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Change Begins With Me: A call for moral rebirth, By Bernard Balogun

By News Express on 29/09/2016

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I am a great fan of the late Michael Jackson, popularly known as ‘King of Pop’. In one of his evergreen lyrics titled ‘Man in the Mirror’ – which is a good reference material to buttress this subject. Jackson wrote:

“… As I turn up the collar on my favourite winter coat. This wind is blowing my mind. I see the kids in the street; With not enough to eat. Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs. I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could be any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.” So instructive! So apt! A compelling and encouraging message for an appropriate self-appraisal.

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari launched Change Begins with Me campaign: a call for moral rebirth or moral rectitude on the part of the citizens, in both public and private lives. It should be clear in our individual minds that ‘Change Begins with Me’ is certainly not about President Buhari per se, or his government or perhaps All Progressives Congress (APC). As a matter of fact, it is a clarion call not targeted at the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Before I go far, permit me to quickly remark that the former president is, indeed, a man with genuine human feelings. His remark that his victory at the polls does not worth any human blood attests largely to this. Posterity shall be fair to him for graciously accepting defeat in the last general elections. End of digression.

At this point, shall we please endeavour to appropriately understand the word Attitude, which is key to or central in this campaign. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines attitude as: (a) The arrangement of the parts of a body or figure

  (b). a mental position with regard to a fact or state

(c). a feeling or emotion towards a fact or state

(d) a position assumed for a specific purpose.

Given the foregoing definitions of attitude, what does ‘Change Begins With Me’ seek to achieve? I have been repeatedly asked: Will it improve our economy? There is hunger in the land; will ‘Change Begins with Me’ put food on our tables? These are questions begging for answers. I believe that Change Begins with Me can, if we genuinely key into the campaign proper, could turn around our economy. I also believe, rightly so, that Change Begins with Me, can, indeed, put food on our tables. To achieve this, it is certainly not by miracle but by our individual attitudes: if we imbibe moral rectitude and purge ourselves of the corrupt tendencies in us.

Nigerians are encouraged by this campaign to have “a mental position (positive) with regard to a fact or state”, “a position assumed for a specific purpose” (a specific purpose to speak well of your (or our) country and patiently support and believe in the government of the day.

At individual level, Change Begins with Me encourages us for self-examination. Please, think about these: As an adult (and/or worker) who earns about N100,000 per month, including allowances, but living in an apartment of N1,200,000 per annum; has two children in a private school, where he pays N250,000 per term for each, maintains his cars and responds to his family demands. Please note, I have no problem with any person whose legitimate earnings can support these responsibilities. Realistically, can this fellow cope with these? That is the essence of Change Begins with Me campaign. And in the words of Michael Jackson: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways .… If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

A family man who gets drunk every night, but cannot meet his wife’s demand for food allowance at home, such a man encourages disrespect and suspicion from his wife. That is the essence of Change Begins with Me. It calls for moral rectitude. Again, Jackson says: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror . .. I’m asking him to change his ways…. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place; Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

For a top government functionary entrusted with government money to buy weapons that will be used to cleanse the North-East of satanic tendencies, but goes ahead to turn himself to Father Christmas: Change Begins with Me encourages him to purge himself of corrupt tendency and imbibe moral rectitude. As ‘King of Pop’ says, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. ..I’m asking him to change his ways… If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

 A state governor who enjoys special allocation from the Federal Government, due largely to his riverine (disadvantaged) topography, but misapplies such allocation against the greater interest of his people: such a state governor needs to imbibe attitudinal change. Again, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

 For a married woman, knowing her spouse’s financial strength but makes all manners of demand, brings in all her relations to the house as ‘hangers-on’, Change Begins with Me beckons on you for attitudinal change.. .: “I’m starting with the man (woman) in the mirror. I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways ... If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

