigerians must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that had poisoned the country for so long. He appealed to all Nigerians to be part of the campaign, saying that the campaign would not be a sprint “but a marathon that will run the course of our tenure’’.

He urged all citizens to summon the new spirit of responsibility, service, patriotism and sacrifice and resolve to work hard for the general good. He also enjoined Nigerians to imbibe a new spirit of responsibility, service, patriotism and sacrifice, and “resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but 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.’’ He said: “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 fervor. “I am therefore appealing to all Nigerians to be part of this campaign. “Our citizens must realise that the change they want to see begins with them and that personal and social reforms are not theoretic 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?’’

While the government will drive the Change Begins With Me’ campaign, it must be strongly supported by all concerned individually. He said the private sector must be a major stakeholder in the campaign and expressed the hope that“ when the campaign succeeds, it will impact heavily on the private sector.’’ “A punctual, diligent and hardworking staff can only be of benefit of not just himself or herself or the organisation they work for but to various governments whether at local, state or federal level.’’ The president congratulated the stakeholders, especially Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for conceiving the campaign.

He urged all concerned to pursue the campaign with vigour and ensure its sustenance. He urged them to take the campaign to all the nooks and crannies of the country, “with the aim of getting the buy in of the old, the young, the rich, the poor irrespective of gender or other social positions.’’

While speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,  said that the national reorientation campaign has no political, religious or ethnic coloration. The minister, who presented the multimedia format of the campaign to the public, said it had “the sole objective of achieving a paradigm shift in the ways we do things’’. “Change begins with me is a national campaign that has no coloration whatsoever.

“ The campaign principle is simple, each one of us must live the change we want to see in our society,’’ he said. He solicited the support of the media, particularly the public and private-owned television and radio stations by allotting airtime for the campaign clips. “The campaign will be carried out in all the major languages of the country. “In propagating this campaign, we will also leverage heavily on the social media and it will be largely youth-driven,’’ he said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the multimedia format presentations centre on acts and consequences of corruption, bribery, bunkering and other economic sabotage activities.

There were also presentations on moral values – punctuality, obedience to traffic rules, use of pedestrian bridges and consequences of examination malpractices, among others. Also,  Malam Garba Abari, Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA),  expressed optimism that the “Change Begins with Me’’ campaign would address the decay of moral values in the country. Abari stated in his address at the inauguration  that the campaign was part of efforts to sensitise Nigerians to understand their roles in the actualisation of the change mantra of the Buhari’s administration. “ Nigerians must realise that the change we seek starts with us and also understand that the society can only undergo its full change, when everyone embraces positive values.

“ The objective of the campaign is to address the decay in our value system – discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice self reliance and religious tolerance-,’’ he said.

The NOA boss expressed optimism that the crusade would, no doubt, entrench new acceptable values and behaviour capable of taking Nigeria to greater height.

Abari, therefore, called on all Nigerians, irrespective of their political inclination, to support the campaign so that its objective would be achieved. “ We must all support this initiative because there is no aspect of our national life that is not desirous of a new beginning and a new orientation,’’ he said. The DG noted that the cumulative effect of citizens exhibiting good moral values would eventually lead to a changed society. He assured that the NOA would use its elaborate network all over the country to take the message of change to all levels of the society and government.

“ We shall engage the citizens directly at all levels, use print and electronic media and of course the social media to reach out to a large section of our population, especially the youth. “ These are some of the instrument we wish to deploy in order to take the change message to where it is desired most,’’ he said.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs Ayotunde Adesugba urged the media to lead the change campaign by enlightening and educating the citizens in the society.

Adesugba called on members of the National Assembly to enact laws that would promote civic responsibility and virtues in the country. (NAN) The high point of the ceremony was the presentation of a flag by the president to the minister signalling the commencement of the campaign across the country. Present at the ceremony were, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, governors, ministers head of government establishments, traditional rulers, religious-based leaders, members of diplomatic corps and students. (NAN)

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