FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, May 24, 2018
[email protected]
London, UK
BUHARI, OBJ, YOUTHS AND AGE LIMIT FOR PRESIDENT

hen President Buhari criticised the Nigerian youths in London at the Commonwealth conference fringe meeting on 19th April 2018; if he were so angry with his fellow Nigerians, he was unable to restrain himself, if the criticism was necessary, it ought to have been in the form of lecture, advisory and in measured language. As a matter of respect for Nigeria, Buhari ought to have ventilated his anger at home rather than to have done so abroad at the glaring eyes of the international community. With this, where are the leadership, discipline and responsibility Buhari himself preaches?

It is not just the criticism but the damage Buhari inflicted on Nigeria. What Buhari failed to understand was not just Britain the host country, other foreign countries would use his criticism against Nigerians in general in what they seek from them. The inhumane treatment and unabating racism the western world perpetrate against black people are partly informed by the irresponsible ways many African heads of state conduct themselves and run their countries.

If one can read Buhari's mind, what actually provoked his criticism were; he may have been frustrated by what he perceived as increasing immature behaviour of many members of the National Assembly, what are going on at the Legislature, among many State Governors and the pressure and criticism from former President Obasanjo's third force political party. The bicameral Federal Legislature is made up of members who are generally far younger than Buhari, not least are the leaderships. Within these are;

  • many legislators' infantile behaviour on the floor of the Legislature;

  • enactment of frivolous laws;

  • their incommensurate huge emoluments and self-overpayments;

  • the amendment of Electoral Act which Buhari sees as against the Presidency;

  • unnecessary delay in budget approval and indirect solicitation for bribe;

  • some of the members' desperation for the office of the President;

  • their enactment of law, not too young to rule, which is specifically for their own benefits.

When some of them are in conflict with the law and being tried at the Tribunal or the Court of law, in the absence of nobody to push them out, they do not have the honour or morality to voluntarily resign or stepdown from the membership of the Legislature or the position they hold until the determination of their cases.

But Buhari used the actual youths of the country as pawn for the actual quarter of the members of the National Assembly, some State Governors, etc. he actually meant to criticise. In effect, everyone knows, the actual youths of the country who are generally under the age of 18-year-old, though Buhari may have upgraded them to under 30-year-old, cannot be held responsible for what are today wrong in Nigeria whatever their indiscipline or indolence. They do not make decisions as to how the country is governed.

On 22th May 2018, as I was putting finishing touches on this piece, the news came. Buhari on Obasanjo. I had to revert to this first page of this article to fit in a little analysis. Buhari came out openly to vehemently attack former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar'Adua and Jonathan and their sixteen years People Democratic Party (PDP) Government for failing the country and squandered the unprecedented huge fund the country earned. The National Assembly was not spared in the attack either. This confirmed my assertion as above that Buhari pawned the defenceless youths of the country for the actual quarter he meant to criticise.

Today, Obasanjo cannot exonerate himself from the failure of the past leaderships of the country. He had the best opportunity to restructure the country and put her on a formidable foundation. Obasanjo blew the chance. For example, Obasanjo was the architect of the gross election rigging that enabled the PDP to unlawfully win four general elections which further ruined the country. He dictated, single handily selected and forced the two mediocre and hopeless Presidents, Yar'Adua and Jonathan on the PDP and Nigeria. Who started today sharp decline in our Education in the late1970s?

But today, it is too late for Buhari to separate himself from the collective leadership failure of the country. He should have dragged Obasanjo and Jonathan out in May 2015 to answer for their misdeeds, squandering of the huge fund of the country and the attended endemic corruption that manifested during their Governments. Since 29th May 2015, Buhari concentrated his Government only on and for his far North (North-West and North-East geo-political zones). He neglected the rest of the country. With only one year remaining and an election year, it is too late for him to criticising and blaming anyone let alone atone for his own inactions for the past three years.

If we do not read between the lines in Buhari's criticism of the youths; there are many factors which are responsible for today indiscipline and indolence among some of the youths of the country. Some may be self-inflicted while the others are not the fault of the afflicted youths. The indiscipline depends on the type of home they came; their parents; the environment they live; the failure of successive leaderships of the country and their Governments. These are what Buhari failed to take into consideration in his wholistic condemnation of Nigerian youths. Nevertheless, the youths of the country need to play their part to improve on their increasing indiscipline and indolence. But children are always the victim of the failings of their parents. Therefore, Buhari and the successive leaderships and their Governments who failed the country must take responsibility for what today became of our youths and country.