A young lady, working as a low-class civil servant (or in a private company), earns about N40,000 per month, lives in an apartment of N450,000 per annum, uses an expensive cell-phone costing about N90,000; spends about N6,000 per week on recharge cards, etc. Change Begins with Me encourages her to purge herself of the corrupt tendency. And in the words of Michael Jackson: “I’m starting with the man (woman) in the mirror. I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

A commercial driver whose vehicle has the following deficiencies:

Worn-out tyres, over-speeding, poorly lit headlamp, ineffective brakes, ineffective radiator, etc, yet goes ahead with all of these deficiencies. Consequently, he endangers the lives of his passengers. Such a driver needs attitudinal change. “ I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

The commercial driver, private car-owner (popularly called I go drive myself) and okada riders, who flagrantly beat (or disobeys) traffic lights at inter-sections with impunity; has no valid vehicle particulars, uses phone while driving; does not use seat-belt, drives against traffic. Consequently, he endangers the life of other road-users, etc. Change Begins with Me appeals to him: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

A workman who was paid to provide durable work but goes ahead to use inferior materials, such worker needs to imbibe moral rectitude. Change Begins with Me is, indeed, a clarion call to moral rectitude. And in the words of the late King of Pop: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways ... If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

A student (boy or girl) who rarely attends classes but regularly attends cult activities and expects to score an “A” in class work. If he/she does not, he/she threatens the lecturer. Such student needs to embrace attitudinal change, as follows: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Suicide bombers are not spirits, we are repeatedly told. They are human beings and living among us. Report any suspicious movement. It is not “e no concern me attitude”. Change Begins with Me challenges you and me to report such suspicious characters to the appropriate security agency. And in the immortal words of Michael Jackson: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Change Begins with Me is a clarion call on our brothers and sisters in the various security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, to carry out their constitutional duty with human face, not with the tyrannic instinct as commonly displayed. In the words of ‘King of Pop’: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. .. If you wanna make the world (Nigeria) a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

The list is endless. And that is what Change Begins with Me seeks to achieve. A sane society, where moral rectitude is promoted and attitudinal change permeates the entire landscape. 

In general, Change Begins with Me is a wake-up call to change from our “bad behavioural pattern”, “negative perception of government” to “honest”, “decent”, “upright”, “corrupt-free tendencies”, etc. A society where bombing of the national economic asset (oil pipelines), vandalisation of PHCN underground/overhead lines, are vehemently resisted and judiciously protected by citizens of the locality. Change Begins with Me encourages us to be united in the fight against Boko Haram and such anti-human organisations. 

Conclusion

At the expense of sounding repetitive, Mr President, there is hunger in the land. You have, on many occasions, alluded to this obvious fact. Civil servants, in many states of the federation, are experiencing excruciating financial pains for non-payment of their salaries. Artisans/traders are generally lamenting lack of patronage/sales. The truth must be told, the citizenry cannot gleefully embrace this laudable campaign in hunger and disillusion. I am glad to know that you have authorised the release of N350 billion for capital project. Your Emergency Recovery Bill to the National Assembly is a commendable effort, (which if sincerely implemented) will go a long way to truly ameliorate the current hardship in the land. It is believed this will open up and lessen the financial stress in the land. Kindly ensure, sir, speedy and full implementation of this authorisation. To my dear compatriots, I like to remind ourselves that God certainly has a reason for giving victory to President Buhari in the last general elections; and for our amiable former President Jonathan to have gleefully accepted defeat. God is never pleased with a nagging people. The book of Numbers Chapter 24: 4-9 so clearly attests to this:

“In those days, the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many sons of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, ‘we have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you, pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent, and set up as a sign; and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it up as a sign and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”

Finally, let us profit from Dr Isa Ali Pantami’s thoughts on this matter as relates to Change Begins with Me campaign, drawing from the Holy Quran thus

 “The Qur’an says: Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of his people, until they change what is in themselves” (Q13:11).

Bernard Balogun, whose photo appears alongside this piece, writes from Wuse District of Abuja. He can be reached via bernardbalogun1@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 29/09/2016 1:41:20 PM

 

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