In the last couple of days, Nigerians have been inundated with declarations by politicians of their intention to contest the post of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023. It is a welcome development considering that the people need to know the persons aspiring for the highest and most important office in the land. It is an office that affects either positively or negatively the lives, livelihoods, economy, security, education, health etc., of all Nigerians. It is not too early for a discourse on the qualities needed for the highest office in the land at a time like this. This discourse seeks to point out the qualities, events and circumstances which should not be associated with any serious aspirant.
2023 should be a year of renewal when Nigerians, having seen the disaster of the last seven years, will take targeted and strategic steps, through their votes, to flush out these dregs of society, charlatans, thieves and imbecilic manipulators who have reduced Nigeria to a laughing stock in the comity of nations. But the new Nigerian can only be made possible through our engagement and articulation of the qualities we need in leadership at all levels, starting with the President of the Federal Republic.
In a critical time like this, any serious aspirant should not have been part of the persons or affiliated with organisations, who have seriously contributed to the economic, political and social adversity of the nation. Starting from economic adversity, persons with a track record of corruption in their previous public life have no business aspiring for the presidency. One need not be convicted by a court or tribunal before this applies to him. Any person who has been freed on flimsy technicalities and legalese and not on the facts of whether he actually mismanaged or stole public resources should look the other way. The person would be wasting his time and resources. Known thieves, who have not even been charged to court, need not aspire. This categorisation would apply to individuals, who everyone knew were persons of little means, who suddenly exploded into wealth after occupying a political office. This applies to former political office holders and persons who cannot account, through a means visible to the majority of Nigerians, for the sources of their wealth.
Those, who should not waste their time due to their contributions to the political adversity of the nation, include persons who have consistently and unapologetically supported the rot in the system. This includes persons who find nothing wrong with the current system and want to build on the “foundation” laid by the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime. If the incompetence, cluelessness, flagrant abuse of the rule of law, nepotism, aggravation of insecurity, etc., inflicted on Nigeria by Buhari’s regime is the foundation, discerning Nigerians should imagine what the fuller structure with the deck, windows, doors and roof will look like when the new regime takes over. Persons, who have supported and contributed to the misrule in previous administrations, need not waste the time of the country pretending to be aspirants to the highest office. Persons, who have carried money in bullion vans to bribe and subvert the electoral system contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, come under this category. Notable election manipulators and riggers and persons, who believe that they are kingmakers and godfathers, being descriptions and qualities that have no place in a constitutional democracy, should feel free to spend a good part of the money they have taken away from the treasury over the years. They will be wasting their time.
Contributors to the social adversity of the nation include persons who have displayed great moral turpitude and whose lifestyle cannot be made examples for the next generation of Nigerians. Persons who display impunity writ large and consider themselves above the ordinary laws of the land. Greedy men and women, who believe in “familiocracy,” being a system where their wives, children, in-laws and family members, in general, are entitled to an undue share of the fruits of the land, have no place in the new Nigeria. An aspirant should be able to present his educational qualifications from primary school to a university degree. Of course, the constitutional provisions notwithstanding, no one should aspire to the position of president with a primary school certificate, attempted West Africa Examination Council without evidence of the requisite credits or a dodgy background of being a certificate forger and whose name cannot be found on the roll of a credible institution at secondary and university level. Enough of half-baked and ignorant fellows, who have no understanding of philosophical, jurisprudential, economic or social views of life, presiding over their mental superiors. Enough of a “mumu show” president, who when asked clear and straightforward questions, evades them to score political points. The badge of shame and ridicule should be taken off the back of Nigerians.
The country needs a president, who can articulate and discuss ideas, present dreams and visions of a progressive and egalitarian society. The idea that Nigerians do not have a reading culture should be discarded. Every aspirant must come with a documented manifesto detailing, in concrete and reasonable terms, how he wants to tackle critical economic, political and social challenges bedevilling the nation. Anyone who has been president before and dreams of a comeback is the greatest joker of the century. You had your turn and Nigerians will never trust you again. Tell your promoters that you are not available before you experience the ultimate disgrace. Former governors who mismanaged the states placed under their care should first present the scorecard of their stewardship at the state level as a basis for asking to be promoted to the highest office in the land. It will be the greatest folly on the part of the electorate to allow a former governor to export his mismanagement skills to the centre.
The president of a new Nigeria should be erudite, knowledgeable, exposed. He should not be a local champion, whose worldview is stuck to the mindset of the sixties, seventies and eighties. No bitter fellow, ethnic or religious fundamentalist should aspire to the highest office of the land and any such aspirant should understand that the new Nigeria will not accommodate such folly.
The presidential villa is not an old persons’ home, a sick bay or a place for persons with critical health challenges. The demands of the office are too serious for a sick person. Anyone who wants to be president must first take care of his health challenges. Nigerians are entitled to an objective assessment and knowledge of the state of the health of anyone aspiring to that office.
In the final analysis, the Buhari regime has taught Nigerians a great lesson, the lesson of “shining their eyes” and how not to vote based on sentiments. If this lesson is very well imbibed and used in 2023, then the sufferings of the present day would not have been in vain.
17 January 2022