Aare Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) On Thursday asked Nigerians to reject aspirants who are older that 60 years while making their choice of who to vote for as the country’s president in 2023.
The octogenarian lawyer who is also the Founder, Afe Babalola University (ABUA), Ado-Ekiti said this in a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists on the qualities that the political parties and voters should qualities to look out for before adopting or voting anyone to become the next Nigeria’s President.
Babalola, in the statement entitled: “The Presidency: When a candidate Is or Not Qualified”, said that such a candidate must not be too old and must be of sound health.
Babalola, in a three-page statement explained that any candidate for the post of Nigeria’s President should not be more than 60 years old, so that if he has the opportunity of serving two terms of four years each, he would still be leaving office before he turns 70.
Babalola’s prescription will rule out some of the front line aspirants like the 69-year-old for Lagos governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and 75-year old former Nigeria’s vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the 2023 presidential race.
His advice will also also rule out 64-year old Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is under tremendous pressure to join the 2023 presidential race by groups and associations across the country.
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Babalola, commenting on health, said the candidate must be physically, mentally and medically fit.
“The President should not be a person who will be looking for medical treatment from hospital to hospital around the world.
“He must be so healthy that he should be able to work for a minimum of 14 hours a day.
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Aside age and health, the legal practitioner also said that the parties must search for the very best, without mundane considerations in picking their candidates.
He added that the country needed a candidate who would go beyond politics and embrace principle of a stronger Nigeria.
According to him, such candidate must be highly educated, up to at least, degree level and must not have history of penchant for corrupt practices.
He said the candidate must also be extra-ordinarily brilliant and have sound knowledge of the current affairs, work ethics, leadership experience, good human relations and also have clear cut vision and mission for Nigeria.
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The notable legal practitioner said that the presidential candidate should be fluent in spoken English, such that he would possess the ability to write a speech all by himself.
According to him, in addition, he must possess the ability to speak off-the-cuff.
Babalola said: “The candidate must produce evidence that he possesses unquestionable means of livelihood.
“He should not just be seeking election as a means of securing employment or to offset outstanding indebtedness or use his position as the President to divert government’s funds into his offshore accounts.”
He further advised that the candidate must demonstrate that “he is willing and prepared to serve the nation without earning salaries, as it was the case between 1960 and Jan. 15, 1966.
“The sum total of the qualities those who deserve to be voted for as Nigeria’s President are age, health, education, sound knowledge of current affairs, work ethics, experience, human relations, vision and mission for Nigeria.
“Others are; belief in the need for a new Constitution, oratory power, kindness, friendliness and firmness, previous contributions to development, economic standing and readiness to serve as well as proven ability to solve problems,” Babalola said.
“It is normal that the aspirant for the post of Nigeria’s President must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree, obtained from a reputable university.
“Sound knowledge of current affairs must also be considered.
“A person aspiring for the post of Nigeria’s President should possess a sound knowledge of Nigerian, African and world affairs for him to be able to speak and debate convincingly on any of them,” he said.
On work ethics, he said that the occupant of that exalted seat should be able and ready to work for a minimum of 14 hours a day, based on his personal knowledge of the volume of documents, petitions and applications that daily flooded the office of the President, most of which would require his personal and urgent attention.
“I know, as a fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo worked for a minimum of 18 hours a day when he was at the saddle as Nigeria’s President without leaving any file till the next day.
“That is how anyone aspiring to be Nigeria’s next President should work.
“Concerning personal attributes, the aspirant should not be arrogant or opinionated. He should be a good listener, respectful and humble.
“He must be law abiding and a respecter of the Rule of Law, vision and mission for Nigeria:
“The aspirant must be someone who is totally detribalised and who appreciates that the country, Niger Area, now called Nigeria was brought together by Europeans during the 1884 Berlin Conference without consulting the locals and without their consent.
“He must appreciate that the over 400 ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria have their different languages, cultures, religions, customs and values.
“He must, therefore, demonstrate to the voters that he believes in the evolution of nation-Nigeria from these various ethnic nationalities,” Babalola further stated.
He, however, called for a brand new Constitution for the country, in which he said the presidential candidate must be a strong believer.