Chief Obasanjo

Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the older generations of political leaders in the country lack incentive to step out of political activities, which accounts for why many political leaders in the first and second republics are still in active political activities over five decades after.

The ex-president said this while responding to a letter written to him by Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN, entitled ‘Nigeria needs a generational shift in political leadership, in which the legal practitioner decried the poor leadership in the country characterised by endemic corruption, high level of poverty and low life expectancy, which make the country rank low in all human development indicators.

Chief Obasanjo noted that the old generation of political leaders have continued to recycle and reappoint themselves into political positions because they lack the necessary incentive, a development that has made the generational shift impossible over the years.

“So long as the older generations do not have the incentive to step down, for so long as they will continue to reinvent, reappoint and resurface, the generational shift would not come. The generational shift would need to be worked for and worked at. This is the time and so no more excuses”, he said.

He noted that the youths are currently in greater majority of the nation’s population and should therefore take up the responsibility of taking over the mantle of leadership from the older generations, who have been around for too long.

He however regretted that some of these youths, whose interest is being canvassed and who have been appointed or elected into offices both in the public  and private sectors have not lived up to expectations.

But he also said that these few young men and women, who have frittered the confidence bestowed upon them, should not be allowed to be a disincentive to other youths, insisting that this is the right time for the youths to take over from the older generations.

He therefore challenged Dr. Agbakoba to step out to work out the required framework for mobilisation, insisting that he cannot continue to sit on the fence and expect a generational shift.

Obasanjo, who also offered to provide the mentorship said” I ask you dear Olisa, you are at a point where you should step forward and develop a mobilisation framework that seeks to rearrange Nigeria on a different basis of legitimacy. Late Chief Awolowo and the Great Zik were younger than you when they threw their hats into the ring. It is time to take the hard road. Olisa it is time to jump down from the fence and siddon look corner. It is your fatherland”

“The time is now, let the young people organise themselves around positive core values. Let them become ideological in the sense of nationalism and patriotism in this struggle. This is a democracy. Politics is a game of numbers at the end of the day. The youths are in the majority”.

Agbakoba had in the letter cited late Professor Chinua Achebe’s book: ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’, which said that the situation of Nigeria is directly linked to failure of leadership.

“Our country is held back by a crop of leadership that have outlived usefulness and effectiveness as a result of old age”, he had said.

Agbakoba also said that Chief Obasanjo was 39 years when he became head of state, Great Zik was 40 years when he founded the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon NCNC, while Chief Awolowo was 43 years when he became Premier of Western Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello was 40 when he co founded Northern Peoples Congress NPC even as late Chief Emeka Ojukwu and General Gowon were in their 30s when they took the centre-stage in Nigeria’s politics.