Monday, 11th December 2023

Nigerians tackle IBB over comments on 2023 poll, June 12

By Seye Olumide (Ibadan), Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja)  and Eniola Daniel (Lagos)
07 August 2021   |   4:25 am
Many Nigerian, especially youths, have angrily disagreed with the submission of former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) that Nigeria’s next president should be someone in his 60s...

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

• Age Has Nothing To Do With Good Leadership – Youth Groups
• June 12 Will Forever Be His Nemesis, Says SNF

Many Nigerian, especially youths, have angrily disagreed with the submission of former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) that Nigeria’s next president should be someone in his 60s, arguing that age does not determine the ability of anyone to be a good leader.

The former military leader, popularly known as IBB, who spoke during an interview with Arise TV yesterday morning, identified bad leadership as the cause of the socio-economic challenges facing the country.

He went ahead to paint a picture of who should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in office in 2023, stating that Nigeria’s next president should be in his 60s and one who should be able to talk to Nigerians.

His words: “If you get a good leadership that links with the people and tries to talk with the people; not talking on top of the people, then we would be okay.

“I have started visualising a good Nigerian leader. That is, a person who travels across the country and has a friend virtually everywhere he travels to, and he knows at least one person that he can communicate with.

“That is a person, who is very versed in economics and is also a good politician, who should be able to talk to Nigerians and so on.

“I have seen one or two or three of such persons already in his sixties. I believe so if we can get him.

“I do believe in the future of Nigeria, but Nigerians don’t believe in the future of their country; they created and they destroyed.”

Reacting to his submission, Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the country needs a younger president who understands the reality of the majority of the population.

“I do not agree with IBB because age does not determine the ability of anyone to be a good leader. As a country with a huge youth population, Nigeria needs a younger president who understands the reality of the majority of the population and is willing to creatively work with diverse and innovative ideas to address our current challenges.

“The focus for the next elections for a lot of young Nigerians is a presidential candidate that has the capacity, requisite competency and character to lead Nigeria.

“Nigerians need a leader who is ready to listen to the people, a leader who understands the diversity of Nigeria and is capable of managing diversity. We do not want a regional leader, but a national leader who has travelled across the 36 states in Nigeria and is ready to work with a team of capable Nigerians from across the country. This is why we need a younger leader without the burden of past prejudices and primordial sentiments in 2023,” she said.

On his part, a civil society activist, Achike Chude, urged Nigerians, especially the youth, not to fall for the antics of the older generation, saying their aim was to keep the country tied to their aprons of selfish political and economic interests.

Wondering why Babangida, who has seen it all in and outside of government as a former Head of State suggested the age frame of who should lead Nigeria next at this stage, Chude said, “what IBB is indirectly telling us to continue with in 2023 is the ‘same of the same’ that have failed woefully to change or add value to our country after this government.”

He added: “He cannot tie us to the past, not even to his own tenure past. The people he allegedly mentioned were part of our problems. What he is trying to tell Nigerians is that they don’t want anyone that will threaten their interests.”
Chude urged the youth to be proactive and sensible, saying, “for the former president to have come out on the kind of President Nigeria needs next at this point in time is very strategic. It appears like an agenda setting for the country again.”

The activist agreed that the country has had some younger people in positions of power since 1999 whose performances were not up to expectations. He, however, lamented that it was regrettable that such younger people who found themselves in political offices mostly got there with the backing of the same old people and not by popular choice.
On the kind of leader Nigerians want in 2023, Chude said: “It is imperative to realise that age will be of an advantage in the first instance. We need a leader that is well-educated and vast in international interactions. We need a nationalist and a cosmopolitan person who will eschew ethnic sentiment in his appointments. A kind of leader that is completely different from the one we have currently or the likes at the helm of affairs today. Nigeria cannot afford to subscribe for a leader that will continue to waste our resources on foreign medical treatment.”

The convener of Concerned Nigerians Group, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, also stated that he agrees 100 per cent that the next president of Nigeria should not be an old person who is battling with his health.

