FG slams The Economist for its article about the ''Change Begins With Me'' campaign

The Economist, a UK based magazine, published an article few days ago in which it criticized the "Change Begins with Me Campaign" launched by President Buhari on September 8th. The article insinuated that President Buhari was planning to use the campaign to re-introduce his War against Indiscipline and in the long run tame Nigerians from freely expressing themselves.

However in a statement released yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed described the article as racist and one characterized by embellishment. He also described the use of the word in the article as unpardonable. Read the full text of the statement below...
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 master-piece of embellishment or dressed-up language. It is loaded with innu
endos 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 mind-set of the authors of the article: a deliberate put down of a whole people under the guise of criticising a government policy.
The paper, in striving to reach a preconceived conclusion, also insinuated that some 150,000 volunteers are being trained as enforcers of the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign. This is not true. In his speech at the launch of the Campaign on Sept. 8th 2016, the President, a globally-acknowledged leader who believes strongly in the rule of law, left no one in doubt that moral suasion, the very antithesis of force, will be employed to achieve attitudinal change among Nigerians. In that speech, the President said: ''I am therefore appealing to all Nigerians to be part of this campaign.'' To the best of our knowledge and, surely the knowledge of those who own the language, the words ''appeal'' and ''enforce'' are not synonymous.
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. 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. It chose instead to quote a ''critic'' of Mr. President in a perfunctory manner.
Again, The Economist made the same mistakes that most critics of the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign have made: Rushing to comment on a campaign they do not understand. The Campaign had barely been launched when the critics brought out their big guns to shoot it down. In the process, many of them ended up shooting themselves in the foot. Had they tarried a while to allow the government to roll out the details of the campaign, they might have shown more circumspection than they did in their criticism.
The Campaign, which the President said ''will help restore our value system and rekindle our nationalistic fervor'', is not designed to shift any responsibility 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 tri

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