If former Nigerian Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, would have his way, President Muhammadu Buhari would have by now been packing his belongings ready to check out from Aso Rock, while a young Nigerian polítician would be warming up to take over his position on May 29, 2019.
Receiving a delegation of à youth movement that visited him in his hilltop masion in Mina, Niger State, a few days ago, Babangida insisted that a youth must be given the opportunity to lead the country in 2019.
Babangida who is an unrepentant exponent of youth empowerment, had during his long winding transition to civil rule progamme, came up with the concept of “New Breed” politicians, by which he insisted that political power should be transfered to the youths.
To make good his idea, Babangida in his Maradonic style, proceeded to ban and unban old politicians across the country, thereby clearing the coast for two young Nigerian politicians, Chief Moshood Abiola and Alhaji Tofa, to emerge and to later contest the historic Presidencial election of June 12, 1993, which Babangida later annuled.
To further push forward his insistence that political power should be given to the youths, Babangida in February this year had written President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to conclude his current tenure and leave the stage to the younger generation.
Said he: “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term in office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leaderdhip of the country”.
“While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former President, concerned Nigerian, and a patriot, who desires to see new paradigms in our shared common commitment to get this country running”, Babangida saïd, contending that “there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest”.
We completely align ourselves with Babangida on this issue, that is to say, Nigeria should give her younger génération opportunity to express themselves in politics. We believe that time is ripe for thé youths to assume the mantle of leadership of this country. Those Nigerians who took over from thé erstwhile colonial masters on attainment of political independence were mainly in their thirties and forties, and they were able to successfully hold the forte.
The problem of Nigeria, and by extension Africa in general, is that we have continued to recycle the same set of people. Those who were privileged to have political power trusted in théir hands have refused to retire, or to give way to the youths. They believe that they are indispensable, and that without them the country will simply collapse. They perpetuate themseles in office. They have no disciples in whom they are well pleased. They are successes, without successors.
That was thé reason why a 92-year old Robert Mugabe had refused to give up power in Zimbabwe until he was forcefully pushed out of office late last years. And why Houghet-Boigny of Côté Voire had to die in office. Same with Habib Bourgiba of Tunisia.
Some time in the past, Africa had many life presidents – from Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, to Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, to Emperor Jean Bedel Bokasa of Central Africa Republic, etc.
It was with the same spirit that General Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled Nigeria as military head of state for three and half years, had to come back as civilian President, ruled for eight years, and still wanted to change the constitution to extend his tenure, until he was stopped.
Our current President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been in the corridors of power since 1976. Buhari was Military Governor of Borno State (1976 to 1978), Minister of Petroleum Resources (1978 to 1979), Military Head of State (1983 to 1995), Head of Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTF) (1995 to 1999), and now Civilian President (2015 to date). This makes it a total of 42 years.
President Buhari who claims that he is now 75 years old, says that he is seeking to be elected president for another term of four years in 2019. If he succeeds in that bid he would be about 80 years old by the time he serves out his tenure in 2023, while at the same time hé would have held différent political positions for à total of 47 years.
If former President Goodluck Jonathan had listened to the voice of reason and stuck to the alleged gentleman’s agreement of serving for only one term, and not contestimg the 2015 Presidential electión, he would have remained a hero. But the sychophants would not let him be. They blinded his eyes, until they pushed him to fall into a ditch.
It is unfortunate that Président Muhammadu Buhari is trying to make the same mistake.
By the way, why can’t we have a Nelson Mandela in Nigeria ?