Today, more of the indiscipline and indolent people Buhari meant are found in the far North, Buhari's backyard. In the far North, children are more neglected, prevented from education and radicalised to invariably take up criminality or terrorism as occupation. The huge federal allocation fund which the far North State Governments receive every month that is meant primarily for education, healthcare, etc. in their States is partly diverted by their Governors and partly distributed in cash to some people of their choice. Many of their people tend to depend on this handout. They would neither bother to go to school nor willing to work. Today the far North is the most insecure and dangerous part of Nigeria. The terrorists and criminals of the far North are now exporting their brand of criminality to the rest of the country.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government was elected in 2015 to remedy the failures and damages the prolonged military Government and sixteen years of the People Democratic Party (PDP) Government inflicted on Nigeria. The simple ways to correct most of these which would not cost money to do were yet ignored by Buhari. Some of the few areas that needed serious attention in the country, not just policing of the past loots, are:

  • political and Government restructuring;

  • re-instatement of the pre-eighty good and high standard of education;

  • decentralisation of the Police Force into several Independent Police Commands;

  • recruitment of more Police and security personnel;

  • to keep Islamic religion out of official laws, finance and affairs of the country;

  • establishment of adequate system of control in every sector of society;

  • to ensure the optimal supply of electricity and landline telephone;

  • restoration of the Naira as a convertible currency at the foreign exchanges.

  • Among the duties of a leader are to motivate and think positively. A leader should not demoralise the led.

These, with the exception of electricity and landline telephone, do not need any money or foreign exchange for any Government to implement overnight. In fact, many other things we need to do in the country do not need money to execute. Notwithstanding, the fund available in the country was and is still sufficient for us to do what we need to do. For example, as the private cattle owners today constitute the worst insecurity in the whole country; does the Presidency or the National Assembly need money to introduce and enact the necessary laws which would prohibit open grazing, movement of cattle in public places, anywhere in the country and for the owners of the cattle to establish their ranches for animal husbandry?

When these are implemented and fully available, the other sectors of society will generally be self-maintaining. That is, you will have good security, political harmony, a conducive atmosphere for investments, job creation and growing economy. Many of the youths in the country will not be idle. The youths will either be at higher education, school, training or at work. There will not be idle mind and idle time which create the vacuum for the manifestation of Buhari's acclaimed indiscipline and indolence.

The actual quarter for Buhari's criticism in their desperation to be President of the country while in fact they do not yet have the maturity in them now engender the debate for the minimum and maximum ages a person can seek the office of the President of the country. We are Nigerians and not any other nationals. Age matters in Nigeria. We respect age in Nigeria. Age determines maturity, experience, adequate track record on which ability and honesty can be assessed and to take effectively on national responsibility.

Today, many of the youths in the country are desperate, in haste and preoccupied with the issue that most people in their forties and below generally become the heads of state in their countries in western world. What we should remember is that these people in general complete their desired tertiary education in their very early twenties. From there they take on politics and related fields on full time basis. When they are in their forties, they have already had at least twenty years' experience in politics and related fields. In our country, Nigeria, the unnecessary Presidential system of government we adopt prevents the youths from the above process of political maturity. Even with time, uninterrupted democracy and in an atmosphere of completely free and fair election, we cannot equate our process with that of the western world let alone follow them.

Therefore, the minimum age anyone can seek the office of the President of Nigeria should be 50-year-old. The peak period in human life begins from the age of 50-year-old. A Presidential aspirant or candidate at the age of 50-year-old would have the maturity, a long and reasonable career period on which his/her leadership qualities and suitability can be assessed. Maturity and experience are better obtained through age. Any person who had never been a criminal, stolen, trained to steal and to be fraudulent before the age of 50-year-old would not begin such from the age of fifty-year-old.

Today, it is no longer only men's world. It is from the period of 50-year-old women are freer and less undistracted to fully participate not only in politics but to be able to take leadership position in society. Within these, the maximum age any person shall not seek the office of the President of the country shall be over 75-year-old unless such a person is seeking re-election for a second term. The period between the age of 50-75-year-old is enough for anyone who want to rule, to rule for two consecutive terms or broken two terms. Whatever is in the current Constitution, any amendment or any changes in progress which reduced or would reduce the minimum age for anyone to seek the office of the President of the country below 50-year-old would be nullified or expunged and re-instated as minimum of 50-year-old during our Government's restructuring in the country in 2019-2023.

People under the age of 50-year-old are generally and unnecessarily more radical, intolerant, extreme and are prone to serious errors of judgement whatever their early experience. Therefore, leadership qualities seen in those below the age of 50-year-old are not enough. With the related leadership qualities, normal maturity for national leadership starts at the age of 50-year-old. Despite few notable achievements, the serious errors of judgement, mistakes and failings by many of those who assumed national leadership elsewhere below 50-year-old are guides that they should not lead the country.

