Many Nigerians, particularly youths, have reacted furiously to former military Head of State General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s (rtd) IBB suggestion that Nigeria’s next president be someone in his 60s, claiming that age does not determine one’s ability to lead.
In an interview with Arise TV yesterday morning, former military leader IBB, often known as IBB, cited bad leadership as the root of the country’s socio-economic difficulties.
He went on to build a picture of who should follow President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, claiming that the future president of Nigeria should be in his 60s and able to communicate with Nigerians.
His words: “If you get a good leadership that links with the people and tries to talk with the people; not talking on top of the people, then we would be okay.
“I have started visualising a good Nigerian leader. That is, a person who travels across the country and has a friend virtually everywhere he travels to, and he knows at least one person that he can communicate with.
“That is a person, who is very versed in economics and is also a good politician, who should be able to talk to Nigerians and so on.
“I have seen one or two or three of such persons already in his sixties. I believe so if we can get him.
“I do believe in the future of Nigeria, but Nigerians don’t believe in the future of their country; they created and they destroyed.”
Reacting to his submission, Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the country needs a younger president who understands the reality of the majority of the population.
“I do not agree with IBB because age does not determine the ability of anyone to be a good leader. As a country with a huge youth population, Nigeria needs a younger president who understands the reality of the majority of the population and is willing to creatively work with diverse and innovative ideas to address our current challenges.
“The focus for the next elections for a lot of young Nigerians is a presidential candidate that has the capacity, requisite competency and character to lead Nigeria.
“Nigerians need a leader who is ready to listen to the people, a leader who understands the diversity of Nigeria and is capable of managing diversity. We do not want a regional leader, but a national leader who has travelled across the 36 states in Nigeria and is ready to work with a team of capable Nigerians from across the country. This is why we need a younger leader without the burden of past prejudices and primordial sentiments in 2023,” she said.
On his part, Achike Chude, a civil society activist, encouraged Nigerians, particularly the youth, not to be fooled by the elder generation’s theatrics, claiming that their goal was to keep the country tethered to their aprons of selfish political and economic interests.
Wondering why Babangida, who has seen it all in and outside of government as a former Head of State suggested the age frame of who should lead Nigeria next at this stage, Chude said, “what IBB is indirectly telling us to continue with in 2023 is the ‘same of the same’ that have failed woefully to change or add value to our country after this government.”
He added: “He cannot tie us to the past, not even to his own tenure past. The people he allegedly mentioned were part of our problems. What he is trying to tell Nigerians is that they don’t want anyone that will threaten their interests.”
“It is vital to realize that age will be a benefit in the first instance,” Chude said of the type of leader Nigerians desire in 2023. We require a leader who is both well-educated and well-versed in international relations. We need a nationalist and cosmopolitan who will appoint people without regard for ethnicity. A different kind of leader than the one we now have or the likes who are in charge of the world today. Nigeria cannot afford to elect a leader who will continue to squander our money on medical treatment abroad.”
Comrade Deji Adeyanju, the convener of the Concerned Nigerians Group, also indicated that he believes 100 percent that Nigeria’s next president should not be an elderly man in poor health.
This is why I have been vehemently kicking against the aspirations of Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu; these are old, tired politicians. They should go and rest because even developed countries need a very strong healthy president and this is why I believe the next president of Nigeria should be a young person, at maximum, somebody in his 60s, which is why I agree with IBB in his assertion,” he said.