Minister Slams Economist Magazine For Mocking ‘Change Begins With Me’ Campaign


The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has in a statement released yesterday, slammed a UK based magazine – The Economist, for an article it published on September 24, 2016, about the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign introduced in Nigeria.

In the article titled: ‘Nigeria’s war against indiscipline, Behave or be whipped,’ the magazine insinuated that President Muhammadu Buhari attempts to tame Nigerians with the scheme.

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Mr Lai Mohammed however, said the use of the word ‘tame’ by the magazine was unpardonable as it suggests that Nigerians are some kind of wild animals that must be domesticated.

The “Change Begins with Me Campaign” was launched by President Buhari on September 8th.

He also said the usage was a deliberate put-down of a whole people under the guise of criticising a government policy.

“Our attention has been drawn to a story by The Economist, datelined Lagos and featured in the paper’s print edition of Sept. 24th 2016, entitled: ”Nigeria’s war against indiscipline, Behave or be whipped”.

“Contrary to the newspaper’s self-professed belief in ”plain language”, the article in question, from the headline to the body, is a masterpiece 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.”

Stressing  that the ‘Change Begins With Me’ Campaign is a social reorientation campaign, which is aimed at educating and not silencing Nigerians, Mr. Lai also cited  many countries that had  launched similar reorientation campaigns to remodel social value assets.

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“In 1979, Singapore launched the National Courtesy Campaign to encourage Singaporeans to be kind and considerate to one another. In 2011, Mozambique launched a campaign to educate students on how to treat foreign tourists as part of preparations for the country’s hosting of the All-Africa Games that year.

“In 2015, China launched a campaign to ‘name and shame,’ any of its own tourists who behave badly, either at home or abroad. And this year, the Tokyo Good Manners Project was launched to improve manners in the metropolis of the Japanese capital.

“It is therefore uncharitable for The Economist to hide behind the facade of its own prejudice to denigrate Nigeria’s genuine effort at national re-orientation.’’