Senate President Bukola Saraki, yesterday said Nigeria needs a youthful President with vision, adding that the bane of the country’s present situation is lack of capacity in leadership.
He also said that where the country is today is too serious to be taken lightly, stressing that Nigeria has never been so disunited as it is today.
Saraki stated this when he met with leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum led by Chief Edwin Clark on Monday night in Abuja. He was grilled by the leaders on his plans for the country if he emerges president.
Saraki said: “There is a new order in the world today. All over the world, where we are now, we are looking for vibrant leadership, youthful leadership. Even developed democracies are going there because it is not a part-time job, it is not an easy job.
“Today, the President of a country is a 24-hour job if you want to do it properly, especially in an environment where you want to reform a country.
“So you need youthfulness, you need energy, you need vibrancy. And most importantly, you need to be bold and courageous in order to take those decisions that need to be taken. And also to be focused. These are the qualities that are required.”
The senate president who decried voting on sentiments lamented the lack of capacity in this administration.
He observed: “Secondly, more importantly, I think what has been one of our major problem is capacity.
“I think over the years we have voted on sentiments. We have left capacity and ability, and used sentiment to decide who should lead us. That is why we are where we are today.
“But we need Mr. President that has the capacity, that has the vision that can drive and perform. Without capacity, it is not going to happen. Yes, we will continue to be blessed with many resources. But there is no country that can provide for its people, take them out of poverty the way we are going about it.
“The Asian tigers, it didn’t happen by chance, it didn’t happen by trial and error, it happened because they had visionary leaders, leaders that know where they want to take their countries to.
“As such, we are looking for a president that will fight, help us develop, provide jobs for people who don’t have jobs. He must be somebody that knows what it takes to do it.
“I say this all the time, you cannot give what you don’t have. If a leader doesn’t have, he can’t give. It’s clear. I said it three years ago, I was harassed for it, when I said there are governments within government. There was no mistake about it.
“Governments are existing with no direction. And at such you must have a leader that understands. “
He said Nigeria must be made a country where everyone, no matter the tribe or religion, will feel a sense of belonging, saying that only a president with capacity can achieve that.
Saraki further stated: “Where we are as a country today is too serious for us to take lightly. The Nigeria that we have today has never been so disunited. When you go to many parts of the country, people will tell you ‘Do I truly belong? Are we part of this country called Nigeria?
“On top of that, over a number of years, we have seen series of impunity. People are not held accountable. There is no inclusiveness in government. There is insensitivity and lack of empathy.
“These are big issues and unless we can unite a country, everything else, development, creation of jobs, are secondary unless you can unite Nigeria.
“So, the first thing that is key to us is how do we unite this country? What kind of President can unite this country? Unity must start from the top and it is important in looking at the president, we must look at the president that can unite this country – North, South, minorities, Christians, Muslim, for them to be able to believe that that President represent all of us. That doesn’t exist now, lack of sensitivity. And these are the issues that are driving suspicion, pulling us apart.”
Saraki praised the Southern and Middle Belt elders for their selfless service to the country, noting that rather than be relaxed in their old age, they have continued to worry about the direction of the country.
According to him, “Let me appreciate from the bottom of my heart truly, the sacrifices that you’re all making at this time. Because, you would have thought, the many you have given this country that what you should be doing now is just relaxing and being able to say ‘we thank God for where the country is going.’
“But your concern, patriotism, your desire to leave a better Nigeria for your children and grandchildren is what is keeping you up till this time, thinking about Nigeria.
“For me as a individual and many of the aspirants, ours is different. We are aspiring. None of you is aspiring for any position. So, you are even more patriotic than us, you are even more committed than us. And for that, we will always try to acknowledge, I think it’s only the Almighty God that will reward you abundantly for your selfless service that you are doing in this small room, the effort you are making to make this country better.”
In his opening remark, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, explained that the objective of the forum in meeting with presidential aspirants was to deepen democracy.
He said: “Our desire is to deepen democracy in the course of our exchange by presenting the aspirants a number of national issues we feel important and critical to enable our country survive.
“We have spoken to about four presidential aspirants. We are anxious to know more about the candidates so that in our interactions with our people who are in the political parties, we can better inform them of our dialogue with the various candidates, our judgement as to how they represent the aspirations of Nigerians.
“This elections is very important to Nigerians. For many Nigerians, if we get it wrong this time, we will be singing Nunc Dimitis of our country.”
The forum has so far met with five presidential aspirants including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; Sina Fagbenro of KOWA Party; Sule Lamido and Saraki.
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