By James Ogunjimi
After all is said and done, the ‘change begins with me’ campaign is a very good one. But I have two issues with it.
1) Timing: The timing is all wrong. Almost as wrong as the “Let us learn to respect each other’s religion” statement after the Kano killing and the reintroduction of the WAI brigade.
We are in a recession. If there’s any war to be fought, it should be a war to eradicate poverty, to create jobs, to bring back investors that have left, to stop the naira’s azonto dance. You cannot be preaching discipline to hungry people. You cannot preach change to people whose lives have been messed up by the chanters of the change mantra without first making their lives better. You cannot refuse to feed your goat and expect to leave your goat and your yams in one room and expect your yams to be safe.
2) Equity: “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” When you look at the apostles of the “change begins with me” campaign, you see a group of people who are disconnected from the reality and suffering of the common man.
In their world, recession is just a word. Recession is only more than a word in worlds they hear of occassionally but have never been unfortunate to visit.
None of the apostles of the “change begins with me” campaign have volunteered to take pay cuts. None of them have volunteered to start flying economy. The presidency that expressed shock at the number of private jets maintained by the previous administration has not sold off those private jets.
Responsible leaders don’t lead battles from the safety of their comfort zones, they step out and lead from the front. That’s the only way the led can follow the leader. You don’t chant battle cries from the sidelines, no, you step into the war front and lead.
The ruling class has no moral standing to preach change to ordinary people until they show through their actions that they are themselves championing the change through visible actions devoid of technicalities and reducing national suffering to mere words.
In the final analysis, the “change begins with me” campaign is something that should have been launched in an FEC meeting, making its first year exclusive to the President, VP, Ministers, all political appointees, Directors, Senators, HOR members and all elected officials.
Its success after one year, if visible, should make it “sellable” to the ordinary Nigerian who would then need no convincing.
James Ogunjimi is a writer with flair for prose and poetry. His writings have appeared in Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, Praxis Magazine, Sahara Reporters, Premium Times, Times African, Pambazuka, African Spotlight, etc. His debut novel, “A Wall is Just a Wall” is set to be published by Bahati Books, UK.