Nigeria slams “racist” Economist magazine report on “Change begins with me” campaign

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

The Nigerian government has slammed United Kingdom-based magazine, The Economist, over its report on the government’s anti-indiscipline campaign: Change Begins With Me.

President Muhammadu Buhari launched the campaign on September 8, calling on citizens to imbibe new values and change attitudinally before demanding the “change” which he had promised.

But in a report titled: ”Nigeria’s war against indiscipline, Behave or be whipped” – on September 24, The Economist blistered the new campaign.

Locally, the campaign had met with criticisms that – the idea was not original; Mr. Buhari plagiarized parts of his speech during the launch; and that the President was trying to shift burden of “change” promise.

Days after the magazine’s critical report, Nigerian government through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, reacted on Wednesday. Mr. Mohammed described The Economist’s as “racist” and one characterized by “embellishment”.

“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,” said Mr. Mohammed.

“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,” he added.

Stating further, he said it was untrue that the government would enlist volunteers to enforce the campaign. Rather than force, he said, Mr. Buhari made it clear “moral suasion, the very antithesis of force, will be employed to achieve attitudinal change among Nigerians.”

“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,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed expressed worry that the paper did not 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.”

Reacting to one of the major criticisms the campaign has faced which was echoed in The Economist’s report, the Minister said the campaign was not designed to shift responsibility of “change” to Nigerians “as many have erroneously said.”

He 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 trickle down to the Vice President, Ministers, other top government officials and to all citizens. What is the campaign asking Nigerians to do? Be the change they want to see in the society.”

He continued, “In other words, if we all want an orderly 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 etc. There is nothing extraordinary or over-burdening in all these.”


DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD:Discover!!New Solution Helps Men Get Bigger Penis size!!To 7inch without Side Effect and Last 25minutes in bed During Sex Click Here To Read...


TEXT AD:WARNING TO MEN: These 3 Foods are Killing Your Erection. Click Here to Know Them...


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • Capt

    In Nigeria, we are always in defense even when what is said to us is obvious

    • Change indicator

      What is the obvious ?

      • abodes_124

        That Change begins at the top not at the bottom unless you are otherwise inclined.

        • SB

          The campaign is designed to start from the top to the ordinary citizenry

          • abodes_124

            And so it should. And so it should. The leader changes and we follow his example. The change has to begin with HIM and not ME. His media men need sacking for fluffing this particular line.

      • Capt

        You are posed to defend already Lol

    • Neeyee

      I tire oooo, classic case of not telling oneself the truth I share those thought too,the information minister is just distracting Nigerians from the main issues, calling The economist magazine racist is just a cheap way of evading the real issues, a very unconvincing attempt at defending the inglorious performance of the government of the day

  • otunga

    The average Nigerian is no better than an animal…

    • Abdul

      you are the only animal in Nigeria.

  • SB

    The campaign is designed to start from the presidency, the ministers and trickle down to the citizens. Great move by the Honourable minister of Information and Culture

  • Uzoma

    Sincerely, if the use of the word ‘tame’ is an example of what the Buhari government holds against the magazine, I’d say they are just chasing after shadows. There is nothing pejorative, not to talk of racist, about the use of the word. While dictionaries may never tell the whole story of a word’s meaning and usage, I reproduce below part of the entry for ‘tame’ in a popular dictionary:
    Verb: tame
    1. Correct by punishment or discipline
    2. Make less strong or intense; soften
    3. Adapt (a wild plant or unclaimed land) to the environment
    4. Overcome the wildness of; make docile and tractable
    5. Make fit for cultivation, domestic life, and service to humans
    (WordWeb electronic dictionary)

    It is significant–insofar as the main consideration in the matter is frequency in a corpus–that the sense “Correct by punishment or discipline” is listed first and “Make fit for cultivation, domestic life, and service to humans” is listed last. When the same Economist magazine wrote a powerful editorial asking Nigerians to send Jonathan packing and usher in Buhari, its motives were not considered racist by oga Lai Mohammed but because today they are suggesting that change must start with the leadership, they have suddenly become racist. The truth of the matter is that this government has become so intolerant of criticism and, in particular, has lost its sense of humour. And that’s really sad.

    • TRUTH MARSHALL

      The economist should know better why use the word “tame”. Lai Mohammed is right on this one.

    • Maria

      Economist would never use such word in any guise in the context of western world…. Nigerians are perceived as animals by the west… I support Lai on this response. Let’s put partisanship apart.

