Sep 8, 2018

Nigeria needs a young president; but not just any young President |Adedunmade Onibokun

As the 2019 general elections approaches, Nigerians will have another opportunity to elect credible leaders along all strata of government. It is important that these leaders are young, intelligent and vibrant personalities who will steer the ship of our great nation into a future of prosperity, growth and development. 

I propose to all Nigerians, most especially young Nigerians to ensure we vote young politicians who have shown a track-record of excellence and who exemplify the values we hope to see cascade in the administration of our government.

This piece is not an indictment on President Buhari, neither does it aim to criticize his administration. As the President of this country, he has done his best in the past four years to right the many wrongs pervading the nation. However, I feel it is time that His Excellency steps aside for this youthful agenda.

It is also not my intention to suggest in any way that our salvation lies with any political party, for any political observer will note that Nigerian political parties have no clear set out ideologies and are usually made up of the same class of people. For instance, many politicians who were once members of the APC, have decamped to the PDP and vice –versa. In party politics, personal interests hold a more superior position over national interests and within the party, everyone just wants to win, no matter the cost to our polity, our policies or even our people.

Furthermore, though I campaign for a youth agenda and alliance, I do not propose that we elect leaders based solely on their age but also on the merit of their candidacy. Currently, many Nigerians are unhappy with the state of the nation. Our health care systems rather than improve have continued on a steady decline, medical practitioners are fleeing the country in droves, businesses are dying or on life support and there are not enough jobs for the millions of unemployed youths. Insecurity in the North- East and the pockets of violence by herdsmen have taken farmers off the farms. Also, there is no access to capital or cheap loans for boosting the economy and just incase you are wondering the Trader Moni Programme is not the solution for there is little N10,000 can do to help float or scale a business. Especially as the environment has not been made conducive for business to flourish in.

It will take more than a young President to reverse the name we have earned as the poverty capital of the world, neither will the election of one young President fix all that needs to be fixed, however, such a leader will understand adequately the thought process, and needs of the youth. If we remember, the modern Nigeria was shaped by the sheer will of young Nigerians. Sadly, the young leaders of yesteryears are still the leaders of today, many of whom have outlived their youthfulness and usefulness, such leaders should not be given the mandate of crafting a Nigerian future they would not be part of.

However, like I mentioned above, it is not only about electing a youthful leader, it is about electing a young leader who is the best man for the job. For instance, for the position of President, we have quite a number of young leaders who have signified interests in occupying the number 1 office, including Fela Durotoye (46 years), Kingsley Moghalu (55 years), Eunice Atuejide, Donald Duke (56 years), Omoyele Sowore (47 years) and Bukola Saraki (55 years).

Many of the above-mentioned candidates are successful in their own right, having established successful business and had high-flying careers. However, not all of them are fit to be regarded as the best young person for the job. For, if success is all it takes to administer a country, the United States will not currently be regretting their choice of a leader. If I were to make a list of some of the criteria I will like to see in who holds the office of President, they will include –

1.       A good leader

2.       A patriotic citizen

3.       A healthy person

4.       A skilled negotiator

5.       A background in and wide understanding of governance

6.       Excellent budgetary experience

7.       A good understanding of foreign affairs policies

8.       Compassionate, yet strong-willed; and

9.       Understands the importance of government policies in business

The candidate I believe possesses all these characteristics from the above list is Bukola Saraki. He has shown exemplary leadership as the Governor of Kwara State and as Senate President; he is patriotic and physically fit; he showed excellent negotiation skills when his intervention helped put an end to the JOHESU strike; he has a sterling background in governance which started from his role as Special Adviser under President Obasanjo; As Senate President, he has presided over national budgets; he has a good understanding of foreign policy; he is strong willed as evident in his rise to become Senate President and the hard positions he took while in the role and lastly he understands the role and importance of government policies in providing a conducive atmosphere for businesses as evidenced in the creation of NASSBER – National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable.

If you were to elect a young Nigerian President, who will it be?

Adedunmade Onibokun

@adedunmade is a lawyer and writes from Lagos.