Nigeria’s oldest President, Muhammadu Buhari, clocks 80

NIGERIA’s oldest leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, clocked 80 today, Saturday, December 17.

Prominent citizens, including the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, hailed the Daura, Katsina-State-born leader.

Buhari served as a military Head of State between December 31, 1983, and August 27, 1985.

He took over as a democratically-elected President on May 29, 2015.

He is the first septuagenarian and octogenarian to lead Nigeria.

Buhari had challenges with his health shortly after he assumed office in 2015.

In 2018, The ICIR reported how he beat former President Yar’Adua’s record in seeking treatments abroad.

He has gone for many check-ups in London since the report was published.

The closest leader to him in age is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who left office on May 29, 2007, at 60 years.

Nigeria has been led mostly by young military leaders, two of whom were in later years elected presidents (Obasanjo and Buhari).

Until Buhari took over power in 2015 as President at 73 years, all 14 leaders before him (with himself as a military leader) were below 60, including Yakubu Gowon (31 years) and Aguiyi Ironsi (42).

Though two of the four leading candidates in the 2023 presidential election (APC’s Tinubu, 70, and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP, who is 76) are also above 70 years, many Nigerians are advocating for a younger President. But supporters of those above 70 say age does not affect a leader’s performance in office.

In his birthday message to Buhari on Saturday, Tinubu, in a statement by his Media Office signed by Mr Tunde Rahman, hailed the President for his commitment to nation-building and long years of patriotic service to the country.

He said Nigeria is lucky to have him as President.

The former Lagos State governor described Buhari as “a patriot, selfless and steadfast leader of uncommon zeal,” adding that “Buhari enlisted himself into the country’s service as a teenager who joined the military immediately after secondary school”.

According to Tinubu, Buhari could look back at 80 and be proud of his “unblemished record” of service to the nation throughout his military career as a soldier, platoon commander, General Officer Commanding, Military Governor, Minister of Petroleum, Head of State, Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund and as the current leader of the country.”

“I heartily congratulate my President and my leader, Muhammadu Buhari, on the momentous and remarkable occasion of his 80th birthday. Our country is lucky to have this great man and dedicated public servant at this time. President Buhari has led an extraordinary life of service to Nigeria at every duty post with unassailable integrity. History will be kind to him and record his contributions to the progress, unity and stability of Nigeria in volumes.

“As a people, we are truly blessed to have a President who sees no higher honour than the opportunity to serve his people, a responsibility he has always carried with utmost dedication.

“We are proud that at age 80, this noble man, an officer and a gentleman, is still rendering his service, recording tremendous achievements, the country making remarkable progress under his leadership, and his steady hands gradually guiding the country to the Promised Land,” Tinubu added.

On his part, Gbajabiamila described Buhari as a beacon of hope whose footprints would remain indelible in the sands of time.

The Speaker explained that Buhari had made sacrifices for Nigeria and Nigerians over the years, especially in the last seven and a half years of his stewardship as a democratically elected President.

He said the President would be remembered as the Nigerian leader who brought infrastructure development closer to the people and a leader who allowed democratic institutions to operate unhindered.

    Similarly, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, noted in his message eulogizing the President that Buhari’s life inspired millions of Nigerians.

    He said as a soldier, military Head of State and democratically elected President, Buhari consistently fought for Nigeria’s unity, development and progress.

    “As we approach the end of your tenure on 29th May 2023, you can rest assured that millions of Nigerians across our vast country genuinely appreciate your achievements in nation-building and strengthening the guardrails of democracy in Nigeria.

    “The record of your administration in infrastructural development across the nation is unrivalled and will continue to speak for your stewardship long after your retirement.”

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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