By Wilfred Eya, Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje
Less than 60 days to the 2023 presidential election, many Nigerians are still grappling with qualities President Muhammadu Buhari must have to rescue the nation out of the woods towards economic recovery and development. The choice is among four leading contestants which includes the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Atiku Abubakar, Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi and New Nigeria Peoples Party(NNPP), Musa Kwankwaso.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, believes that what Nigerians need in 2023 is a leader that understands the language of the global economy. He said he was disappointed when former President Goodluck Jonathan said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala would coordinate the economy, noting that ever since then, he has been bitter. He stressed that leadership all over the world is about the economy as it determines everything.
“Economy determines the political, social, cultural, religious, ethnicity and every other value you may think about in any society. So, the leader must understand the language of the global economy because when the economy is not stable, there can’t be a stable democracy, and that will invariably lead to problems like poverty, unemployment, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism among others because the economy is not stable. So, the leader that Nigerians need in 2023 must have a clear and deep understanding of the global economy,” he said.
For the President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Nigerians need a competent but experienced leader in 2023 but he believes that experience should matter most because the country, according to him, is already in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and needs somebody who will be able to manage the situation very well so that at the end of the day, Nigerians can all have a reason to smile. He warned that any attempt to elect an inexperienced person, or somebody who lacks capacity to bring Nigerians together as one would be catastrophic.
“Any attempt to have a leader who lacks patriotism, and who is sectional in thinking, will lead to the balkanization of the country and we don’t pray for that. May God forbid that we should be part of such an arrangement; so, this is the kind of a leader we look up to having in the 2023 election,” he submitted.
However, the President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus, believes that Nigerians have certainly gone through a lot of challenges in the past seven and a half years of President Muhammdu Buhari, particularly with his regular visit to hospitals on health grounds. “We know that when President Buhari came in, he was visiting hospital more regularly than staying in the office to do the job. So, Nigerians wouldn’t want that kind of a person that is challenged by age, health and other things. So, we need somebody who is young and strong and who has the capacity to do the job both mentally and physically. We want a president that has track records of transparency, track records of one who fulfils his promises, and track records of ability in governance. We need a president that will do what he says and not one that will deceive Nigerians with lots of promises and fulfill none” he stated.
He said there is a candidate who stands out among all the major contenders in that regard and noted that he is young and vibrant and his track records and performance in the past stand him out as somebody Nigerians can trust.
“So, we need a president who will be detribalised, who will not do things based on nepotism and who has the energy, capacity and track records of fulfillment. Such a president will take Nigeria to the next level and my advice to Nigerians is to go for such a person,” he stated.
Former Managing Director of Daily Times Newspaper, Chief Tola Adeniyi noted that Nigeria faces serious existential problems that neither the elections nor the proposed national census rank among the priorities of the country.
He said, “I don’t believe holding elections or conducting bogus census is the priority of Nigeria now. The only reason we are discussing election is because the enchanters and the enchanted are doomed. Otherwise, election wouldn’t be on the table.”
He said Nigerians have been blindfolded by the periodic elections and have failed to see the existential threats.
“Imagine a people being robbed at gunpoint and they are embracing their traducers; imagine all the horrors of this world staring a people in the face and they are preparing for the rituals of an annual festival…That is Nigeria and its idiotic serfs for you. A country blindfolded by her politicians who have put a huge spell on her and the entire citizenry… Electioneering is the blindfold which has driven a people into unspeakable frenzy… People should by themselves and for themselves tear off the blindfold. What Nigerians need today is to sit round a round table, dissolve the Union that had not benefitted anybody except a tiny few with ballooned cheeks, swollen bellies, Michelin-tyre buttocks, and zany costumes.
“This artificial temple has broken up, let’s break it down before it collapses on our heads. There is no sane person in any part of the contraption called Nigeria who honestly thinks that the Lord, Fredrick Lugard’s woeful and calamitous experiment is worth saving… Even if you surrender the geographical space called Nigeria to the 156 leaders in the United Nations to administer, the stranger-characters lumped together would not allow it to work…,” he said.
Director at Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Prof Anthony Kila said the characteristics expected of the next president are realism, vision, vigour, and empathy, even as such a person must also fix the infrastructure to be adjudged successful.
