Ahead of the 2023 elections, prominent Nigerians and groups have said that the next President of the country must be mentally and physically sound, possessing creative and transformational leadership qualities.
This is not unconnected with the current level of insecurity enveloping the country and the near comatose state of the economy which has impacted negatively on cost of living.
The Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), in separate interviews said the 2023 general election is very crucial as it will determine the future of the country.
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere said: “To be a performing president, a candidate must be in good health – mentally and physically.
He or she must be very knowledgeable; must be a visionary leader and be truly patriotic. Such a person must be a Democrat, have a listening ear and be a team leader.
“Self-discipline, honesty of purpose and sense of justice must be his or her articles of faith.
“Once these are in place, Nigeria will be on the path of greatness with the people beginning to enjoy true dividends of democracy.”
He added that the recruitment of the president goes beyond potential occupant of the number one seat, to include the template upon which the elections must be conducted – the Constitution and relevant laws guiding the electoral process must be overhauled.
To Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nigeria needs somebody with the Igbo creative and transformational ideas in order to pull the country from the doldrums and steer her on the path of socio-economic development.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, in an interview with one of our correspondents said: “Nigeria needs a president with transformative, creative Igbo ingenuity, a changeagent that can change zero to hero status; somebody who has the capacity to change zero to hero.
So it requires Igbo resourcefulness and of course, where the Igbo become necessary is that it’s only Igbo that are at home with every part of this country.
Only Igbo understand all the dialects and languages and have ethnic relationships with all parts of Nigeria. “So it’s Igbo adaptability, Igbo expertise, inter-ethnic collaboration; that’s what is required.
So it doesn’t require a narrow – minded person, but rather somebody who is broad minded, generous in views and ideas, a robust thinker who has the capacity to transform the country and is an expert in inter-ethnic relationships.”
“So what is important is someone who has robust ideas, who can create a philosophical framework of line of action and ensure that those philosophical frameworks are being implemented.
Somebody who can articulate policies and programmes that are in tandem with modern day demands for development and ensure that they are implemented assiduously, that has been the bane of this country.”
Age does not matter, says PANDEF
Also weighing in, PANDEF), through its Public Relations Officer, Ken Robinson said age has nothing to do with it as it is a number.
To him anybody can lead provided he sees the country as one and leads without bias. He said: “The thing is that age is just a number.
It is the character and the composure of the person, the mindset of the person that matters. The person could be 36, 40 or 60 and will not do well if the person does not have the right makeup.
“Babangida was in his 40s when he was military Head of State and we saw how the country was then. We don’t think that he was the best of presidents that Nigeria has had. So it is not about age.
“There are countries where people are over seventy years old and they are doing very well. Joe Biden is over 70. I guess and see the turnaround in America and other countries.
So it’s not primarily about the age of the person. It is about the character and mentality of the person.
“So PANDEF does not want to join issues with IBB in his recommendation that anybody who is above 60 should not contest for president. It is not about the person being in their 60s.
We see governors who are in their 40s and we see their conducts as governors. We have also seen governors who are over 60s and we have seen their conducts.
“It’s not about the age; it is about the makeup of the person, the quality, the character and the exposure of the person.
Does the person understand what it means to be president of a diverse country like Nigeria? Does the person have the mentality to be able to see every sector and every area of Nigeria as his constituency not minding where he or she comes from?
“We want a President of Nigeria that is indeed the President of Nigeria and will be fair to all parts of Nigeria no matter their religion, their tribe or ethnicity and the problem we are having with the present government is the nepotism, biases and discrimination in the conduct of the affairs of the state.
“We want a President who will take Nigeria as his county and as his constituency. The President of the South- West; the President of the South East and the President of North-East and North -West and North Central and the South-South.
That is the President that we want, not whether he is 40, 50 or 70. “We don’t agree with the issue of age. It is not about age. We should not cut out people because of age. If there is a Nigerian who is 70 and he is capable of ruling Nigeria and loves Nigerians, he should be. President Buhari we all know has health challenges. It is not primarily because of his age.
This is a military man that we knew. “Some of us know him personally and we know his character and the kind of person he used to be when he was (military) Head of State. He was a very fierce and determined person. But of course, he has health challenges now and anybody can fall sick irrespective of his age.”
ACF disagrees with Babangida, Jega
The apex Northern Socio- Cultural and political organization, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) disagreed with the position of the former military President Ibrahim Babangida on the type of president Nigeria needs to take it out of the president predicament.
This was as the forum also asked the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega to come out with any party he feels can do better than the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) so that Nigerians can make their choice.
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, ACF noted that Nigerians should not attach every problem in the country to the President or the presidency, adding that no matter the kind of president if the system does not support him he will not succeed
He also said if the system is wrong it might not really matter the person that is the President or his credentials, he or she might find it difficult to succeed.
Yawe said, Nigerians had taught that President Muhammadu Buhari as a former military leader would immediately tackle the prolonged insecurity in the country, but that had not been the case.
Yawe told Sunday Telegraph: “We should not blame everything that has gone wrong in this country on the presidency or the President.
You may have a person with the right qualities but if the system fails him there is very little he can do.
“Like this issue of security now. Can we have a president who has better security credentials than President Muhammadu Buhari?
He may have the best credentials but what if those below him fail him and serve him and the country very poorly.
There is very little he can do.” He said. On Jega’s call to abandon APC, PDP and embrace new party, ACF said the beauty of democracy is about choice and asked any political party that feels they are better than the present ones to come, so that the people can make their choice.
Asked if Nigerians should choose other parties, he said “Why not?
Let them come out and for the electorate decide. We should not be made to buy a cat in a sealed bag. I have said this before. Let us see the cat before we buy.
If we are not careful, we may end up buying an empty bag. “If Jega has a party in mind that he thinks will do a better job than the APC and PDP, he should come out with it let us all evaluate and judge it before the election. That is democracy,” he said.
News Express/Sunday Telegraph