Nigerians must begin to see the fight against corruption as genuine and not a tool to cut short the potential of the opposition while loyal politicians are left untouched. It is only after corrupt politicians are being sought after to answer for their crimes of corruption and are made to pay gravely for it that Nigerians will begin to realise that our government is serious about the “Change Begins With Me” campaign.
Yes, President Buhari rightly said it: Nigeria today is passing through a challenging moment where hardly anything works in a normal manner and many have attributed this phenomenon to the total breakdown of our core values over the years. Yes, it is true that honesty, hard work and Godliness have given way to all kinds of manifestations of lawlessness and degeneration in our national life. Yes, it is also true that there is need for us to see change not merely in terms of our economic and social progress but in terms of our personal behaviour in how we conduct ourselves, engage our neigbhours, friends and generally how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner that promotes our common good and destiny.
However, the question is what efforts in the fight against corruption in our public life by President Buhari’s administration are Nigerians supposed to consolidate? Is it the fight that is selective in its approach where those in the opposition are being hunted and the repented ones who have joined the ranks of the ruling party have been forgiven and pardoned? This selective approach towards fighting corruption in our public life which I have tagged: the broom and the doorpost approach, is what brings to fore the questioning of the genuiness of the “Change Begins With Me” campaign, asking if this is not yet another diversion and bureaucratic propaganda?
Is there really progress achieved so far to be entrenched and consolidated? I say no, what we have seen is the selective rain of bringing corrupt individuals to justice once in the opposition, while treating their corrupt allies differently, instead of having a uniform rain of justice falling on both members of the ruling party and opposition alike, for it is only then that Nigerians will realise that Buhari-led administration is truly committed to returning sanity to our public and private lives. The journey to a better and greater society that we all can be proud of is not that whose path is founded upon political bias and selective justice.
For what is inherent in political bias and selective justice is degeneration in the personal and public lives, and grave erosion of long-standing national values. The “Change Begins With Me” campaign by President Buhari is a good initiative meant to encourage Nigerians to change their attitude towards life, their neighbours and their country; an attitude which is not impressive and not good enough to stimulate development nor initiate progress. The reality that must dawn upon President Muhammadu Buhari is that this campaign is impotent without making an example out of the corrupt political class indiscriminately. Without this, Nigerians would never take serious the idea of changing their attitude.
Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress which our Coat of Arms read are part of a reality that is relatively strange to us, for we are more familiar with the stagnancy that stems from corruption and indifferent attitudes, which past governments had perpetrated. It is this indifference to corruption that has further enshrined the promotion of selfish interests as a national value, instead of sacrifice and the strive for communal interests. It is the selfish interest of government officials, the indifference to and promotion of corruption that changed the sacrificial attitude of Nigerians and their communal interest into gross selfishness and greed, which I do not think will change anytime soon for it has become part and parcel of our national values and norms.
For these norms to change will not be an easy task that the initiation of “Change Begins With Me” campaign will make happen because President Buhari’s credibility is enough to flip the magic wand that will make the wish of initiators of this campaign come to pass. For this wish to come to pass, it requires so much more than radio announcements and short recordings that are broadcast on national television stations nationwide. It requires an approach greater, and objective in nature and essence than the doorpost approach of this government towards the fight against corruption.
Nigerians must begin to see the fight against corruption as genuine and not a tool to cut short the potential of the opposition while loyal politicians are left untouched. It is only after corrupt politicians are being sought after to answer for their crimes of corruption and are made to pay gravely for it that Nigerians will begin to realise that our government is serious about the “Change Begins With Me” campaign. It is only after this that Nigerians will realise the seriousness of the government in ensuring that Nigerians change their attitude and allow change to begin with them.
It is only after this that the people will realise that the broadcasts promoting the “Change Begins With Me” campaign are not just commercials as usual but messages intended to plant changes attitude, re-orientate the misinformed, ultimately transforming our attitude to life and formulating new national values that will become the foundation upon which a new Nigeria is to be built. Is this possible? My answer is; why not? Growth, progress, unity and development had once been the hallmark of our efforts and attitude to life in times past and can still be tomorrow. It is left to Nigerians, our government and those we shall elect in the future to determine when this tomorrow will be – next day, next week, next month, next decade or next century.