Opinion: Mr. President, you must be the change we see in our country

by Banjo Damilola

A friend wrote as his Personal Message on Blackberry Messenger; “If change begins with me, I would have voted myself.”

I dare say nothing is personal about that message as it echoes the sentiment of majority of people about President Buhari’s #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign. I, also, share the sentiment.

No, Change does not begin with me or with an average Nigerian collecting N18,000 as minimum wage. No, Change does not begin with my friend who was denied chance during the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recruitment or many Nigerians who were not thought worthy of a job at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS).

No, change does not begin with the Nigerian who had to deposit her child for a bowl of garri. Change should not begin with them, they have changed enough.

I have always believed that the President and his appointees live in a bubble; a world far detached from the reality in Nigeria. It’s quite sad because we had thought Buhari was different; he was a man of integrity who supposedly could not stand corruption, but Nigerians (except the sycophants) have learnt that he, like his predecessor, is just the same.

However, it is our job as citizens who have changed enough to remind these delusional government looters that change begins with them. Change should begin with those who collect hardship allowance for padding budgets and threatening to impregnate themselves while they throw around our taxes.

Change should start from the very person who flew abroad with his maids and cooks just to treat ear infection after awarding millions of naira to a clinic in Aso rock.

Change should start from the eleven aircraft he still maintains with heavy resources in this time of recession when businesses are folding up. Nigerians in foreign schools are stranded, federal schools are on protest rampage because the students lack basic welfare.

He cannot sit as the commander in chief of all luxury and ask Nigerians who lack common necessity to change. It is just selfish but then, what is Nigerian government if not selfish?

Buhari and All Progressive Party cannot wriggle out of ‘change’ they promised us by shifting the responsibility to us. You told us you will lead the change. So far, Buhari’s government has lead nothing but hardship on the ordinary people.

I cannot say this enough, Change should begin with Buhari and his cohorts. Buhari’s government has not only failed to deliver on its promises to Nigerians, it has also taken impunity and indolence to a new level of high. These are the same ills he want to stamp out in Nigerians. Ills that his government blindly legitimizes.

Since Buhari assumed office as the president of this country, the only thing his administration has done best is point fingers. Now, the government must point finger at us; ordinary Nigerians. Why is a bag of rice now sold for twenty thousand naira? Jonathan caused it.

Why don’t we have steady power? Jonathan caused it. Why are foreign investors dumping us? Jonathan caused it. Why is the Dollar looking degradingly down at naira? Oh, Jonathan caused it.

Why is the government not working? I said it before, Jonathan caused it. Why did Buhari have to travel abroad so often? Jonathan caused it. Why will Buhari’s administration fail? Nigerians refused to change.

The idea behind this campaign is not one we have not heard before. It was this same idea that birthed the “Good people, Great Nation” campaign by Prof. Dora Akunyili. Former President Olusegun Obaasanjo too thought the morals of the people was the problem when he launched ‘Heart of Africa’ campaign to rebrand Nigeria and lure investors.

Just like Buhari’s ChangeBeginsWithMe will fail very woefully, Heart of Africa campaign failed, but of course, it was used to as a knife to hack into the national treasury legitimately. My pain is this, government in, government out, these people keep insulting our sense of worth; shading us in all colour of decadence and exulting themselves as the saints who have the path to our redemption.

I must say, the purpose of the campaign was well crafted and the president reeled it out with complementing emotions but he faced the wrong audience. The Change campaign is meant to “entrench the value of accountability, integrity and positive attitudinal change in Nigerians”.

Sincerely, accountability and integrity are two of the many things we demand from this government. I will rather Buhari print that in a paper, serve it to the senators, representative, ministers and other appointees, then, he as the leader reads it out, while they repeat after him. That will be more productive than insulting ordinary Nigerians whose only life pursuit is surviving each day at a time.

How do you change the mindset of a people where well over half of the youths are unemployed and ninety-nine percent of the entire population live below poverty line? I believe a reasonable government would solve the many challenges that push the citizens to seek dishonorable means of survival.

Nigerians are not all lawless people and “honesty, hard work, Godliness” have not become scarce in Nigeria. I did not gain admission into a tertiary institution in 2009 because I refused to pay for my admission to be ‘worked’.

There are millions of ordinary Nigerians who are honest, Nigerians are some of the most hardworking people in the world. Those who have given up these virtues are the one percent who sit in power and affluence. Mr. President, Let change begin with them.

Mr. President and his government should tell Nigerians if the purportedly recovered loots are from the likes of Mama Iya Iyabo in Bodija or Chukwudi ‘hustling’ in Alaba. The change should start from the rogues who drink and dine with the president every day, not me with a monthly salary that cannot buy Buhari’s shoes, not Yusuf striving to survive in IDP camp.

By the way, we are still waiting for the names of people who looted us dry and how much has been recovered. Let the change start from there. The Change must start from Buhari’s government being transparent and fair in its judgment. Let the change start from those at the top who have it more easily and it will trickle down to the Mechanics and Boli sellers on the street.

Buhari should live up to the change he and his party promised and let change begin with them. Nigerians are called upon to make sacrifices, every benefit they seemingly enjoy from the government is taken away each time hardship rocks the boat of the country.

Different austerity measures were taken to help poor Nigerians tighten their already very tight belt. Now, change must also begin with them? No, we have changed enough. Buhari, deliver the change you promised!

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

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