Change begins with me controversy: We’ll meet in court, FG tells Afe Babalola

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According to reports, the Federal Government yesterday broke its silence on controversy trailing ownership of the idea behind the Change begins with me initiative saying it will meet Chief Afe Babalola and his client in the law court.

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who disclosed this at the presentation of the campaign, which was recently launched by President Mohammed Buhari to the private sector in Lagos, said the initiative is aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way things are done in the country.

“It is amazing how Nigerians want to reap from where they had not sowed. It is quite annoying the kind of allegation going on. Sometimes, because one is a public official, he would be handicapped.

“I was nominated in October. And, the moment I was nominated, I called my team and I told them that the most important thing was to change the attitude of Nigerians. And, I am happy that the agencies are here today. We started working on the initiative. On October 14, 2015, when I was confirmed as minister, I had completed work on the initiative.

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“I made available to the media in controvertible evidence that by October 14, 2015, I had completed work on the initiative. On October 31, 2015 I had completed the radio jingles and television commercial. And ,Mr. Akin Fadeyi, even by his own admonition came to me on December 30, 2015.

“How can one accuse me of stealing an idea which was finished by October when he came to me in December? Himself, Afe Babalola and I will meet in court.”

The minister appealed to the private sector to inculcate the principles in its Change Begin initiative to enhance productivity of the sector and address decay in national system.

Mohammed, who took a swipe at some critics wonderedwhy the federal government is launching the campaign at a time Nigerians are hungry and need food said what they don’t realise is that part of the reasons the country have found itself in this sorry pass is due to the attitude of its people.

In a September 29 letter, Babalola wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari and insisted that his client, Akin Fadeyi is the creator of the anti-corruption media campaign project ‘Not in My Country’ and not Mohammed. Babalola stated in the letter that his client would enable the president to come to appreciate his client’s status as “a partner in the pious goals of this administration and the need to thoroughly investigate the issues surrounding the media report”. He maintained that his client chose to remain silent for three crucial reasons. “First, our client is a private business man concerned with advancing the society by innovative thinking and development projects. Second, the anti-corruption campaign project is a product of our client’s lifelong vision to do something towards ridding our society of the cankerworm of decadence. Third, our client will not sacrifice these goals on the altar of claiming his personal individual rights, especially not in a way capable of being bastardised or confused with propaganda, among other distractions…”

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That is not to say our client will not defend his work and hard-earned intellectual property rights in a court of competent jurisdiction at the appropriate time.

He said, “Our fetish for consumption of imported goods has helped to deplete our foreign reserves, part of the reasons our local currency is now very weak, with dire consequences. Our preference for foreign goods against the ones we produce has been detrimental to our manufacturing companies, leading to loss of jobs. Of course without jobs, our ability to feed or meet our daily obligations is affected.

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“What about our attitude to work, the thousands of man-hours that we waste for one reason or another? Want about the mindless corruption that contributed to where we are today? Indeed, there is no better time than now to launch this campaign.

“This is because if miraculously the price of oil shoots up to 100 dollars per barrel and the economy improves today, without an attitudinal change that encompasses honesty, diligence and shunning of imported goods, we will be back to the same situation in which we have found ourselves today.”

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