President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sept. 8, will inaugurate “Change Begins with Me,” a national campaign against indiscipline and a push towards revival of cultural ideals and values.
The campaign to be inaugurated in Abuja is introduced by the Ministry of Information and Culture to promote good values and complement the efforts of government at fighting corruption.
However, some Nigerians have asked why is government inaugurating this campaign now and will it be a replica of the March 1984 War Against Indiscipline (WAI) Decree of the then military administration of Buhari and Gen. Tunde Idiagbon.
Some concerned Nigerians have also observed that Nigeria, made up of rich and diverse cultural values, has lost most of its cultural ideals and there is the need for their revival through a programme.
A former head of Interim Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, once stressed on the need for Nigerians to revive the socio-cultural values that have helped to define the country in the past.
“Insecurity, kidnapping and other challenges confronting the country are the manifestations of the debasement of values in the country,’’ he said.
He noted that these socio-cultural values were cardinal to development in any country and would place the country in an enviable height, if quickly revived.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, also observed that “it is only the restoration of values that can enable good governance to thrive.
“As a nation, we must reclaim these values because they are strongly eroding quickly.’’
In his opinion, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the campaign would restore the critical values of decency, diligence, hard work, humility, integrity and honesty which had eluded the nation.
The minister, who was a guest at a special forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the campaign would also help to build citizens that could appreciate the values of accountability, integrity and industry.
“About two to five years back now, the role model in the society are people of doubtful character.
“Money is worshipped, nobody cares where and how you get the money, these are the misplaced values that we are tackling now,” he said.
The minister said that the campaign would involve every category of persons in the society and address the shortcomings of every profession and jobs.
He said that the campaign would link every ill in the society to its consequences and feature slogans that could be easily assimilated by the people on correction of such ills.
“We believed that what is wrong with Nigeria is not limited to the elite, the political class and the civil service, if we want that change therefore, it must address all the issues and target every strata of the society,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) would be the flagship agent that would drive the campaign and ensure it gets to the grassroots.
He said NOA would ensure its success in the states and the local government areas and schools while the traditional rulers and leaders of faith-based organisations would help in driving the campaign.
As part of the campaign, the minister said that government might reintroduce civic and hygiene education in primary and secondary schools.
“If we do not change their values and views at this formative stage it becomes a bit more difficult.
“I remember in those days when we went to school, the first thing while on the assembly is for our teachers to inspect us.
“If just one button is missing from your uniform, you will go back home.
“They will look at your nails; there must be no dirt underneath. They also inspect our teeth. All those things are what built us to be what we are today,’’ he said.
The minister also recalled that in school in those days, the system made it compulsory for the students to plant flowers, engage in compulsory gardening and poultry keeping.
“These are the kind of orientation that we need to re-introduce into our schools to change our values and orientation,’’ he said.
Corroborating the minister’s position on the need for the campaign, Mr Garba Abari, the Director-General of NOA, said that people must lead the vanguard for change to restore societal values.
According to him, change must start with the people in the little things they do in their families, place of work and responsibilities.
“What would you say about a woman who uses chemical to forcefully ripen banana and sell it to the public; what about a woman who would use a padded standard of measurement to sell rice.
“A petrol attendant who would claim not to have change so that the buyer would leave the change; all these are indiscipline,’’ Abari said.
He alleged that some lecturers in tertiary institutions also engaged in indiscipline as they sell handouts to students, while lazy students could do anything to pass examinations.
According to him, the change must start at the individual level, which will inevitably extend to the society and country at large.
“Nobody is happy with the way indiscipline has relegated the country to its present situation.
“We the citizens must take a second hard look at what we did wrong that we will not do tomorrow,’’ he said.
The minister said that although the campaign was not a replication of the WAI, it would achieve the same goal using different means.
“In 1984, they used what they had to achieve what they wanted which was to correct the decadence in society, rife, corruption and impunity.
“However, in the area of enforcement of WAI, people alleged infractions and intimidation.
“But here, we are going to use the media to appeal to people. We are going to use persuasion, instead of coercion and intimidation.
“Our various platforms will be radio, television, print media, bill boards, social media and the likes.
“Parts of our campaigns will also be concerts which will be sponsored by people in the private sector,’’ he said.
The minister, therefore, solicited the support of the private sector and every Nigerian in particular towards the success of the campaign.