1) President Buhari has promised to sanction folks who plagiarized President Obama in his “change begins with me” speech. That is a welcome development and I commend him for swiftly admitting the error. However:
2) The President and his people must understand that Nigerians should and will take that promise with two and a half grains of salt.
3) The President and his people must understand that this is yet another opportunity handed them to make change begin with Aso Rock Villa at a symbolic and an exemplary level. We are a society of crime without consequence. If we are to change to a society of crime and punishment, there is no better nationally symbolic place for that change to start than in small small things in the Villa.
4) The last time the President promised to punish wrong doers, he returned from Mecca and shuffled the erring and budget-padding civil servants around in the same system and that counted for punishment.
5) This leaves the real possibility that the President’s understanding of punishing his plagiarizing speechwriters could be to shuffle them from writing his domestic speeches to writing his international speeches. Next, you will hear that they were barred from writing home speeches and allowed to write only the speech he will deliver in the coming days at the UN General Assembly in New York.
6) When your speech writers plagiarize, it is still your speech. The mess is yours. After punishing them, you apologize to the people. Forget grandiose acts. Start with these little little little daily things. A symbolic, almost unnoticeable act of change in style here, a symbolic, almost unnoticeable act of change in substance there… it will add up to a gradual change in the system and you won’t need empty campaigns and sloganeering. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, said our English colonizers. Oho, you mean mighty yams from little seedlings grow, we replied.
7) Don’t let anybody deceive you that it is just a mild case of plagiarism and people are making a mountain out of a molehill. Seize the moment, punish the offending speech writers, apologize, and change would have begun with you!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English, is Director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Canada.