“Change Begins with Me” article: FG knocks Economist, says magazine is racist
The Federal Government took a swipe at “The Economist” newspaper, accusing the United Kingdom media giant of racism, prejudice and denigration of Nigeria’s genuine effort at national re-orientation. This was the broadside from Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a story by The Economist, datelined Lagos and featured in the paper’s print edition of Sept. 24, 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 master-piece of embellishment or dressed-up language.
“It is loaded with innuendos and decidedly pejorative at best and downright racist at worst.’’ The minister faulted the conclusion in the publication that President Muhammadu Buhari wanted 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.
“It is a deliberate put-down of a whole people under the guise of criticising a government policy.”
Mohammed said the author was wrong in insinuating that some 150,000 volunteers were being trained as enforcers of the ”Change Begins With Me” Campaign. He said the president, while launching the campaign, made it clear that “moral suasion, the very antithesis of force, will be employed to achieve attitudinal change among Nigerians’’.
According to him, the President never said that ”moral police would be unleashed’’as reported by the newspaper.
“In writing the story, the paper did not even deem it necessary to speak with any official of the government, thus breaching one of the codes of journalism, which is fairness,’’ the statement said.
The campaign was launched to ‘”help restore our value system and rekindle our nationalistic fervour’’, the minister said.
“The campaign is asking Nigerians to be the change they want to see in the 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. There is nothing extraordinary or over-burdening in all these,’’ he said.