With each election circle, Nigeria writes its own heart-wrenching elegy by electing candidates in their sunset years of life. APC presidential candidate Alhaji Bola Tinubu is 70 (?) years old, and PDP’s Abubakar Atiku flag bearer is 75 (?) years old.
On April 26, 2018, Rwanda’s head of state Paul Kagame hosted Mo Ibrahim and his Mo Ibrahim’s Foundation. The election of the APC and PDP octogenarians as presidential candidates in the 2023 election, brings into sharper focus what Mo Ibrahim said about Africans electing old, frail presidents.
Mohammed Ibrahim, founder and chairman of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, member of Global Board of Advisers, Council on Foreign Relations, expressed the views of rational thinking Africans when he jokingly but bluntly chastised methuselah African Presidents who cling to power at all costs. His rebuke of aging African Presidents is an indictment of Nigerians, especially the youths who keep on electing the Buharis, Tinubus, and Atikus of the world. Here’s Mo Ibrahim:
“This continent (Africa) is a continent of young people. Half of the people here are below 20 years old. Look at the average age of our presidents. It is about 63, 64 years old. We are the only continent in the world where we have presidents at 90 years old, starting new terms. I mean, are you guys crazy or what?
“We see people in wheelchairs, unable to raise their hands standing for elections. This is a joke. Yes, you are right to laugh, because the whole world is laughing at us. Look around you. Look at the United States. An economy of 15, 16 trillion dollars. We, all of Africa are less than 1 trillion dollars. This (US) is a 15, 16 trillion-dollar economy right? The most important country in the world, like it or not.
“(Barack) Obama, who happens to be half African anyway became President when he was 42 years old. If Obama was in Kenya, what will he be doing now? He will be driving a bus maybe. (Bill) Clinton became President at 46 years old. J.F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he became President. Why do these big countries, much bigger than us, entrust their economies, their nuclear weapons and all resources to people who are in their 40s? And we (Africans) only pick people at 90 years old to lead us. Lead us to where? To the grave?”
Nigeria, a sick country with 200 million sick people, will continue to elect the sickest of the sick as president to run the affairs of a dying country. This is a sad reality. There’s no hope in the foreseeable future that Nigerians will stop electing presidents that will lead them to no other place than the grave!