The Presidency: When a candidate is or not qualified
As far back as November 4, 2001, I delivered a lecture in Port Harcourt at the First Memorial Lecture of His Majesty, King Abbi Amachree IV, the Amanyanbo of Kalabari, advocating for a new people’s Constitution to replace the 1999 Constitution, which the military foisted on Nigeria when it was handing over the reins of governance to a democratically elected government in 1999. Since 2020, I have gone further to advocate that there should be no election in Nigeria unless a new Constitution is put in place to ensure that Nigeria does not recycle failed politicians again.
However, from recent events, it is now obvious that the government and the Legislature are not interested in making a new constitution. Rather, they are bent on holding another round of elections next year using the same failed 1999 Constitution. Consequently, I am compelled to advise the Nigerian electorate on the qualities, which an aspirant to the post of the Nigeria’s President must possess before voting for him.
The sum total of the qualities those who deserve to be voted for as Nigeria’s President are age, health, education, sound knowledge of current affairs, work ethics, experience, human relations, vision & mission for Nigeria, belief in the need for a new constitution, oratory power, kindness, friendliness and firmness, previous contributions to development, economic standing and readiness to serve as well as proven ability to solve problems.
Any aspirant for the post of Nigeria’s President should not be more than 60 years old so that if he has opportunity of serving two terms of four years each, he would leave office before he turns 70.
The aspirant must be physically, mentally and medically fit. The President should not be a person who will be looking for medical treatment from hospital to hospital round the world. He must be so healthy that he should be able to work for a minimum of 14 hours a day.
It is mandatory that the aspirant for the post of Nigeria’s President must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university
Sound knowledge of current affairs
A person aspiring for the post of Nigeria’s President should possess a sound knowledge of Nigerian, African and world affairs for him to be able to speak and debate convincingly on any of them.
From my personal knowledge of the volume of documents, petitions and applications etc, that daily flood the office of the President, most of which require his personal and urgent attention, the occupant of that exalted seat should be able and ready to work for a minimum of 14 hours a day. I know as a fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo works for a minimum of 18 hours a day when he was at the saddle as Nigeria’s President without leaving any file till the next day. That is how anyone aspiring to be Nigeria’s President should work.
The aspirant should have acquired reasonable and laudable experience in private and public business. He must also demonstrate that he has acquired verifiable leadership training and experience.
The aspirant should not be arrogant or opinionated. He should be a good listener, respectful and humble. He must be law abiding and a respecter of the Rule of Law.
Vision & mission for Nigeria
The aspirant must be someone who is totally detribalised and who appreciates that the country – Niger Area – now called Nigeria was brought together by Europeans during the1884 Berlin Conference without consulting the locals and without their consent. He must appreciate that the over 400 ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria have their different languages, cultures, religions, customs and values.
He must, therefore, demonstrate to the voters that he believes in the evolution of Nigeria from these various ethnic nationalities.
The aspirant must be a strong believer in a new Constitution for Nigeria, which will consist of six geo-political zones and Parliamentary system of government.
The aspirant should be fluent in spoken English. He must possess the ability to write a Speech all by himself. In addition, he must possess the ability to speak off-the-cuff.
Humility, friendliness and firmness
The aspirant must be humble, friendly, kind and generous. However, he must be firm in decision-taking.
Previous contribution(s) to development
The aspirant must be able to show evidence of what he has done for his immediate community before vying for the post of Nigeria’s President.
The aspirant must produce evidence that he possesses personal means of livelihood and not just seeking election as a means of securing employment or to offset outstanding indebtedness or use his position as President to divert government funds into his offshore accounts.
Service without pecuniary benefits
The aspirant must demonstrate that he is willing and prepared to serve the nation without earning salaries as it was between 1960 and January 15, 1966.
Ability to solve problems
The aspirant should possess the ability and viable plans to tackle the menace of insecurity, spiral unemployment, decayed infrastructure, unpaid salaries and other emoluments, inadequate funding of education and healthcare, continued depreciation of the Naira and burdensome external debt portfolio that have enveloped the country today.
The aspirant to the post of Nigeria’s President should be a prudent manager of the nation’s economy.
Aare Afe Babalola is the Founder & Chancellor of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
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