With the presidential election just a couple of weeks away, the question some have been asking is; What sort of president would Nigerians like to have?
In this report, Adedayo Ademuwagwam takes a look at qualities of the two leading aspirants in the 2015 presidential election; President Jonathan and General Buhari.
The presidential election has been moved to March 28 to much disappointment, but one good thing about it is that it gives us more to time look at the candidates and see who’s really best to lead our country and be our president.
A lot has been written and said already about President Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, but there are some important qualities that we should really look for in a president.
Here are seven qualities to look for in a president and how Jonathan and Buhari score on each quality.
A president has to be likable. He or she has to be able to attract a following and arouse a feeling of enthusiasm among the people.
Jonathan used to have this especially when he first became president in 2010 after Yar’adua passed on. People were impressed by his personality and his rise to the top, but he’s clearly lost most of that popularity. Buhari on the other hand has grown more popular over the last one year and he’s now more popular than ever. With his towering height and the way he raises his fist up in the air like a revolutionary, Buhari is clearly more charismatic than Jonathan right now.
How they score:
Anyone who wants to be president should have a good history. People aren’t perfect, but if you’re running for president you’ve got to be clean because people are certainly going to ask for your record.
That’s been Buhari’s biggest problem this year. His record as a former head of state is embarrassing even to his supporters. He and his vice Tunde Idiagbon ran an oppressive government and he’s still judged by it till today.
Jonathan has a better human rights record than Buhari, but frankly none of these two candidates have an A record generally speaking. That’s why the Economist described this election as one between an utter failure and a former dictator with blood on his hands.
Nigerians need a president who’s reputable for doing what is right — someone who is upright, respectable and who can be trusted to govern the country with integrity. We need someone who will be a model to our young people and to our society.
Jonathan and Buhari both have a fairly nice character, but it certainly could be better.
- Public speaking
Presidents have to give speeches all the time. It’s not about oratory. It’s about the ability to communicate effectively in a way that touches people and instills confidence. People need to want to listen to you speak. That’s what gave Obama the edge when he first ran for president as an obscure senator, and it’s what made him world famous.
The truth is neither Jonathan nor Buhari gets a pass mark in public speaking, but Jonathan is probably better at expressing himself.
What the heck is the presidency for if it’s not leadership?
The president of Nigeria isn’t the president of any party or group. We need a president that can act decisively. We need strong leadership in Aso Rock. That’s one thing that’s clear. We need someone who can lead the way forward and take decisions in the collective interest of the Nigerian people, not in the interest of his party or ethnicity. We need a president who will fire someone when it has to be done, who will move to solve problems and show the people some real leadership with an impact so strong the people can feel it even in the grassroots.
Buhari was effectively a figurehead when he ruled in the 80s. Everyone knows Idiagbon was the one calling the shots. People already think if he wins, the vice president may be more active than him given the precedence. Jonathan too has slackened as president and failed to stand up sometimes when it mattered, but does he offer better leadership?
Being president doesn’t mean you have to be a genius or know astronomy, but you have to be intelligent by more than average. It has to show in your ways, your speech and in your decision making. You also have to be knowledgeable about the issues that matter and be able to apply the knowledge to solve problems and make things better.
Buhari hasn’t demonstrated better than average intelligence, neither has Jonathan.
- Public spirit
Public spirit is the willingness to do things for the good of the people and the society. A president is the leader of the country. He must have a heart for the people. That should be the focus of his policymaking. He should be someone who constantly thinks something like, how will this affect my people? What I can do for them? How can I make things better for them? What do they need? That’s how a president should be thinking, and this should show in his or her ways.
Again, neither Buhari nor Jonathan has shown enough public spirit deserving credit.
Supporters of each of these two candidates would say their candidate is the best man for the job, but one thing we’ve got be honest about is that these two people aren’t our best choices. We could have better options if circumstances were different, but sometimes what looks like an unsuitable choice may turn out to make a huge difference after all.