Economist report on “Change begins with me” campaign racist – FG

Economist report on “Change begins with me” campaign racist – FG
September 29 05:54 2016

The Federal Govermment has reacted angrily to a report by the Economist Magazine which criticized the “Change begins with me” campaign launched by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

While launching the campaign, President Buhari had urged Nigerians to change their ways and embrace values of patriotism, orderliness and selflessness rather than expecting government to single-handedly implement the change it promised.

In its report titled ”Nigeria’s war against indiscipline, Behave or be whipped” published on September 24, The Economist criticized the campaign and expressed doubt over the sincerity of the Nigerian govermment.

Reacting to the report in a press statement on Wednesday,  Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed,  described it as “racist” and full of “embellishment”.

“Contrary to the newspaper’s self-professed belief in ”plain language”, the article in question, from the headline to the body, is a master-piece of embellishment or dressed-up language.

“It is loaded with innuendos and decidedly pejorative at best, and downright racist at worst.

“The Economist wrote that President Buhari wants to ”tame” Nigerians with the ”Change Begins With Me” Campaign. For those who are the owners of the English language, the use of that word is unpardonable, “The verb ”tame” suggests that Nigerians are some kind of wild animals that must be domesticated, and the usage reveals the mindset of the authors of the article: a deliberate put-down of a whole people under the guise of criticising a government policy,” he said.

The minister also denied plans to enlist volunteers to enforce the campaign, saying rather than force, President Buhari made it clear that “moral suasion, the very antithesis of force, will be employed to achieve attitudinal change among Nigerians.”

“In its rush to discredit the ”Change Begins With Me” Campaign, The Economist, a widely respected newspaper, fell below its own standards by choosing to be economical with the truth. Enforcement is not part of the strategies to be employed under the Campaign, and nowhere has it been said that the ”moral police” will be unleashed, as reported by the newspaper,” he said.

The minister expressed disappointment with the fact that the Magazine did not balance its story by speaking with any govermment official but chose to quote a known critic of the administration.

The Minister said the campaign was not designed to shift responsibility of “change” to Nigerians “as many have erroneously said.”

“It is an all-inclusive campaign that was designed to start with the leadership. That much was explained by the President when he said the government would ”drive the campaign” and that it must be strongly supported by all concerned individually.

”Change Begins With Me” was designed to start from the President, then trickle down to the Vice President, Ministers, other top government officials and to all citizens. What is the campaign asking Nigerians to do? Be the change they want to see in the society.”

He continued, “In other words, if we all want an orderly society, for example, the motorists among us must obey traffic rules, our aggrieved youth must stop destroying public property, patent medicine sellers must stop selling fake drugs, commercial vehicle drivers must stop taking alcoholic beverages before driving etc. There is nothing extraordinary or over-burdening in all these,” the minister said.