Should change begin with me or President Buhari?

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The foregoing remark credited to and drawn from the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari during the launch of the National Re-orientation Campaign tagged Change Begins With Me, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, is, to say the least, quite unbecoming of the President. Indeed, the man who is now a proverbial tortoise that once upon a time assured all animals at the beginning of their journey, of an existing promised land, like an Eldorado, and only for it (the same tortoise) to announce in the course of the journey, and to the chagrin of all animals, that the so-called promised land which they had all set out to behold and possess was the same as the land they had just left in search of milk and honey (thus obviating the need for their journey). But unlike what obtained in the old (and abandoned) land, all animals were now individually saddled with the responsibilities of tracing and accessing the new Kingdom through the different paths apparently leading to it, basically because the main entrance to the promised land was practically unknown. This tale in a nutshell, aptly illustrates the analogous (abrupt) paradigm shift in the APC’s and/or President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘change slogan’ afterthought called Change Begins With Me.

Of course, it is almost unbelievable that the same man who – with hindsight – apparently tricked the electorate into voting him into power with an unmistakable promise of a positive change in the living standard of all, is today squarely pontificating about a clearly diversionary tactic called Change Begins With Me, and, as it were, almost patronising both the hungry and the angry for “failing” to first of all ask themselves what they have done to change their ways before expecting the government to change their lives.

As it were, many an APC supporter would have by now definitely found it extremely difficult to fathom the essence of this seemingly derogatory remark against the people made by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari, which, critically viewed, ought not to have arisen in the very first place. And the reason for this thinking is not far-fetched. For one, a campaign promise of change made to the people remains a campaign promise, and so it does not necessarily follow in a thriving democracy that the people must be willing to dance to the tune and/or comply with the dictates, wishful thinking, whims and caprices of their elected representatives, before the latter could be reasonable enough to bring to fruition all that had been promised during the electioneering. Therefore, it makes no sense at all for anybody, be that Mr. President or whoever, to begin to impress it on the masses to alter their ways as a condition precedent for being “entitled” to demand, inter alia, that the APC-led government accomplish its campaign promises.

Ironically, though, the same President who now appears to be patronising Nigerians and scoffing at their increasing demand for a positive change to take effect as promised by the All Progressives Congress, is yet to repent of his own old ways or, better still, renounce his ethnic and religious preferences and inclination towards people and issues of national importance. Evidently, there is no gainsaying that his glaringly lopsided appointments so far still reek of and speak volumes about facts associated with his unpalatable past.

Truth be told, the APC is simply deceiving itself, not Nigerians, by the launch of this misleading Change Begins With Me. For goodness sake, how on earth will change begin with Nigerians who, despite their enormous struggles nowadays, often end up managing to eke out a miserable existence as a result of the continuous increase in price of everything in the market: food stuffs, clothing, building materials, writing materials, just name them? Yet, in the face of all this, an appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari, Bayo Onanuga (the Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria), would have the temerity to blurt out the hogwash that the current bitter reality of an unprecedented hardship in the country is mere “propaganda” reportedly created by a section of the media to discredit the “change” government.

What is more, as we know, the President still dilly-dallies to dispose of the fleet of Presidential aircraft in the State House, which of course is another negation of his campaign promise. But funny enough, the news report making rounds in this regard is that a committee has been set up to look into the matter with a view to making appropriate recommendations on the subject. Nevertheless, the big question is: must this so-called ‘change’ government continue with the obsolete tradition of setting up committees for virtually every minute decision that needs to be taken? Or, even granted the need for that, will it then take years for the so-called committee to submit its report?

All said, lest we get it wrong, change is good and, more so, imperative for Nigeria and Nigerians, but (in my opinion) not yet good enough for emulation from the mouth, actions and/or inactions of “our” President. Therefore, more than anyone else, true and positive change needs to begin with President Muhammadu Buhari in much the same way it should be seen to be manifest in his actions and inactions.

• Chiduluemije, a journalist, writes from Abuja

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