He said, “The problems of the country remain what they were eight years ago: security, economy, corruption, and infrastructure like electricity. The incoming leader will be judged as successful only if they show they can solve these problems.
“As Nigeria goes to the polls, I am convinced that the qualities required in the right leader are that of a realism, vision, vigour, and empathy.
“The country in my view needs someone capable of pragmatic understanding of our current situation and yet has the vision to see beyond where we are and know how to turn the challenges of the country into opportunities.
“Our problems are not afflictions of nature; they are mostly man made calamities created due to incompetence or outright fraud and various forms of abuse of power and office by those in charge of the affairs of the country at various levels. The right leader must therefore have the vigour to fight consolidated and powerful but immoral and illegitimate interests.
“There is a general disconnect between rulers and the people in the country and this creates policies that are not respectful of citizens; the country needs a leadership that can understand and relate with people so that policies will reflect what is urgent and feasible for the people.”
Former President of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think-tank group, Goddy Uwazurike said the next President of Nigeria should understand the economic dynamics of the country and must be physically fit to function.
“The next president should be a person knowledgeable in economic affairs; he does not need to be an economist, but he must be aware of economic directions in the world. An example is the opening which the Ukraine war has done in the supply of gas. We expect the new president to flow easily in the need to move into the vacuum created by the war.
“A president of Nigeria must be physically fit for he needs to sleep minimally and react to any national situation. His health is a matter of national concern as our current Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohamed stated when he was in opposition. No more shall we wallow in ignorance about the president.
“The next president must see himself as our servant and so communication is a sine qua non. We must know what is going on.
“Respect for the constitution is very important. It is outrageous that a president who has sworn to uphold the constitution, turns around to harass the other two arms of the government into submission. In other words, he must be a true democrat. He must understand the workings of the rule of law.
“The next president must be conversant with the world today. It is easy to say he must be below 70 as is the trend in the rest of the democratic world but USA is an exception.
“The new president must be education conscious and transparent. To have a president who is opaque is dangerous. Today, the welfare of the teachers is treated as an irritation. Our education certificates are now questioned all over the world. It is up to the president to address the world on the restoration of our educational dignity.
“Finally, a tribalist/ religious bigot must not be elected. He will bury the country in a mountain of rubbish.”
Executive Director, The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma said the President of Nigeria come 2023 should be “well-informed, visionary, selfless and patriotic and understands Nigeria’s political history, its socio-economic and political trajectory and challenges and has the mental and intellectual capacity and commitment, and physical fitness to confront the difficult task of rebuilding Nigeria and turning it into a prosperous nation state founded on justice, equity, freedom and equal opportunities for its diverse peoples.”
According to him, “Nigerians need a president who has the courage to confront corruption, tackle insecurity and rebuild the economy and turn the country into a viable nation where every citizen and every section will be treated with equality and fairness without nepotism.
“The next president should be able to shun religious or ethnic considerations in making choices but must focus on leadership qualification, knowledge, and capacity to tackle Nigeria’s challenges.”
A public affairs analyst, Mr Adebayo Adeolu also agreed that the next president must be visionary.
He said, “What was the vision of the men who fought for the independence of Nigeria and how far has Nigeria come through with their vision in the past 63 years?
“It can be concluded with ease that we changed direction and became colonies to not one nation but to many other developed countries around the world.”
He charged Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the general elections to take back the country.
He said, “Nigerians have no choice but to take back the country from those bastardising the nation; they should pick the best candidate who knows what he wants to do and is functioning mentally with his memory and health in sound order.
“Voters must pick younger people with ideas that can change the fortunes of Nigeria. We expect the next President of Nigeria in 2023 to be dynamic and have good health; he must be energetic and must not be more than 70 years old, he must know how to act effectively, and he must be aware of what is happening around Nigeria.
“The next president must be conscious of what is happening in the country and should be able to recognise emerging situations before they get out of hand.
“The next president must not play favouritism and nepotism; he must be an enlightened man and should place the interest of all above his personal interests.
“The next president must have respect for every Nigerian and must be able to handle every issue directed at him.
“Nigeria needs a President that is not vain, a president that is frugal and is interested in developing Nigeria in all the regional zones, not a tribal leader.
“The next President must not wear his religion around, he must create a balance in the armed force and in his appointments, his foreign and economic policy must put Nigeria first.”