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Nigeria needs experienced leaders –Buhari

Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd)

A former Head of State and leader of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, has said that the nation needs experienced leaders to develop the country. He, however, noted that governance should be a mixture of old and young competent individuals. He noted that ability, competence and skill in politics did not reside in one particular age group.

Seventy-one-year-old Buhari was speaking at the 50th anniversary lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan on Thursday, where he played the role of a chairman.

The lecture, with the theme, ‘Youth and the future of Nigerian Politics’, was delivered by a former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Shettima Mustafa.

While defending the importance of experience in governance, Buhari made references to many world leaders who transformed their countries even though they were over 70 years.

“China and Japan post- 1945 had a history of very old people managing the affairs of these two great oriental economies. Mao Zedong and Chou En-Lai in their 70s laid the foundation for their successor, Deng Shao Ping, to bring one billion people out of poverty into self- sufficiency in food supply and an economy second only to the US.

“Charles de Gaulle led French resurgence after the war when he was over 70 years and in Britain, three old men managed its recovery through 1950s and 1960s. The last three Saudi Arabian kings ascended the throne in their 70s and 80s and see what transformation the nation enjoys in the last 40 years. If you think that this achievement is solely due to oil resources, take a look at Nigeria and consider what poor use we made of our resources.”

However, the former All Nigeria Peoples Party presidential candidate, made a case for the position of younger generation in governance, saying that their strength and vigour were necessary ingredients for good governance.

“The ideal thing is to have a mixture of experienced people who will bring their wisdom to bear and young men and women with energy and vigour to cooperatively run an administration. A young Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew in his 30s assumed the premiership position and turned his country to a beacon of efficiency, prosperity and growth. John Kennedy is another good example of a young leader. He kick-started the American technological achievement by inspiring oratory,” Buhari added.

While delivering the lecture, Mustafa, who was Azikiwe’s running mate in the Second Republic, said Nigerian youths had a lot to learn from the old politicians and the political philosophy of Azikiwe.

“The youths have a great role to play in governance and national transformation just like we have in the Arab Spring, but the place of our elders cannot be pushed aside. Governance is like a relay race; those in the starting point must do well for the latter runners to finish well,”he said.

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