''Change Begins With Me'' is leadership-driven - Minister

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said President Muhammadu Buhari and his entire cabinet has been living true to the national re-orientation campaign ''Change Begins With Me'' long before it was publicly unveiled last month.

Speaking at the unveiling of the campaign to Corporate Nigeria in Lagos on Thursday, the Minister said that President Buhari demonstrated that change begins with him when he rejected the purchase of new vehicles upon assumption of office and also directed his convoy not to break traffic rules.

''The President demonstrated leadership when he rejected the purchase of new vehicles for his use, thus saving 400 million Naira. Thanks to his action, no Minister purchased new vehicles, saving millions more. Then upon assuming office, the President instructed his convoy to always respect traffic rules. The Ministers all followed suit. Today Ministers queue up at airports and filling stations. Their lifestyle is devoid of any ostentation. The Federal Executive Council is not
left behind. The weekly FEC Meeting starts on time. Indeed, change started with us a long time ago,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed explained that the campaign was actually designed to start from the President, Vice President, Ministers and other top government officials and then cascade down to all citizens, adding: ''It is therefore wrong to see it as an attempt to saddle ordinary citizens with any burden without a commensurate effort from the leadership.''

Giving the reason for the campaign, he said it was aimed at ''achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things'',

''In simple parlance, it is geared towards achieving an attitudinal change. As they say, you cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. Against the background that our core values have witnessed a total breakdown in the past years, it is imperative that we re-orientate ourselves with a view to restoring those time-tested values.

''Some critics have wondered why we are launching this campaign at this time. They say Nigerians are hungry and need food, not campaign. What they don't realize is that part of the reason we have found ourselves in this sorry pass is our attitude. Our fetish for consumption of imported goods has helped to deplete our foreign reserves, part of the reasons our local currency is now very weak, with dire consequences. Our preference for foreign goods against the ones we produce has been detrimental to our manufacturing companies, leading to loss of jobs. Of course without jobs, our ability to feed or meet our daily obligations is affected.

''What about our attitude to work, the thousands of man-hours that we waste for one reason or another? What about the mindless corruption that contributed to where we are today? Indeed, there is no better time than now to launch this campaign. This is because if miraculously the price of oil shoots up to 100 dollars per barrel and the economy improves today, without an attitudinal change that encompasses honesty, diligence and shunning of imported goods, we will be back to
the same situation in which we have found ourselves today,'' the Minister said.

While appealing to the private sector to support Change Begins With Me, he quoted from the President's speech at the public launch of the campaign on Sept. 8th, in which he said: ''Indeed when the campaign succeeds, it will impact heavily on the private sector. A punctual, diligent and hardworking staff can only be to the benefit of not just himself or herself or the organization they work, for to the various governments whether at local, state or Federal level.''

In his presentation, Alhaji Mohammed outlined the different options available to the private sector to key into the campaign, including Platinum, Gold, Diamond and Channel partnerships.

Some representatives of the private sector, who spoke at the event, expressed their support for the campaign, saying it could not have come at a better time.