      • emmanuel

        Distractions from Liar. If you force a people to do what you do not want to do, is that not taming? The Economist was not racist when they celebrated Buhari at inauguration.
        All liars go to hell

        • Maria

          Please, post reference of their celebration or shut up …

      • Uzoma

        Why not google _tame “The Economist” _ and then we can continue the discussion. We don’t need to have thin skin. There is nothing deprecating in the use of that word on Nigerians–even as most of us, including our president, consider Nigerians to be wild.

      • vagabonds in power

        The Economist Magazine Calls Jonathan ‘An Ineffectual Buffoon,’
        The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

        BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORKJAN 28, 2016

        The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

        Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan

        The publication of this article comes during Mr. Jonathan’s global tour. Earlier this week he spoke in Geneva, Switzerland to members of the press club. Last week Mr. Jonathan visited the United States where he met with supporters and attend the Presidential Precinct which was held in Virginia.

        According to The Economist, the Buhari “government has cracked down on corruption, which had flourished under the previous president, Goodluck Jonathan, an ineffectual buffoon who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity.”

    • Karl Imom

      So, your argument is NOT about the appropriate use of language, rather its about APC vs PDP? Shame on you. Nor matter how you twist or zigzag it, One does not need to hold a PhD in English Language to understand that, The Economist clearly considers Nigerians to be “wild”, and therefore, need to be tamed. The same way, they call African “ethnic groups” “tribes” but their own ethnic groups are not called tribes. People like you will similarly see no racist connotation in the use of the word ‘tribe’ in describing African ethic groups.

      • Uzoma

        Listen, sir, if you have an argument, present it and we can see how it holds up to scrutiny. Merely shouting “Shame on you” does not advance the discussion one bit. As for the accusation of turning this to APC-vs.-PDP argument, I think there is an name for such arguments but I’ll let you figure that out.

  • TRUTH MARSHALL

    Change begins with us all. Kudos to the government for initaiting this campaign

  • henry

    Good job dear minister I actually preferred your write up to seeing you talk one on one. “Change begins with me is error proof let the local and international chief mourners continue to wail.

  • emmanuel

    Change begin with me is not original, as confirmed by the SSA to the President on Media. Plagiarising as accepted by Garba Shehu is crooked and cannot be said to be a change from status-quo.
    Liar Mohammed was also said to have stolen someone else intellectual property used for the project.
    Where then will the change begin?

  • Burning Spear

    When the economist was used by the Apes in APC to pull down the good work of Jonathan–the Arab controlled magazine was praised to the high heavens by the Fulanis and Yorubas—–Now that they have gone after the Fulanis the Yoruba traitors are crying foul————————–whatever thing that goes up must come down one day–Bingo Buhari is a curse to Nigeria—-

  • gboyegaa

    Everywhere in the developed countries, citizens are forced one way or the other to obey exactly those same simple rules that “CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME” is bringing to Nigerians.
    Ask Germans, Britons or Americans what happens to you when you go over stipulated speed limits or when you park where you are not supposed to part, when you ask for bribe or when you destroy public property and you are caught? You will pay heavy fines and the police and whatever law efforcement agents in charge will make sure that the fines get paid.
    That is why our government should enforce those laws that boarders around changing the mind set of Nigerians as to the importance of being a disciplined individual. We have identified that our major problem is indiscipline. Getting that right will take us a long way as a nation. Otherwise, thousands will be building and millions will be destroying as we have done for over 50 years and we have not seen any significant change. Believe it or not, discipline of the citizens will turn the trend around as it will directly have possitive effects on all aspects of our actions and will in turn improve our lives and standard of living. We will learn to know that you can actually be a rich person without being a millioniar if you are disciplined enough to keep your spending below your income and the government too has done its own part by provding a lot of the things we have to pay for now either free or subsidised.
    Free quality primary and secondary school education and subsidised qaulity politechnic and university studies. Those that have money to waste can send their kids to private schools and it will not matter as long as public schools meet set standards. Most of the Nigerians ruling us now attended free public schools and subsidised higher education before all were killed by those that are greedy. Nigeria was making less income when the public schools were free and very good than when all became a total mess.
    The Economist should critisize constructively and not be encouraging the hidden agender of the few rogue Nigerians that the rot in the country at the moment benefit and do not want a change.

    • where d APES in APC

      The Economist Magazine Calls Jonathan ‘An Ineffectual Buffoon,’ And That Buhari Is Killing Industry

      The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

      BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORKJAN 28, 2016

      The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

      Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan

      The publication of this article comes during Mr. Jonathan’s global tour. Earlier this week he spoke in Geneva, Switzerland to members of the press club. Last week Mr. Jonathan visited the United States where he met with supporters and attend the Presidential Precinct which was held in Virginia.

