It was also a day the cleric who has just joined the club of Nigerian septuagenarians, with the celebration of his 70th birthday, on Wednesday in Abuja, also argued that those saying that the agitations of Nigerian youths in the social media would not have any effect on the outcome of the election, would be in for rude shock.
Kukah, who was a guest of The Morning Show, the popular breakfast programme on Arise Television, told his hosts that it was crucial that Nigerians shunned ethnicity, religion, and other primordial sentiments in choosing the next President, arguing that all those elements had remained largely unhelpful in advancing the cause of real development in the country.
Luckily, Nigerians, he said were at home with the frontline candidates, who had held positions in the past to enable them look into their track records and determine who was best suited to lead the country out of the woods as against those trying to hoodwink them with sweet slogans adding that time had come to shun mere rhetoric and interrogate their ideologies, plans and governance styles.
Hear him: “The people must interrogate their ability and capacity to govern by sheer brain and not bribe. The point is that even the whole idea of leadership is often exaggerated because we are confusing political officeholders with leaders. It is only in Nigeria that there is so much focus on the centre. Society can only grow when we extend the frontiers of knowledge and opportunities.
“Critical to all of these, we are looking for a president that has the understanding of the complexity of what is wrong with Nigeria. It is not just about people just aspiring without an understanding of the issues. My argument is that anybody who aspires to rule Nigeria and we have the opportunity to, we must redesign the template of confrontation and you must be able to confront Nigerians and answer their questions.
“I am not and won’t be surprised if the candidates are moving up and down and convincing us by taking minimalist positions and telling us these and that are what they are going to do. I won’t also be surprised if the next President of Nigeria tells us he would tackle insecurity, increase power generation, and what have you.
“The critical question is that aspiring leaders must be subjected to a litmus test by the people. The people must ask questions like since you said you want to deal with insecurity, can we get a sense of how you want to do it and achieve success? Can you show us from your background how you will be able to do this? Fortunately for us, the frontline candidates have a track record and those track records must be what we must use to project the nature of the choice we have to make.”
Stressing the youth influence in the coming elections, he said: “It’s important for the presidential candidates to listen to the young people, understand their frustrations, and align their agenda toward assuaging their grievances. The passion that drove people in 2015 has dissipated. The people have understood they were lied to and we have all seen the consequences of religious manipulations.
“The young people have become aware of this and they are asking the right questions. I encourage the politicians to go to the nooks and crannies of Nigerians to sell their convictions.
“The energy in this coming election is tremendous and I am excited about the energy of the young people and their attention to the country’s election. I believe that Nigerians are energised and they have a choice to make. But we must ensure we see through the candidates and choose right to get the desired outcome.”