General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), Nigeria’s former military president, may have ruled out a former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from running for president in 2023 because they would be in their 70s by then.
Although IBB, as Babangida is affectionately known, did not specifically mention their names as ineligible for the presidency, he did suggest that Nigerians focus on individuals in their 60s as potential presidential candidates in 2023.
Atiku, who is 75 this year, will be 77 by the next general election in 2023, while Tinubu, who celebrated his 68th birthday in March, will be 70.
Babangida, who will turn 80 on August 17 this year, expressed confidence in the nation’s human and natural resources, and suggested that a few people in their 60s had the potential to become president and effectively run the country.
IBB said one of the reasons Nigeria has refused to progress and achieve the founding fathers’ dreams is because Nigerians no longer believe in their own country’s future. Speaking in a sneak preview of a two-part series of an exclusive interview to be aired on the Arise News Channel this morning, focusing on the State of the Nation, IBB said one of the reasons Nigeria has refused to progress and achieve the founding fathers’ dreams is because Nigerians no longer believe in their own country’s future.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who accused Nigerians of both creating and destroying their own country, identified bad leadership as a major cause of the country’s socio-economic problems.
IBB described the presidential candidates he was thinking of as people in their sixties with contacts all over the country who had been travelling around the geopolitical zones promoting their acceptability and capacity.
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.” He added that Atiku and Tinubu no longer fit the bill.
“I’ve begun to imagine a good Nigerian leader. That is, someone who travels across the country and makes friends almost everywhere he goes and knows at least one person with whom he can communicate.
“That’s a person who knows a lot about economics and is also a good politician, so he should be able to communicate with Nigerians and other people. I’ve seen one, two, or three of these people in their sixties.”
When asked if the person could win the presidential election in 2023, the former military leader from Minna said, “I believe so if we can get him.”
“I do believe in the future of Nigeria, but Nigerians do not believe in the future of their country,” the former military president, who turns 80 on August 17, 2021, said in response to a question about whether he still believed in the country’s future. They both created and destroyed.”
Reiterating his belief in Nigeria’s future and urging Nigerians to remain patriotic, Babangida, who claimed to be in good health as he approached his 80th birthday and expressed gratitude to God for sparing his life, advised Nigerians to vote for the person who has the ability to transform the country when the time comes.
Between 1985 and 1993, IBB was the head of state. He received military training in Nigeria, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States after being born in Niger State. He rose through the ranks and was known for his bravery, having played a key role in foiling a coup attempt in 1976 by walking into a rebel-held radio station unarmed.
Babangida joined Murtala Mohammed’s Supreme Military Council after Murtala Mohammed became the military head of state in 1975, and as military president after taking power on August 27, 1985, he implemented economic policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which changed the course of the country and liberalised the economy.
Babangida, who turns 80 on the 17th, is one of the leaders who, along with Muhammadu Buhari, have dominated Nigeria’s political space since 1966.