CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMPAIGN : IMPERATIVES FOR SUCCESS

 Last Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari( PMB)launched the new National Orientation campaign called: Change Begins with me. That same day, INEC was ' compelled ' to postpone the Edo gubernatorial election. In his address at the launch, PMB said " We must resist the temptation to fall on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our Country for so long" I believe that postponing election for partisan reasons is one of those things that PMB was preaching about. Interfering with the independence of INEC,CBN and such other regulatory agencies is part of our 'poisoned' past.

I am one of those who have called for a national reorientation and the broadening and deepening of the fight against corruption. I had fully agreed with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron that Nigeria was fantastically corrupt and opined that merely focusing on the alleged corrupt election funding of the former ruling party was only scratching the surface. So I must congratulate PMB for launching this campaign. I am making this contribution because I wish that the campaign succeeds. And if it must succeed, then the government must first be aware of the following:

. PREACHING ALONE WILL NOT DO
If preaching or sermonizing alone could change Most Nigerians and make them imbibe "the long cherished and time-honoured, time tested values of honesty, integrity, Hardwork,punctuality,good neigbourliness,abhorrence of corruption and patriotism" we will not need PMB at all. Nigeria has one of the greatest number of Churches, mosques and other religious houses in the whole world. Our Pastors and Imams preach and sermonize every Sunday or Friday,including at mid-week prayers and crusade grounds, yet we can not see any difference in the moral tones of many Nigerians between 1983 & 2015. So,we need to do more than preaching or sermonizing. We must remove that 'thing' in our system that makes many people abandon the fear of God when they leave the worship centres.

. MEDIA CAMPAIGNS ALONE WILL NOT CUT MUCH ICE. 
Certainly the Minister Of Information has contractors primed to print flyers, posters and sundry documents to promote the campaign. Our airwaves will soon be filled with all kinds of messages on the 'change begins with me ' theme. Before long, government owned media like Radio Nigeria and the NTA will be carrying loads of slogans and advertorials in an effort to create awareness. If fliers, documents and radio jingles alone could be successful in stopping Many Nigerians from " dishonesty ,indolence, unbridled corruption and wide-spread impunity", we will not need to spend our limited budget on such activities. All the Bibles, Quarans, Television & Radio evangelism, and religious literature preach the same message. Then all the investment made in fliers ,Radio & TV Jingles by the National Orientation Agency( NOA) from the days of Prof Jerry Gana through the years of Prof Dora Akunyili to this day will have made some meaningful impact. There must be something fundamentally wrong with our system that undermines these efforts.

. ROAD SHOWS ALONE WILL NOT MAKE IT HAPPEN
Soon the Ministry of information and its parastatals like the NOA will embark on series of road shows, with music, drumming and dancing, perhaps with comedians and Nollywood artists to promote the campaign, similar with our newly learnt social mobilization tactics of Town Hall meetings. Nigerians will enjoy the music and drama, they may even struggle to get copies of  the fliers, brochures or mementos but the impact will be minimal if at all.

. PATRIOTISM CANNOT BE LEGISLATED OR ENFORCED
To make Nigerians love their country and wish to die for it,can not be forced and achieved by propaganda. If they are cheated and discriminated against by their own country, they probably will prefer to be cheated and discriminated against because of their  skin colour in other countries . If their Country loves and cares for them, they will love their Country back.
I say these, because we have tried all these from the days of MAMSER to these days and many people believe that Nigeria's moral tone is worsening. Have we really undertaken a proper study to find out why, before starting out with this new campaign?. May be or may be not, but I will proffer the following imperatives.

1. UTMOST SINCERITY
Because of the failed past attempts and the deep-seated skepticism of the Nigerian populace, the Leadership must be very very sincere in handling this very critical project. Such statement as" in other words,before you ask' where is the change they promised us', you must first ask how far have I changed my ways" may be interpreted in different ways. For some people, it will sound as if PMB  was now passing the buck for the change he promised to Nigerians, that they must change before expecting to see the change he promised!

2. LEADERSHIP FROM THE POLITICAL CLASS
Nigerians look up to their political leaders to lead the change. If they refuse to change,then we may have great difficulty achieving any change in the populace. When the political leaders act in ways that show them up as essentially seeking their own and their group's selfish interests, when the political class terrorize and push out poor Nigerians from the roads with their motorized and militarized convoys or when the roads and airports are closed for hours just because the President wants to visit his farm, rather than inspire change, make ordinary Nigerians bitter. When ordinary Nigerians are loosing their jobs and businesses and having difficulty feeding properly, to see political leaders keep theirs and continue to swim in affluence and pageantry will not inspire change!

3. GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES MUST JOIN THE QUEUE 
Literally speaking, government officials, including the police, the military and regulatory officials must join the queue. They can not inspire change when they beat queues, drive against the traffic, disobey court rulings, involve in extra-judicial executions and perpetrate impunity.  The government must be hard on itself and agencies to lead a successful "cultural" or behavioural  change.

4. MOTIVATE CHANGE BY ADOPTING CARROT & STICK
In Management sciences we speak of motivating change,encouraging good Behaviour  and discouraging bad Behaviour. What incentives are we putting in place to make people see the benefit for change and what deterrence do we have to make people regret bad Behavior? Without these, the change we desire may not be sustainable. At the minimum we must be even-handed in enforcing existing laws and regulations. How do we make the interest of the ordinary Nigerians to align with the interest of the Nation? That will be the game changer. Normal people do not destroy what they own nor work against their own interest.

5. RUN A SYSTEM WHERE JUSTICE , EQUITY & FAIR-PLAY REIGN SUPREME
Many Nigerians who are unruly,indisciplined,discourteous and dishonest at home become law abiding and well behaved when they travel or live abroad. Why? They operate in systems that are well ordered,where one rule applies to all( big & small, poor & rich); where you get what is due you without crying and groveling and where you get knocked back on line if you misstep.Secondly, we must enthrone a system that is fair to all sections of the Country. When a President or Governor or even business leader chooses to discriminate against a section of his constituency, or goes on to appoint predominantly people from his own area to high offices, he can not be inspiring patriotism amongst those who feel discriminated against, cheated or ignored.

In conclusion, I am for the 'change begins with me campaign'. But since the fish begins to rot from the head, then it follows that if the head can be kept fresh, then the other parts of the body will remain fresh. So the repair must start from the head. That is the true challenge and my prayer is that God will grant wisdom and humility to our leaders-Public & Private, Military & Civilian to know that the change must start with us and then descend downwards and not the other way round. It is after we have seen this change amply demonstrated by our leaders that we can then begin the preaching, roadshows and media campaign. Otherwise, the campaign may go the way of operation feed the Nation, the green revolution, Better life for the rural women, Health for all, War against Indiscipline, Great Nation-Good People and such failed National programs.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

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