Former Nigerian military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, (IBB) has said Nigeria’s next president should be in his 60s, ruling out two major aspirants, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, from the 2023 presidential run.
Though he did not make a direct reference to the duo, IBB, during an interview with Arise TV, suggested that individuals in their 60s should be the focus of Nigerians as potential presidential candidates in 2023.
From available records, the next general election will be held in 2023, and by that time, Atiku should be 77, while Tinubu, who marked his 68th birthday in March, would have turned 70 years.
Babangida opined that the nation is endowed with both human and natural resources, and hinted at a few individuals, whom he said were in their 60s, as having the capacity to become president and could effectively run the country.
The former leader, who accused the Nigerian people of creating and at the same time, destroying their own country, identified bad leadership as yet a major reason for the socio-economic challenges facing Nigeria.
Babangida further said one of the reasons Nigeria has not developed or achieved the dreams of its founding fathers was because Nigerians no longer believed in the future of their own country.
Talking about the presidential hopefuls he had in mind, IBB said they were persons in their 60s with contacts across the nation and who had been traversing the geo-political zones marketing their acceptability and capacity.
Specifically, on the importance of leadership in nation-building and where he thought the likes of Atiku and Tinubu no longer fit the bill, IBB said: “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.”
But when asked if the person could emerge victorious in the 2023 presidential election, he said, “I believe so if we can get him.”
Responding to a question on whether or not he still believed in the future of Nigeria, the former military president, said:
“I do believe in the future of Nigeria, but Nigerians don’t believe in the future of their country. They created and they destroyed.”