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Friday, 16 September 2016

Buhari accused of plagiarising ‘Change begins with me’ speech

President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of plagiarising  a part of the ‘Change begins with me’ campaign speech he delivered last week.

The Cable reports that Adeola Akinremi, a columnist with ThisDay, was first to make the allegation, saying Buhari’s speech bore marked resemblance with the one delivered by Barack Obama in his November 2008 presidential election victory speech at a rally in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.

“President Muhammadu Buhari made a terrible mistake last Thursday. He plagiarized President Barack Obama’s speech to launch ‘change begins with me,'” he wrote in his column.

“So you didn’t notice that our president lifted from Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own?

“The argument will rage, but the moral problem of plagiarism on a day Mr. President launched a campaign to demand honesty and integrity from the people is what we should concern ourselves with.

“I’m not a wailing wailer and I don’t like the downfall of any man but I also don’t like to be deceived. The very last thing you should do when you’re launching a campaign like this is to be dishonest with the people.

“As Buhari talked down on Nigerians during the launch of the campaign spearheaded by no other person, other than the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, known for his trash-talk, particularly for the opposition, I started following the speech line-by-line.

“I was alarmed to make the discovery. It was a scandal that escaped the attention of our newspapers. It is one of two things: either people don’t pay particular attention to Buhari’s words or we are a nation of anything goes.”

The paragraph alleged to have been lifted by Buhari read: “We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long.

“Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice, Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another, What the current problem has taught us is that we cannot have a thriving army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffers.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s words in 2008 were: “In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.”

Attempting to explain how Obama’s speech may have been plagiarised, Aderemi said: “When you use another person’s work without acknowledgement, you have plagiarized. You simply pretend as if it is your own. It is unethical. It makes a mess of the campaign from the start. That is what Buhari has done, nobody will believe in the ‘change begins with me’ campaign, because it was built on lies.

“Now, this is what I think must have happened, an incompetent speech writer handed the speech to Buhari with no fact checking method by the president’s men that should have saved the president from this embarrassment.

“I know this that with the vast opportunity provided by the internet, it’s so tempting to plagiarize, but the same internet provides opportunity to discover plagiarists.

“It’s particularly troubling that the president has no inspiring words of his own other than to steal from someone. And this, it is pathetic that this “change” conversation is taking new dimension from what we expected.”

Contacted by TheCable, Garba Shehu,  senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, declined to discuss the matter over the phone, saying he would rather send an email.

The email is still being expected.

But a professor of English Language at the University of Abuja, who did not want to be named, described plagiarism as an offence not to be tolerated any where in the world regardless of the perpetrator.

“Plagiarism is an offence no matter who commits it; it is a fact,” he said. “Plagiarism is not tolerated by anywhere and for whatever reason. Its an offence.”

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