Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says some Nigerians cannot recite the national anthem.
Mohammed spoke on Thursday in Abuja at the public presentation of the “Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative”, a campaign for value-reorientation and attitudinal change among Nigerians.
The minister, who was represented by Samuel Soughul, a director in the ministry, said as patriotic citizens, Nigerians are expected to love everything associated with the country.
He explained that “change begins with me” is not just a slogan but a “value-orientation campaign”.
“I think we are making progress. I won’t say all, there are few bad eggs in our society that are forming the clog in the wheel of our progress. Let’s start from basics,” he said.
“If you love your country, you must love anything that is associated with your country. You love your country and you love your countrymen, you love the paraphernalia of the state.
“The national anthem, some of us cannot read, cannot recite, cannot write. Is it the currency of the country, Naira, that we abuse? Is it the constitution that we do not obey its provisions? We have a lot to say but the future is still bright.
“In 1976, there was a desire by Prof. Felicia Adewole to come up with a contract for citizens to sign with their country, Nigeria, and she made a draft which was proved right. That is what we have today as a national pledge.
“By following that pledge, we will not have turbulence around our homes, we will not need bullet-proof vehicles, we will be our brother’s keeper.
“Now, President Muhammadu Buhari, having viewed this with concerns launched a value-reorientation campaign ‘Change begins with me’. This campaign is not a slogan and it should not be associated with party slogan as such. It is a patriotic slogan and campaign – a value-reorientation campaign.
“What it means is that the change we want should start with us instead of pointing accusing fingers.”
Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, was unable to recite the national anthem during his screening at the national assembly in March 2017.
The then 82-year-old retired judge was nominated as a non-career ambassador by the president. He reportedly told the senate that there was no way he would recite the national anthem.
“Why should I do so?” he reportedly said. “You should have sent me a syllabus.”
Thereafter, the senate rejected his nomination because of his old age and his inability to respond to some issues raised.
“Although he was calm at the screening, he looked frail and tired. His responses to issues raised were not answered or devoid of details and mostly satirical,” the senate had said.
However, the president renominated him and he was later confirmed as an ambassador.