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2 Feb 2018

Buhari to youths: watch character of aspirants

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged the youth to be concerned about the character of those who aspire to lead Nigeria. He said they should offer themselves for service.

“Being apolitical, ultimately, does you no good as political leaders make decisions that affect you in many ways. As such, you should be concerned about the character of those who aspire to lead you, just as I urge you to offer yourselves to serve where possible. “

Yesterday’s admonition by the President came as the race for the general elections next year gather steam following last week’s “special press statement” by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which has generated a flurry of political activities, including  Wednesday’s  inauguration of the Obasanjo-promoted Coalition for Nigeria Movement in Abuja.

President Buhari, represented by a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University  (ABU),  Prof. Shehu Abdullahi, told graduands at the 27th Convocation of the Federal University of Nigeria, Minna, the Niger State capital, of the need for mentorship of upcoming leaders to teach them the right thing.  ”It has become imperative as we mentor those who aspire to succeed us as the leaders of a better Nigerian,” he said.

Buhari described the youth as the greatest resource of the nation and urged them not to lose hope but to continue the journey of greatness they are destined for.

He urged specialised universities to key into the focus of government on the provision of infrastructure, agricultural and solid minerals development by positioning relevant programmes and faculties.

Buhari advised the youth to join the anti-corruption crusade.

“I assure Nigerians of our commitment to fighting corruption within the ambit of the law.

“However, we need the support of the youth and the entire citizenry to succeed.

“To this end, I implore all students, most especially the graduands, to rededicate themselves as ambassadors in this moral crusade,” he said.

Buhari said his administration was determined to address the challenges facing education sector, saying, “it is in this direction that we released N23 billion for the payment of allowances to staff”.

Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, said 3,741 graduands were conferred with various degrees and diplomas.

Bala said of the figure, 3,096 received first degrees with 62 bagging first class; 1,006, second class upper; 1,526 second class lower; 468 third class and 34 pass.

According to him, 426 receive masters degrees; 46 bagged doctorate degrees; 173 others will be given post graduate diplomas

In Abeokuta yesterday, former President Obasanjo continued his push against the reelection of President Buhari when he registered for the Coalition for Nigerian Movement.

He was not at the launch of the movement in Abuja on Wednesday but officials of the group, including former Governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) and Donald Duke (Cross River) were in Abeokuta to witness the event.

After his registration, Obasanjo said the CNM is not a “third force” but a popular movement of Nigerians, irrespective of their political affiliations, to propel the country forward.

He said the leadership of the country had taken nation – building for granted, with citizens being robbed of their sense of belonging. Obasanjo noted that the composition of the present security apparatus of Nigeria negated the federal character principle enshrined in the constitution.

He said his earlier statement in which he chronicled many things that were not going on well and suggested  ways of tackling them, was not done lightly or frivolously or due to bad belle but out  of deep concern for the country.

According to him, Nigeria “must rethink and retool”, if the instruments being used in nation – building and governance since independence have served the country and citizens right.

He said CNM is the new direction to mobilise Nigerian populace for  true development, unity, cooperation, security, rule of law,  stability, welfare and wellbeing.

To the ex – President, if Nigeria must change for better, the real change should  be brought about by the youth and women, who he said were often the direct victims of things that weren’t working.

He noted  that the registration  was a follow-up to his earlier statement issued by him  about the state of the nation where he also offered his piece of advice.

Obasanjo explained that the current system had not given Nigerians what they wanted or must  have, adding that the new coalition would be “bottom – up” driven to give hope to the youths, dignity and encouragement to women.

” Let me emphasise important areas, programme, priorities or processes for improved attention. To start with, we seemed to have taken nation – building for granted.

”Nation – building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country.

” For instance, the federal character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation and avoid the concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places as we currently have in the leadership of the security apparatus.

” To avoid such non – integrative situation, we have the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission, both institutions which must raise alarm or call for correction of actions by the executive that violate the spirit of our constitution.

”In like manner, the spate of violence, criminality, organised crime, insurgency and terrorism have not received sufficient proactive ameliorative responses through transformational leadership – a determined leadership that brings cohesion and wholesomeness to the polity. Nobody and no group should feel excluded in his or her own country,” Obasanjo said.

Speaking on his meeting with President Buhari in Addis Ababa during the African Union (AU) Summit, Obasanjo said it was  baffling that Nigerians were surprised  that he could walk up to President Buhari to greet him, after chronicling the ills of his administration and advising him not to contest in 2019.

“I wonder why some Nigerians were worried why I had to pay respect to the Nigerian President; that’s my own upbringing as a well born and bred Yoruba boy.

“That doesn’t mean that what I have said about the President, which I did not say out of bitterness and hatred. It is evident that the President has performed, in some areas, good enough,  in other areas not good and a proper advice which he may take and he may not take.

“I didn’t do that out of malice or out of ‘bad belle’; I did it out of my respect for that office and my interest and I hope in your interest and the interest of Buhari in Nigeria.

“I went to him just before the beginning of the opening of AU Summit; I had gone round some few other presidents; should I ignore him? So, I went to my President, greeted him and we joked before General Salami said we should have a group photograph,” Obasanjo said.

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