      According to The Economist, the Buhari “government has cracked down on corruption, which had flourished under the previous president, Goodluck Jonathan, an ineffectual buffoon who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity.”—–

  • where liar Mohamed

    The Economist Magazine Calls Jonathan ‘An Ineffectual Buffoon,’ And That Buhari Is Killing Industry

    The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

    BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORKJAN 28, 2016

    The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

    Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan

    The publication of this article comes during Mr. Jonathan’s global tour. Earlier this week he spoke in Geneva, Switzerland to members of the press club. Last week Mr. Jonathan visited the United States where he met with supporters and attend the Presidential Precinct which was held in Virginia.

    According to The Economist, the Buhari “government has cracked down on corruption, which had flourished under the previous president, Goodluck Jonathan, an ineffectual buffoon who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity.”

  • Short & Sharp

    LAI MOHAMMED IS TOO LOCAL TO SPEAK FOR A LOCAL GOVERNMENT.

    HIS PRESS STATEMENTS ARE GHOST WRITTEN AND LACK LOGIC OR SENSE.

    • Gramatica2000

      Lai Mohammed needs an English teacher

      Alhaji Lai Muhammed
      has huge literacy problems. English language is not his strong suit,
      despite picking words one by one but stumbling over each one to avoid
      grammatical errors for which he is prone. The verb TAME when used in human
      context means bringing a dangerous conduct under control. Corruption of course
      is dangerous conduct. Were Lai Muhammed a thinking person he’d seen the
      grammatically correct sense of the word. The Economist is 100% correct.

      Lai Muhammed has never understood
      English language but lacks the modesty of spirit to speak in Yoruba in which he
      perhaps can better communicate. It is very supercilious of a rustic fellow like Lai
      Muhammed to challenge English men in Britain to a debate on the meaning of
      English words. For that poor judgment Lai Muhammed has no sense because
      Yoruba teaches a sensible person never to claim to know a neighbor’s mother
      better than her son.

      • Robert Obayuwana

        Oga O, it is like you have a score to settle with the Alhaji calling him a rustic fellow. You said TAME when used in human context means bringing a DANGEROUS CONDUCT UNDER CONTROL and hear the Alhaji “The verb ”tame” suggests that Nigerians are some kind of wild animals that must be domesticated,” Me anosabi grammar but I fit speak Bini language – Oya

    • NaijaCaesar

      You won’t see logic and sense if it slapped you across the face

  • Neeyee

    The Nigerian government is playing a game of words with this change rhetoric, if it begins with every Nigerian starting Mr president then why is the approved budget still unreflective of a govt committed to changing things? why is the cost of running government still so ridiculously high? If really it begins with each person then the APC Led Executive arm of government, and legislators should set an example by reducing their remunerations (salaries, allowances and all)by 3/4 to allow enough funds for addressing pressing nation wide challenges…. This existing situation whereby our executive officers and legislators have earnings ranking within top 1 to 5 in the world without a corresponding performance reports makes mockery of everything this government preaches, it’s a shame that the opportunity to address our excesses at the National level (Jibrins revelations) has been allowed to slip by an unwarranted suspension of the whistle blower, and lipservicing by our leaders… It’s a pity cos God can’t help Nigeria if we have refused to help ourselves.. Buhari may have a will to bring positive change but his actions at addressing the foundational problem of having too large an overhead cost associated with running government is questionable

    • NaijaCaesar

      Plenty story…next!!

      • Neeyee

        You next, let’s hear from you, oga self appointed moderator

  • NaijaCaesar

    The Economist has been taken to school today!

  • kunskunsnoble

    DOES THE EXPENDITURE FOR ‘CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMPAIGN’ HAVE LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL?

    IF NO FUND WAS APPROPRIATED FOR IT, LAI MOHAMMED HAS NO RIGHT TO TAKE ONE KOBO FOR IT.

    • NaijaCaesar

      Is it on disqus that you should do your research?

  • NaijaCaesar

    Change Begins With Me is a legitimate campaign that was funded legitimately…

  • NoSpinEd

    Can any honest observer deny the fact that we are not disciplined? Must we hide behind the charge of “racism” every time we are told the truth about ourselves? Is it not true that Buhari as a military dictator used “koboko” diplomacy to successfully force some semblance of order in our society. Having said that, It should have been obvious to the Economist that that option is no longer available to Buhari in a fledging democracy. That is why the ominous “War Against Indiscipline” slogan was replaced with a more morally persuasive “Change begins With Me”. Good luck Mr President.

  • Lanre

    These idiots. Taking on The Economist magazine. I read the article and agree with the content. Buhari believes Nigerians are animals that need to be tamed. Fela already said it in 1984 so what is the hullabaloo about? Again, this government is not any better than the military governments of Babangida and Abacha. Looking for imaginary enemies everywhere whereas they are the clueless ones!

