Can We Really Trust Buhari to Bring Change?

By Philip Amiola

The tension and anticipation that heralded the March 2015 presidential election will not be forgotten in a hurry. With Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) screaming “change” and Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shouting “transformation” it was clear that each party recognised that Nigerians were tired of the status quo. When “change” eventually carried the day, Nigerians were certain that a new era had begun. What most of us did not realise, however, is that “change” or national transformation comes at a price. And that price will not be paid by the President alone but by every one of us.

So, the question is: Are we ready to pay the price? As depicted by a cartoon that went viral before the elections, everybody wants change but nobody wants to change. Members of the National Assembly want “change” but not at the expense of their personal comfort or even official luxuries which have continually puffed up our recurrent expenditure. State governors want “change” but only to the extent that it serves their interests. For instance, why would a governor cripple the judicial system of a state or prevent local councils from functioning as they should? Why would a governor pay workers 50 percent of January salary in mid-July, yet refuse to acknowledge that there’s a problem?

Apparently, the vast majority of our elected leaders are only interested in fulfilling their personal aspirations and securing a fortune for themselves. That is why we cannot afford to leave the business of government in the hands of politicians alone. We must rise up as engaged citizens to demand – and when necessary enforce – good governance. However, we cannot do this if we don’t learn to take personal responsibility for effecting positive change within our immediate spheres of influence.

This begins with simple disciplines like obeying traffic rules, using the waste bin (instead of littering our streets and roads with empty sachets and cans, for example), staying on the queue, and refusing to bribe or be bribed. Nigeria will not change because we have new senators, representatives, governors or president. Nigeria will change because we have new Nigerians with a new mindset. Every citizen must imbibe a culture of responsibility and accountability. We must all be committed to a disciplined pursuit of the common good. Only then can we set the stage for real change and lay the foundation for national transformation.

You know what? Regardless of his perceived competence, experience and good intentions, President Muhammadu Buhari cannot bring the desired change without the support of dedicated lieutenants and committed citizens. Like Kofi Annan observed, “Whether our challenge is peacemaking, nation-building, democratisation or responding to natural or man-made disaster, we have seen that even the strongest amongst us cannot succeed alone.” It is therefore important that every Nigerian commits to the process of national transformation.

To this end, in addition to modelling good citizenship, our leaders must paint a clear picture of the change that we seek. If we don’t know exactly where we’re going, how do we know the route that will take us there? In addition to having a clear and easily comprehensible vision, we must put systems in place – starting from the educational sector – to ensure that every citizen and resident of this nation understands the vision and aligns with it. I believe that with purposeful leadership and engaged citizenry, Nigeria will change progressively until it becomes the most desirable nation to live in. God bless Nigeria.

Philip Amiola is a teacher, writer and campaigner of empowerment. He blogs at PhilipAmiola.org and tweets from @PhilipAmiola.

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