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Opinions of Monday, 1 March 2021

Columnist: Qudus Adewale Lawal

The quest for a new Nigeria

If you have led this country in the past or presently in power in any capacity particularly as: governor, cabinet member, lawmaker, head of state, president or deputy, we do not need you again to lead this country. We appreciate your efforts and leadership styles. We appreciate your contributions in the building of our country. We respect your agenda and we also overlook your inevitable mistakes. We have no reason to punish you for your grave policies, action and inaction. Rather, we commend you for the good policies you put in place and for summoning up the courage to lead your fatherland.

Where there will be grievances is when you are nursing the ambition to come back to office particularly as governors or a president. If I may ask, for what? What did you leave in office that you want to go and pick and/or fix? If you have cause to come back, that means you can categorically be compared to a student who despite abundant resources (moral, human and material resources) at their disposal fails to progress.

Nigeria’s population is estimated to be over 200 million. There are millions of sound minds with great leadership skills who can continue from where you stopped. Who can take over from you and correct your mistakes. They understand our fundamental problems, know where the shoe inches and understand the peculiarity of our country. They are visionary and vigorous.

We cannot write off the place of experience in nation-building and nationhood. We need people with vast experience and sound Intelligence Quotient. History is there for us to help us out with past knowledge. We can easily draw from the past action and inaction of our statesmen and women in the course of discharging their duties. We can learn from their mistakes and consolidate on the strength of their actions. We can also learn from great leaders and achievers across the world. History can never fail us if we do not fail to befriend it.

Besides, it is not until we recycle our past leaders that we can build an enviable country. In most cases, this has cost us avoidable regrets. We can come to you (our past statesmen and women) anytime we are approaching a crossroads for pieces of advice. Also, there is what we know today as the Council of State meeting where past and present leaders meet to rub minds on the state of the country. This is another great avenue where we can tap from the riches of our past statesmen and women vast experiences and knowledge.

Latest developments in our country show that we are now practising participatory democracy. Our people are now getting along with events as they unfold. The role of the social media cannot be overemphasised in this regard. Our voices are now heard and our votes are speaking for us more unlike before.

I do not need to be listing our endless challenges as even the unborn generations know them all. But the basic ones, particularly quality education are really depriving us of great and needed leaders. The mass of our electorate are not equipped enough to identify those who mean well for our country. They cannot analyse and evaluate manifestos neither can they question the deceitful submissions of many of these greedy and self-seeking “politickcians.” Those who ought to inform them take advantage of their naiveté to sell them cheap to this set of desperate “politricians”. Stomach infrastructure so say, is now the order of the day. Visionary leaders who cannot afford to embark on expensive campaigns nor share gifts for the electorate are not known neither are they voted for.

Our National Assembly members should review both the constitutional and electoral requirements for public offices. We cannot afford to be making a mockery of ourselves before the comity of nations. Minimum and maximum ages for our public offices should be clearly stipulated. At most, this should fall within 35 to 60 years for president, 30 to 60 years for national and state assembly members, 35 to 60 years for governors while the minimum educational requirements for the above positions should be first degree and their equivalents) with good standing.

We need to raise these requirements for us to have round pegs in round holes rather than the opposite. For local government chairmen and councillors, 30 to 50 years should be fine and they must possess a minimum of National Diploma or its equivalents. All these categories of aspirants must be refined in learning and character to boost their candidacy.

With no time, and with this increasing political consciousness with the electorate, Nigerians will compete favourably among their counterparts globally and our country will become a force to reckon with.

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