  • Riltin

    But Buhari has been telling the world that Nigerians are unruly and criminal lots that need to be “tamed”. So, why the outbust from the dishonorable minister?

    • Burning Spear

      When the economist was used by the Apes in APC to pull down the good works of Jonathan–the Arab controlled magazine–the Economist was praised to the high heavens by the Fulanis and Yorubas—–Now that they have gone after the Fulanis, the Yoruba traitors are crying foul————————–whatever thing that goes up must come down one day–Bingo Buhari is a curse to Nigeria period———————Aware the economist was one magazine the Apes in APC wrote Editorials for daily and quoted the articles they wrote to abuse Jonathan extensively in their campaign runs—————until the CIA ousted Jonathan from power for the Fulanis and Yorubas now at logger head with each other——————-

  • vagabonds in power

    The Economist Magazine Calls Jonathan ‘An Ineffectual Buffoon,’ And That Buhari Is Killing Industry

    The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

    BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORKJAN 28, 2016

    The enormously influential weekly magazine, The Economist, headquartered in the United Kingdom, described the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as an “ineffectual buffoon” during this week’s print article titled Crude Tactics.

    Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan

    The publication of this article comes during Mr. Jonathan’s global tour. Earlier this week he spoke in Geneva, Switzerland to members of the press club. Last week Mr. Jonathan visited the United States where he met with supporters and attend the Presidential Precinct which was held in Virginia.

    According to The Economist, the Buhari “government has cracked down on corruption, which had flourished under the previous president, Goodluck Jonathan, an ineffectual buffoon who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity.”

    • Reginald Dandeson

      The magazine’s description of Jonathan is quite apt, if I may express my feelings.

  • Burning Spear

    If the idea behind the introduction of Change Begins with me which gulped more than 3.2b was not designed to TAME NIGERIANS into submitting to the whims and caprices of the childish propaganda network of Bingo Buhari–by flogging them to order then what was it meant for–to put Garri our staple food on the table of the poor?

    • Rommel

      The N3.2 billion was spent on what if I may ask you? do you think we are still in the Jonathan era or you are yet to recover from the hangover of that ill fated administration?

      • Braun

        So people are still gullible in this Nigeria? N3.4bn actually was spent for the launch. He’s right.

        • Rommel

          And it was you that approved the money I presume?

    • excel

      When will you use your brain? this is not the era of pdpig/jonathanothan you this fo**l.

  • Realitytalk

    Those foreign newspapers just write rubbish and what they hear nit fact most times, so we shouldnt take them more serious since it is the economist. i wonder who is even pomoting them in nigeria to bring division around here. theier message is a bad one

  • Rommel

    The Jonathanians have found nothing wrong in the choice of words by the economist for which the FG is crossed with,I am amazed at the inanity of this group

    • Reginald Dandeson

      Poor input!!! Am just wondering if and when objectively criticizing a government policy or program has become a criterion for a person to be called a “Jonathanian.” it’s time for Nigerians to grow up and be matured in their outlook on issues.

      • Rommel

        Objectively you said? the people whose criticism lack objectivity are rather called Jonathanians

        • Reginald Dandeson

          Oh! I see!! But it happens that I notice a freewheeling usage of the pronoun. That makes me wonder. Thanks.

  • John Okolie

    Funny, but Mr. Integrity always favors foreign newspapers and magazines, now they are beginning to notice the difference between Esau and Jacob.

  • EOkeh

    I saw the hand of Essau in this article written by the Economist magazine. The domestic Rats are always the ones inviting the wild #Rats to the house.

  • excel

    Good one sir, We all know where the evil article coming from. No matter what they do to saboteur the economy of the this country or to frustrate the effort of this government to better Nigeria, they will fail in thousand times. Kudos to the HMIC you have spoken well.

  • Reuben

    Opinion defers, style of critism can be questionable. You can’t satisfy everybody no matter how you try. Deep thought analysis over ideology, policies and body language of a Government from an observer gives birth to different calculations. Give the sleeping Dog overdose so it never wakes up again. It’s a bad one from the UK based newspaper but I think the idea is more explanatory now and all it needs is enough oxygen to keep alive the sensitisation.

  • Ken O

    Very funny contributions by forumers. The same paper that labelled the last president an ‘ineffectual buffon’? APC went to town celebrating the economist for their supposed apt description of the president of Nigeria. What goes around comes around, they say. The economist hasn’t even called Buhari names and APC is kicking. What will happen when they come up with a more derogatory name than was used for Mr Jonathan? Pull no punches, the Economist, after all, we gave you the “all clear” the last time.