“This is why I have been vehemently kicking against the aspirations of Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu; these are old, tired politicians. They should go and rest because even developed countries need a very strong healthy president and this is why I believe the next president of Nigeria should be a young person, at maximum, somebody in his 60s, which is why I agree with IBB in his assertion,” he said.

The Head, Public Affairs Bureau, National Consultative Front (NCFront), Dr. Tanko Yunusa, also said that Nigerians have been calling for younger people to occupy leadership positions, adding that IBB must not disqualify people who are less 60 years old.

“Even though a lot of us have been agitating for a youthful leader based on the experience we have had regarding the health challenges of some of our leaders, pegging it at 60 by the former president makes it difficult for the younger generation to run for the post. We have seen around the world where young persons from the age of 30 have stood for presidential elections.

“So, we would advise that the race should be opened by giving opportunity to the younger generation so that we can do without the older ones who have challenges with their health. As it is now, age has shown not to be too much of an issue but an advantage for those who have capacity to rule the country,” Yunusa said.

A social activist and investment banker, Joseph Edgar, however, described the position of the former military leader as understandable.

His words: “He is looking at the front leaders and the firm grip of the leaders on the two major political parties, Atiku and Tinubu. IBB is not saying that anyone below 60 should not contest; he is only being practical.

“Atiku is fighting to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket and the party chairman, Uche Secondus is shaking. Tinubu also wants to get the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So, IBB is only looking at those two front leaders.

“So, anyone who wants to be president of Nigeria in 2023 should not be more than 60 and must have friends across the country. But that does not mean that a 20-year-old man should not contest in 2023, because IBB is not the law or INEC; he is only giving his personal opinion, which makes a lot of sense.”

IN a related development, the Southern Nigeria Frontier (SNF) has faulted the reasons adduced by the former Nigerian leader for annulling the June 12 Presidential election.

Babangida had in the same interview on Arise TV said he annulled the June 12, 1993, presidential election to prevent a coup in the country.

According to him, some top officials in the military would have staged a violent coup if he did not annul the election.

The late Moshood Kashimawo Olalekan (MKO) Abiola was cruising to victory in the election before Babangida annulled it.

Spokesperson of SNF, Olufemi Lawson, in a statement, said Babangida was being economical with the truth, adding, “IBB must desist from distorting the nation’s history.”

Lawson said: “Our reaction is pertinent to dismiss Babangida’s reason for the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, for the sake of posterity and unsuspecting Nigerians, particularly the younger generation, who IBB is out to manipulate, with his incorrect historical claim.

“It is very disturbing, that despite the acknowledgement of the clean victory of Chief MKO Abiola as the winner of the election, adjudged to be the freest and fairest in our history, by local and international stakeholders, including the courageous decision of the incumbent administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to recognise the victory of Chief Abiola and the subsequent conferment of the highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), Gen. Babangida still lives in his lies of the past that the annulment of the election was to avert violence and a bloody coup in the country.

“We insist that if there would have been any violence in the aftermath of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, it must have been one that would have been orchestrated by the ‘evil genius’ himself, and not any right thinking group of Nigerians, including the Nigerian military, which Babangida is using his old age to blackmail.

“SNF wish to sound it clear to Gen. Babangida that despite his attempt to distort the history of June 12 presidential election, the decision of his regime to annul the election will forever remain his nemesis.

“While we concede that it is within the right of Babangida to express himself through the media, we will not watch the unapologetic former military dictator to continually insult the sensibilities of our people, especially the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for the actualisation of the June 12 mandate,” he said.

Lawson continued: “We must, however, let Gen. Babangida know that the memory of our people is not as short as he thinks, as his iniquities have been well preserved. 

“We shall not cease to ask until a genuine answer is given, as to why Babangida annulled the June elections won by Bashorun M.K.O Abiola and the attendant crises which consumed the lives of Chief Abiola and his wife Kudirat, Pa Alfred Rewane, and hundreds of protesters mowed down on the streets of Lagos and other cities.

“General Babangida must apologise and assuage the feelings of the aggrieved Nigerians, whose mandate he truncated with the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election.”