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Begin the change, Buhari charges Nigerians

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President Muhammadu Buhari has decried “lawlessness” and “loss of values” among Nigerians as major challenges impeding Nigeria’s socio-economic progress.

The president, who spoke at the launch of the Change-Begins-With-Me campaign in Abuja yesterday, said erosion of the nation’s value system was largely responsible for the state of affairs. He consequently called for attitudinal change among Nigerians in their public and private lives for the development of the nation.

Altogether, President Buhari’s 10-minute speech was an appeal for unconditional patriotism and sacrifice for economic growth and national development.

He specifically mentioned economic sabotage in the Niger Delta as a major economic challenge. Led by the Niger Delta Avengers, militants in the region have, in the last one y ear, shut in more than 700,000 barrels of daily oil production, reducing the country’s crude output by close to 50 per cent. Dwindling global prices of crude, together with output challenges, have also put limits to Nigeria’s revenue from oil, even as government mouths its diversification into agriculture.

Canvassing friendliness, good conduct and attitudinal change among Nigerians, Buhari also stressed the need for the consolidation of the progress made in the fight against corruption. According to him, the effect of derailment in the value system was being felt across social, political and economic spheres.

The president’s speech was sequel to that of his Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who explained that the objective of the campaign was to achieve paradigm shift in the way Nigerians do things.

The president said: “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 to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.”

He added: “It is the reason some youths would take to cultism and brigandage instead of studying hard or engaging in decent living. It is the reason some elements would break pipelines and other oil facilities, robbing the nation of much-needed resources. It is the reason money belonging to our commonwealth would be brazenly stolen by the same public officials to whom it was entrusted. It is the reason motorists drive through red traffic lights. It is the reason many engage in thuggery and vote stealing during elections.”

According to the president, the campaign is all about the need for Nigerians to see change, not merely in terms of economic and social progress but also in terms of conduct, friendliness and how “we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner that promotes our common good and common destiny.”

He disclosed that the campaign was part of the determination by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government to carry Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that all could be proud of.

“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 till 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.”

He appealed to Nigerians to join the initiative and realise that the change they hoped to see begins with them.

He said: “If you have not seen the change in you, you cannot see it in others or even in 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?’’

However, the devastation of Boko Haram terrorists and violent incursions of Fulani herdsmen in parts of the country, failed to make the president’s long list of challenges negating Nigeria’s socio-economic progress.


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