General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)
He was making introductory remarks at the 50th anniversary lecture [of] Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall at the University of Ibadan, on the theme, “Youth and the Future of Nigerian Politics,” observing that the merits of young leaders as opposed to old ones is a favourite subject among Nigerian men of letters.
Speaking glowingly of Dr. Azikiwe, he cited various examples from all over the world to demonstrate that both old and young men have made significant impacts on their countries where they were competent and skillful.
On the greatness of Nigeria’s first generation leaders, Buhari said, “Dr Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awulowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello each devoted more than 40% of their regional budgets to education. We are today what we are and where we are because of their wisdom and foresight.”
The Guest Lecturer was Dr Shettima Mustapha.
Text of his address:
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS FROM THE CHAIR BY GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI GCFR ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY LECTURE NNAMADI AZIKIWE HALL, IBADAN MARCH 20, 2014
May I suggest, with your agreement, Ladies and Gentlemen that we observe a minute’s silence in honour of our fellow countrymen and women who died in last weeks multiple tragedies as a results of;
Stampedes in stadia in search of jobs
May their souls rest in peace. May God bless this country with peace and prosperity.
I am immensely grateful to the university of Ibadan management through the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar for inviting me to this great occasion.
I feel honoured to be asked to chair this lecture. Firstly, since my school days I have held Dr Azikiwe in the highest regard and the greatest esteem.
To the people of my generation and the generation before us Dr Azikiwe needs no introduction. He was the most out-spoken and internationally recognized Nigerian nationalist. Ziks’ great oratory enthralled us all.
Second, as we all know he was the first Nigerian Governor-General and President of the Federation. Zik was a true Nigerian, a nationalist and an internationalist. His vision extended beyond Nigeria or West Africa: he dreamt, like his Ghanaian contemporary Dr Nkrumah, of a Continental Union, similar to what Europe is trying to do now. Zik felt, quite rightly, that only a united Africa marshalling its human and natural resources could be a force in the 20th century.
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, former president, former Owelle of Onisha therefore deserves all the honour and accolades we can heap on him albeit posthumously.
I congratulate the University of Ibadan for still remembering and honouring one of Nigeria’s true sons.
The topic chosen for today’s lecture: “Youth and the Future of Nigerian Politics” is particularly interesting in view of the recurring public debate, favourite among Nigerian men of letters of the merits of young leaders vis-à-vis old ones.
I suppose this debate will go on and on and the protagonists will likely not accept the other side of the argument. A brief look world-wide in the 20th and 21st centuries at the success of leaders tells us that we should not hold any hard and fast views.
China and Japan post 1945 had a history of very old people managing the affairs of these two great oriental economies. Mao Zedong and Chou En-Lai in their mid-to late seventies laid the foundation for their successor, Deng Xiao Ping to bring one billion people out of poverty into self-sufficiency in food supply and an economy second only to the United States.
For several decades after World War ll, Japanese politics restricted the position of prime minister to those between 75 and 80 years old! Considering the Japanese economic miracle it wasn’t such a bad idea.
German post-war recovery and prosperity was led and guided by two old people: Konrad Adenauer who became W. German Chancellor at the age of 73 and his Economics minister, G. Erhard.
Another 70+ General Charles de Gaulle led French resurgence after the war. In Britain three old men Churchill, MacMillan and R.A. Butler managed Britain recovery through 1950s and 1960s.
In Saudi Arabia the last three kings ascended the throne in their 70s and 80s and see what transformation Saudi Arabians have enjoyed in the last 40 years. If you think that this achievement is solely due to oil resources take a look at Nigeria and consider what poor use we made of our resources.
Looking at the other side of the argument consider the remarkable achievement of Lee Kuan Yew a young man in his 30s when he assumed the premiership of Singapore.
Today Singapore is a beacon of efficiency, growth discipline and prosperity. Or the case of General Suharto of Indonesia whose administration lifted one hundred million of his people from stark poverty to reasonable level of income and employment. A miracle, if ever there was one.
Consider also the impact of another young man, John F. Kennedy. In 1961 he galvanized and kick-started American technological achievement by inspiring oratory which led to landing a man on the moon and satellite communications which has transformed the whole world.
Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, These cursory recollections from history teach us, I submit one thing. Ability, competence and skill in politics does not reside in one particular age group. The ideal is to have a mixture of experienced people who will bring their wisdom to bear and young men and women with energy and vigor to cooperatively run an administration.
A happy mixture of young and old would be the ideal, but I am anxiously waiting to hear the submission of our Guest Lecturer, today Dr Shettima Mustapha. Thank you for listening, ladies and gentlemen.
The purpose of an occasion such as this one is for participant to learn something new. I have learnt a lot today.
I would like to close with a particular short by reminding ourselves about the greatness of our first generation leaders. Dr Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awulowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello each devoted more than 40% of their regional budgets to education. We are today what we are and where we are because of their wisdom and foresight.
General Muhammadu Buhari GCFR