After the launch of the speech, a columnist on THISDAY newspaper, Adeola Akinremi, said the speech violated plagiarism laws and pointed out that the President lifted Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own.
He wrote: “Yes, a prime part of Buhari’s speech to the nation last Thursday to launch a campaign encouraging new culture of transparency, attitudinal change and hard work among Nigerians was plagiarised from America’s President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech.
“Buhari’s speech during the launch of the “change begins with me”, a new national orientation campaign, contained largely the same sentiment and arrangement of words that President Obama used in his 2008 victory speech after he was elected the first American black president.
“The president lifted a whole paragraph from Obama’s speech and passed it off as his own when he said: “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.”
“President Obama used the precise words at a rally in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, United States, after winning the race for the White House in November 2008.
“Eight years ago, Obama said: “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”.
‘Presidency Regrets Unfortunate Incident’
Responding to the observation in a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the President, Garba Shehu, said it was observed that the similarities between a paragraph in President Obama’s 2008 Victory Speech and what President Buhari read in paragraph nine of the sixteen-paragraph address while inaugurating the Campaign on Thursday, September 8, were too close to be passed as coincidence.
Mr Shehu said that already, a Deputy Director in the Presidency had accepted responsibility for the insertion of the contentious paragraph.
The Presidency also said it “regrets this unfortunate incident and will ensure that this does not happen again”.
Mr Shehu added that the President, however, urged Nigerians to look beyond this incident and focus on the message of change which the country needed in order to restore the nation’s cherished value systems.