The federal government’s re-orientation campaign called ‘Change begins with me’ will succeed based on the commitment of Nigeria’s leadership.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed told Voice of Nigeria in an interview programme, ’’In the News’’, that leading by example as exemplified by President Muhammadu Buhari , ministers and other appointees, showed the campaign would succeed.
He said every Nigerian had a role to play to help fast track the realization of the nation’s development objectives.
‘’We tagged it ‘Change begins with me’ because we believed that in this period of rebirth and national consciousness, each and every one of us must change the way we do things.’’
Lai Mohammed said Nigeria’s problem was not only that of leadership but followership, as every member needed to play his role for the desired results.
He said “if only this attitudinal and behavioral change had taken place before now, Nigeria would not be where it is today in the country. The money meant for the execution of the boko haram war was diverted in this country.
This won’t have happened if people were honest, patriotic, nationalistic and this campaign is about patriotism, nationalism and taking ownership of the country.’’
Lai said “most ministers today are making personal sacrifices to ensure that this government succeeds. Ministers today obey traffic regulations, queue up at airports. So the ministers today are just ordinary people just like those they govern.”
He added that ‘’anybody that says there is no change, then he has not looked hard enough as there is change from impunity to accountability and that is very important… not only the introduction of TSA but the introduction of efficiency units in every ministry today.’’
The Information and Culture Minister said the corruption was beyond the stealing of government funds but also about the issues of vandalization, fake drug sales as well as sabotage in the oil and electricity sectors.
“Do you know how many innocent Nigerians have died because they went to patent medicine stores and they were sold fake medicine drugs? Our campaign will also affect such people or the fellow that goes to vandalized pipelines. This is the kind of change we are talking about.’’
He added that ‘’ as we speak today, Nigeria is losing one million barrels of crude a day due to vandalization and one thousand megawatts of electricity, also due to vandalization in these sectors.’’
On the insurgency, Lai said the strategy adopted by the Buhari administration, military and international support had led to the success in decimating the insurgents and restoring local governments that were once before under boko haram control.
“Because of the success of the Nigerian government, you can see that there is now even factionalization within the boko haram. Nigerian military has achieved a rare feat in fighting insurgency.’’
He cited the experience of the Colombian government with the FARC rebels and how a compromise was achieved after over 50 years, saying it was rare, what Nigerian military had achieved in the fight against boko haram.
Lai Mohammed said that “as we speak today, the number of Internally Displaced Persons camps are reducing and many are voluntarily returning home and with the combined efforts of the Borno state government and donor agencies, Nigeria is addressing the humanitarian crisis.”
The Minister said Nigeria would soon achieve the diversification of the economy using agriculture and solid minerals as the main focus and assured Nigerians and foreign investors that by 2018, the nation would be self sufficient in wheat, rice and dairy products.
Lai also assured Nigerins that there were additional efforts to use tourism and culture as alternative sources of revenue that could support government’s development initiatives.
He said the tourism sector would be used to create more jobs and improve the economy with the Durbars, Argungu Festival in Kebbi state and a lot of tourists sites, along with plans to adopt a visa-on-arrival policy.