As the 2019 general elections
approaches, Nigerians will have another opportunity to elect credible leaders along
all strata of government. It is important that these leaders are young,
intelligent and vibrant personalities who will steer the ship of our great
nation into a future of prosperity, growth and development. 

I propose to all Nigerians,
most especially young Nigerians to ensure we vote young politicians who have shown
a track-record of excellence and who exemplify the values we hope to see cascade
in the administration of our government.

This piece is not an indictment
on President Buhari, neither does it aim to criticize his administration. As
the President of this country, he has done his best in the past four years to
right the many wrongs pervading the nation. However, I feel it is time that His
Excellency steps aside for this youthful agenda.

It is also not my intention to
suggest in any way that our salvation lies with any political party, for any
political observer will note that Nigerian political parties have no clear set
out ideologies and are usually made up of the same class of people. For
instance, many politicians who were once members of the APC, have decamped to
the PDP and vice –versa. In party politics, personal interests hold a more
superior position over national interests and within the party, everyone just
wants to win, no matter the cost to our polity, our policies or even our

Furthermore, though I campaign
for a youth agenda and alliance, I do not propose that we elect leaders based
solely on their age but also on the merit of their candidacy. Currently, many Nigerians
are unhappy with the state of the nation. Our health care systems rather than
improve have continued on a steady decline, medical practitioners are fleeing the
country in droves, businesses are dying or on life support and there are not
enough jobs for the millions of unemployed youths. Insecurity in the North-
East and the pockets of violence by herdsmen have taken farmers off the farms.
Also, there is no access to capital or cheap loans for boosting the economy and
just incase you are wondering the Trader Moni Programme is not the solution for
there is little N10,000 can do to help float or scale a business. Especially as
the environment has not been made conducive for business to flourish in.

It will take more than a young
President to reverse the name we have earned as the poverty capital of the
world, neither will the election of one young President fix all that needs to
be fixed, however, such a leader will understand adequately the thought process,
and needs of the youth. If we remember, the modern Nigeria was shaped by the
sheer will of young Nigerians. Sadly, the young leaders of yesteryears are still
the leaders of today, many of whom have outlived their youthfulness and
usefulness, such leaders should not be given the mandate of crafting a Nigerian
future they would not be part of.

However, like I mentioned above,
it is not only about electing a youthful leader, it is about electing a young
leader who is the best man for the job. For instance, for the position of
President, we have quite a number of young leaders who have signified interests
in occupying the number 1 office, including Fela Durotoye (46 years), Kingsley
Moghalu (55 years), Eunice Atuejide, Donald Duke (56 years), Omoyele Sowore (47 years) and Bukola Saraki
(55 years).

Many of the above-mentioned candidates are successful in their own right,
having established successful business and had high-flying careers. However,
not all of them are fit to be regarded as the best young person for the job. For,
if success is all it takes to administer a country, the United States will not
currently be regretting their choice of a leader. If I were to make a list of
some of the criteria I will like to see in who holds the office of President,
they will include –

1.       A
good leader

2.       A
patriotic citizen

3.       A
healthy person

4.       A
skilled negotiator

5.       A
background in and wide understanding of governance

6.       Excellent
budgetary experience

7.       A
good understanding of foreign affairs policies

8.       Compassionate,
yet strong-willed; and

9.       Understands
the importance of government policies in business

The candidate I believe possesses
all these characteristics from the above list is Bukola Saraki. He has shown
exemplary leadership as the Governor of Kwara State and as Senate President; he
is patriotic and physically fit; he showed excellent negotiation skills when
his intervention helped put an end to the JOHESU strike; he has a sterling
background in governance which started from his role as Special Adviser under
President Obasanjo; As Senate President, he has presided over national budgets;
he has a good understanding of foreign policy; he is strong willed as evident
in his rise to become Senate President and the hard positions he took while in
the role and lastly he understands the role and importance of government
policies in providing a conducive atmosphere for businesses as evidenced in the
creation of NASSBER – National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable.

If you were to elect a young
Nigerian President, who will it be?

Adedunmade Onibokun

@adedunmade is a lawyer and
writes from Lagos.