By Ehi Ekhator
Few days ago, notwithstanding the non-verbal communication of frustration by the President, he approached Nigerians to begin the change, which he (Buhari) promised the country.
This is coming barely a month in the wake of propelling the same oppressive law that placed him in the world map as a dictator when he initially ruled. He relaunched “war against indiscipline” which led to the brutality and unjust treatment of Nigerians between 1983 and 1985
Haven’t failed in that, he raised a bill asking the National Assembly to give him control so he could change the economy over night. Another move that has been turned down or might be turned down by the legislators who think that such power could make the National Assembly unable to fulfill its duties.
On September 16, 2016, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Director General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari, put forth a statement preparing Nigerians to “entrench the values of accountability, integrity and positive attitudinal change” an objective the government intended to achieve through a campaign called “Change begins with me”
This sudden move has demonstrated the point that President Buhari is incredibly confounded. It demonstrates that the President as well as his administration (including his ministers) are all busy with what to say so as to persuade Nigerians that they are competent. Change starts with me? Truly?
If anyone should launch that crusade, it should be the idea of Nigerians asking the government to start the change. Everyone wants leadership by example.
According to Lai Mohammed on the said campaign: “About three to five years back now, the role models in the society were people of doubtful character. Money was worshipped; nobody cared where and how one got the money; these were the misplaced value that we are tackling now.”
In an attempt to shift blames the Information Minister added: that what was wrong with Nigeria was not limited to the elite, the political class and the civil service. If we desire that change, he argued, it must address all the issues and target every strata of the society.”
Then, Abari added: “The fight against corruption must not begin with the government; people must be in the vanguard of fighting corruption. He added that “our schools, roads, hospitals should have been better than what they are now, but corruption has stalled their development.
Nigeria’s problems have an inseparable tie to the political elites. What this administration declined to account for was the responses of Nigerians, including the supporters of the current administration.
The question: Who did the government award the inflated contracts of the schools, roads and hospitals to?
Mr. Abari is interested in a woman who uses chemical to forcefully ripen banana and a petrol attendant who alleged not to have change when he could not advise his boss, Buhari on how much he has tied to his Presidential fleet.
The President reportedly has about 10 planes in the presidential fleet worth millions of dollars and if sold would save the country a fortune to address the current economic challenges.
Addressing the people during the launch of the campaign on September 9, President Buhari said, “Our citizens must realise that the change they want to see begins with them, and that personal and social reforms are not a theoretic exercise. If you have not seen the change in you, you cannot see it in others or even the larger society.
“The campaign we are about to launch today is all about the need for us to see change, not merely in terms of our economic, social progress but in terms of our personal behaviour on how we conduct ourselves, engage our neighbours, friends and generally how we relate with the larger society in a positive and definitive way and manner that promotes our common good and common destiny, change at home, change in work place, change at traffic junction, change at traffic lights, etc.”
When Buhari came into power, it was speculated that the President was planning selling some aircrafts in the Presidential fleet. But his aides quickly debunked the speculation, stressing that the President would make a public announcement if such move would be taken.
According to one statement, one of the Presidential aides said “If anything like that was being contemplated, the presidency would issue a statement through its official channels to announce it” This response was a disappointment as Nigerians were very motivated hoping things would change from the President. The Presidential fleet was one of the things that bothered Nigerians during previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking on the campaign for change, a Nigerian blogger, Japhet Omojuwa said, “Change begins with selling the presidential jets”. Three Presidential aircrafts are enough.
The annual cost of their maintenance is put at N12bn and the current market value is over $100m (N31,558,500,000.00), A falcon 900, one of the President’s planes costs about $35 million; Gulfstream IVSP is worth over $40 million; Gulfsream V has a market value of over $45m; Cessna Citation is over $10m and the Hawker Siddeley is about $15m.
The total annual cost of maintaining each of the presidential jets would be over N20bn in a country where the ordinary citizens could not afford a decent meal a day.
If the President’s ‘change begins with me’ will succeed, the government officials, not only the President and the Vice President will lead by example. This is the President’s tough call. He needs to take a fresh look at his administration and the promises and the role his officials can play in fulfilling those promises and the agenda that brought APC to power.
Ekhator writes via [email protected]