Nigerian President Calls For “Change In Behaviour” As “National Re-Orientation Campaign” Is Launched

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has launched a campaign aimed at behaviour change. The civic education campaign, according to President Buhari, is aimed at a positive behavioural change in a country that is one of the most corrupt in the world.

While launching the campaign this Thursday, September 8, 2016, the President said, “The long-cherished and time-honoured, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighbourliness, and patriotism have given way in the main to dishonesty, intolerance, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.” According to the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who launched the multimedia format of the campaign which goes by the name “Change Begins With Me”, the campaign has no religious, political, cultural or social connotation but applies to everybody. Rapidly Nigerians round the world have taken to social media to debate on the latest move by their President. It has now received a code name “#ChangeBeginsWithMe” campaign and has drawn uncountable number of comments. According to Dr. Dipo Awojide, there are four major things to do: get to work on time, do your job diligently, offer great customer service, and don’t ask for bribes. To a certain Mr. Jag, it is a two-way thing; while the government is asking its citizens to change, the government should also change.

Others have downplayed the campaign and see it as a waste of time. Timi Akegbejo said, “It is another thoughtless-even lazy attempt by this President to blame Nigerians for his failure”, while to T. Ranking, the President cannot be launching a campaign when Nigerians are hungry and crime rates are on the rise.

This is not the first time President Buhari is launching a moral rearmament campaign in Nigeria. In his speech on the last Independence Day celebration on October 1, 2015, Muhammadu Buhari called on Nigerians to change from their indiscipline ways in the hospitals, schools, and job sites in order to face the challenging economic times and foster development. However, even though there has been some progress in Nigeria, the common man in the street is still languishing in poverty coupled with violence from the north of the country caused by Boko Haram.

Since Muhammadu Buhari became President of Nigeria last year, he has been working hard to see that Nigeria becomes a morally upright country. Many corrupt officials have been arrested even some military men who are suspected of syphoning money meant for the fight against Boko Haram. However, as Buhari makes speeches, he must go beyond just the promises and ensure that Nigerians belief in his slogans becoming reality. Since development is best when it is bottom-up, it would be an added advantage for Buhari to take the pulse of the nation before embarking on any such projects. Nigeria needs cleansing and the best way of doing it is when the people are part of the policy making and also part of the executing process. Moreover, examples of moral reawakening has to come from the top in order to impress the common man in the streets whose votes the regime would be needing in the next electoral meeting.

However, it is a good beginning which should be copied by other African leaders. Some years ago, the government of Cameroon launched the CHOC program (Change Habit Oppose Corruption) which Cameroonians are yet to see its benefits on the ground. It is only been heard of when the Prime Minister holds meetings, once in a blue moon, and the promises end only on papers. Sometime ago, the President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, initiated a scheme whereby he visits the local population with his cabinet members and before the President each Minister would be called up to receive questions directly from the population based on any project or promises made previously. In so doing, even the common man had an opportunity to address his worries to the top management which also contributed in making the country the least corrupt in Africa.