Contrary to some people's claim, there is no detribalised person in Nigeria, especially when such a person is the head of state. The current and past leaderships of the country are a clear example. Even if a head of state is personally a Saint, the people in the place or region he/she originates would always besiege him/her to unduly favour own place or region. Honest and competent people are today proportionately available at every part of the country. Only a constitutional federal rotational leadership can minimise any organised monopoly, disguised or deliberate marginalisation, tribalism and regionalism in the country.

Therefore, it is imperative for us to create and have federal leadership rotational zones in the country delineated on grounds of compatibility. A maximum of four such federal leadership rotational zones in the country would be as follow:

  1. South-South-East (This area comprised the current South-East and South-South zones).
  2. North-Central (This area comprised the current North-Central zone and Abuja).
  3. South-West (This area comprised the current South-West zone.
  4. Far North (This area comprised the current North-West and North-East zones).

Since independence on 1st October 1960 - May 2019; each of these zones had or would have provided leaders for the country for disproportionate number of years as in the following:

Table 1

The North (North-West, North-East and North-Central Zones) has ruled Nigeria for 41.5years with nothing to show for these years. Upon all, the area remains backwards, dragged and continue to drag the South down with it. To ensure there is no further monopoly and abuse of power by any section of the country; in order to fulfil Section 14 (3-4) of the 1999 Constitution; there must be equitable and permanent official leadership rotation in the country starting from 2019 general election. Southern and Northern rotational zones would here alternate each other. As in table 1 above, the South-South-East area least provided leaders for the country in the past 58.5 years of independence. Therefore, in fairness, from 2019 official and permanent federal leadership rotation shall and must start from the South-South-East zone as follows:

Table 2

Looking at where we are coming from and where we are headed, we do not need to tell the world again that the North is not ready to rule the country at these times. The far North in particular is not interested in restructuring, etc. which will preserve the future of Nigeria free from most of the current problems. The President that would salvage the country at these times and establish the desired restructuring and formidable foundation which nobody or section of the country will again be able to subvert or misuse shall come from the South South-East zone only under APC Federal Government. We do not need to tell anybody that the PDP which is the main opposition political party is not anymore electable in Nigeria let alone available to form a Government that cannot even restructure the country to the desired format.

Luckily for APC, the party has no automatic ticket for its incumbent President. Therefore, the nomination of APC Presidential candidate for the 2019 Presidential election will be highly competitive especially with the presence of formidable aspirants from the South-South and South East geo-political zones. These Presidential aspirants are far better than any other aspirants in the country. Any of them is better positioned than any aspirants in the country to take Nigeria and APC to the next height.

We must not take our minds off the fundamental issue generated in the discussed criticism of the youths, which is the quality of our leadership. Looking at Buhari's criticism and where he made the statement; one is inclined not to now hesitate to agree with those who are demanding that the minimum educational requirement for the office of the President of Nigeria should be a university first degree or equivalent. But with our experience with the former President Goodluck Jonathan who claim to have PhD, there is a compelling argument against a university first degree as a precondition for the office of the President. Education alone does not make a leader. Leaders are born. Education only enhance natural leadership attributes.

If the incumbent President Buhari that is not so educated and former President Goodluck Jonathan that claim to be educated both have disappointed the country in their leaderships, it means something is wrong with the way we nominate our Presidential candidates and elect one of them as the President. Could this be corruption, vote rigging or godfatherism in the process? We must look beyond any minimum level of education as a precondition for the office of the President. A Presidential aspirant or candidate at the minimum age of 50-year-old would have the maturity, a long and reasonable career period on which his/her leadership qualities and suitability can be assessed. Bribery and intimidation at the nomination convention should stop. Adequate electoral control should be established. Free and fair election should be assured. These are paramount in our process of nomination and election of the President. They are generally the responsibility of the executive body of each political party and the incumbent President.

For example; if A and B are both over 50-year-old; A has only the minimum qualification requirement of secondary school certificate and has far better leadership qualities than B who has a university first degree, then A should be nominated and elected as the President. But if B has better leadership qualities and at the same time has better education, then B should be nominated and elected as the President. The number of godfathers that are behind A or B and the home any came from should not influence the decision of the political parties' representatives that nominate, outside natural leadership attributes and level of education. Nomination by each political party should be for the best of the lot of the aspirants. In the main election, with free and fair vote, the electorate should be able to choose the best from all the Presidential candidates.

For Buhari, it is politically over. He left things too late. Buhari is advised to concentrate on conducting a peaceful, free and fair 2019 general election for the country. Obasanjo's third force political party will not manifest unless APC took the wrong step by nominating its Presidential candidate from the far North. As things are, it is only APC, as a political party, that can reposition things and remedy this political quagmire in the country by nominating its 2019 Presidential candidate from the South-South or South-East geo-political zones.


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