Cheta Nwanze: Change begins with me

I was once told a story…

A man, at the end of his life, called his children together to tell them about his legacy. When he was young he began, he wanted to change the world. As he got older, and he accepted that he could not change the world, he decided to scale down, and attempt to change his country. But as that proved too difficult, he scaled down further, and decided to try and change his town. But even that proved a bridge too far, so he decided to focus on his family. Even that, proved impossible. Towards the end of his life, he realised that he would have had more of an impact, if he had focused on changing himself. You see, had he managed to change himself, his family might have taken notice, and changed themselves. Had all of them changed, then maybe his town would have taken notice, and changed as well. Had his town changed, then maybe his country would have taken notice, and changed as well. Such a change, could have then affected the world.

With that in mind, the President’s #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign is not exactly erroneous, though I am the first to admit that it is misguided.

Yes, we can make all the arguments about timing, arrogance, etcetera, and the truth is, not one argument, both by the President’s acolytes, and by the increasingly numerous voices of dissent, are wrong. But not one of the arguments is a big picture argument.

Does Nigeria require a change? Yes.

Do Nigerians need to change their attitude? Yes.

Is President Buhari the right man to initiate that change? A year ago, I’d have said yes. Now, I’m not sure, but I’m leaning towards “no”.

Any campaign telling Nigerians to change needs to ask some questions. Permit me to ask them here:
Which change does Nigeria need?
Where does the change start from?
Who needs to drive this change?
What will be the effect of this change?

Most importantly, HOW, will this change be achieved?

You see, if we don’t ask these, and other questions that may arise, and if we fail to answer them correctly, then #ChangeBeginsWithMe will simply end up being another empty slogan, like #Change has turned out to be.

You see, last year, so many of us picked up our brooms and shouted #Change, and almost criminally neglected to ask whether it was a good change, or a bad change. That refusal to query what we were getting ourselves into is haunting not a few of us now. So we have to ask, and attempt to answer…

Which change does Nigeria need?

Nigeria needs the kind of change that will ensure that the gateways to our country are no longer monumental national embarrassments. A first time visitor to Nigeria who lands at the MMIA will be forgiven for thinking that he has just been transported back a few centuries. Our major international airport smells of stale urine, and of all the international airports I have been to (I’ve been to 21), it’s the only one that has an abandoned project just outside the arrivals hall. If first impressions make decisions, as we are told they are, then we have to change that. Basically, we need to care more. About ourselves, about our environment…

Where does this change start from?

The President’s answer is “You”. He is right. What he forgot though is that when you point a finger, four are pointing back at you. President Buhari’s way of telling us that we need to change was condescending, and smacked of breaking a campaign promise: “I will lead from the front”. The average Nigerian is a promise breaker. We have taken the cue from various presidents in times past. So my dear President, you need to bring about this change. And we will learn from you. Oh, a good way to start, sell those planes…

Who needs to drive this change?

To be honest, if 180 millions of people start attempting to drive a process at the same time, we will be left with a ruckus, which frankly we can do without. Someone, or a group of people, need to drive this change. For the most part, this someone, or group of people, are called the government. Unfortunately, it would appear that our government is attempting to abdicate its responsibility to we, the people, by telling us to drive the change. Here is a suggestion on how the government can begin to get on track: this morning, news broke that the President’s speech starting the campaign was plagiarised. To be honest, in this country, plagiarism is something we have never taken seriously. It is easy, and nothing happens, so what better incentive? Let us draw the line now. Mr. President may have delivered the speech, but someone else wrote it. Without apology I can’t hold Muhammadu Buhari responsible for it. I hold this as yet to be named speechwriter responsible. Let us begin driving the change by making that person pay with his job. If that’s done, then we can begin to believe that our government is ready to take on its responsibility of driving this change.

What will be the effect of this change?

Well, the answer to this question depends on the answers to the previous three. If they are answered correctly, then the effect of the change will be a better country for us to bequeath to our children. On the other hand, we are currently on a trajectory to real trouble. If we are less than honest with our answers, we will continue on this trajectory, and you do not, if you are a realist, need a prophet to tell you where will we end up. The picture is not pretty.

Final question — HOW will this change be achieved?

Well, I’ve thought about it. But you want to know? Shoot me a mail, which I’ll respond to with my account details…


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

This article was first published HERE

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