On September 8, 2016, President Buhari launched the “Change Begins with Me” campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign has been judged by many as yet another way by the president and his party to shift blames.
In his inaugural speech, the President said “Our citizens must realize that the change they want to see begins with them, and that personal and social reforms are not a theoretic exercise. If you have not seen the change in you, you cannot see it in others or even the larger society.”
The questions many are asking are: how have the president and his cohorts shown that the change has begun with them? Are they not supposed to lead by example? For an administration that is known for blame shifting, is this not yet another show of irresponsibility? It is doubtful that change has begun in a leader and a party that keep going back on their campaign promises without respect for their electorate.
To make matters worse, it was revealed a week after the campaign was launched that part of the president’s speech was actually taken from President Obama’s 2008 inaugural speech.
In the reaction to the plagiarism incident on Twitter by the president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the very first statement reads, "1. PMB has ordered that prompt & appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for a wrongful insertion in his speech.."
A leader who “starts” a rejoinder with an assertion to go after “those responsible for wrongful insertion” of a blunder he publicly made is irresponsible. Not only was it unfortunate that a campaign targeted at encouraging integrity was tainted with plagiarism, the presidency proved Nigerians right - by its response - that the campaign is yet another tactic to shift the blame of incompetence to the citizens. Leadership is taking responsibility.
How can Citizens accept a Mindset Change Campaign?
Everything rises and falls on leadership. Nigerians are not goats who like to break laws at any given opportunity – as we have been made to believe. The crux of the problem is that the vast majority of Nigerians live for survival and with scarcity mentality – irrespective of level of income.
At the survival zone, the irrational is made rational – with logic. Over the years, the emotional, logical, physical, economic, intellectual and social well-being of Nigerians have been bastardized by those they entrusted the management of our common resources to. People had to look for other means to keep heads above waters.
People had to sell goods by the roadsides (traffic disruption) so as to put food on the table; people had to make sure their own get jobs through their professional and business contacts (nepotism); people had to bribe traffic law officers (bribery) to avoid being arrested over a driver’s license (renewal) the government made almost impossible to get without bribing, or being wrongly accused - with evidence; people had to lobby their children into higher institutions (favouritism) because the system does not honour merit; people had to collect bags of rice during elections (aiding corruption) because 99% of the time, politicians will not fulfill their promises.
All these are survival techniques, and they are naturally developed as responses to threats.
These attitudes sure need to change. However, to get people to change their habit, you have to lead with sincerity and integrity, and provide the enabling environment, confidence, assurance, incentives and/or the benefits derivable. It is a simple principle of societal mindset change.
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