President Muhammadu Buhari says he really doesn’t care who succeeds him and won’t be handpicking one, as permutations concerning a likely successor for the retired Army General trickles into social media and mainstream chatter every other day.

The Nigerian leader won a second term in office on February 23, 2019 and was sworn-in on May 29, 2019. 

Buhari was sworn-in for a second term in office on May 29, 2019 (Presidency)
Buhari was sworn-in for a second term in office on May 29, 2019 (Presidency)
Foto: /AFP

With his second tenure set to elapse in the spring of 2023, campaign billboards of notable APC chieftains have noticeably sprung up in Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital, even though the signature ink on Buhari’s second term documents is yet to dry.

'Let them try like I did'

“Succession? To me, this is very funny. If I find anybody, I will create more problems for him or her. Let those who want to be president try as much as I did”, Buhari told a group known as Progressive in Academics (Pro-Acad) at the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, July 30. 

The remarks were in response to the group’s demand that Buhari commences the process of grooming a youth who will replace him when his tenure elapses in a few years hence. 

A military dictator in the ‘80s, Buhari ran for the office of Nigeria President in 2003, 2007 and 2011 before eventually enjoying the rub of the green in 2015 by beating then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in a keenly watched ballot.

Buhari pays surprise visit to APC PCC Situation Room during the 2019 general elections. Young people operated and mined data in the situation room (APC media)
Buhari pays surprise visit to APC PCC Situation Room during the 2019 general elections. Young people operated and mined data in the situation room (APC media)

The 76-year-old says anyone who wants to succeed him should be ready to fight for the job like he did. 

“I believe those who are interested need to know that I tried three times and the fourth time, I thank God and technology. Before they announced the result on radio and television, we got the results and those who disagreed were asked to go to court. Most of my supporters are looking for next day’s meal, they don’t have money to give to lawyers. So I said God dey!

“So, the fourth time because of technology they couldn’t rig the elections, so I won. So this time around I tried to work hard. I think you have more to do as intellectuals to make sure you correct Nigeria’s intellectual development, it is very important for the next generation.

“A lot of our young people are taking things for granted. Imagine to contest elections three times and ending up in the Supreme Court, it takes a lot of conviction and hard work. But people take things for granted, they say ‘I want to be the president’. As if I just closed my eyes and opened and I got it", he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and the party's national leader siwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the APC Caucus meeting in Abuja on Monday, February 18, 2019 (APC media)
President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and the party's national leader siwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the APC Caucus meeting in Abuja on Monday, February 18, 2019 (APC media)

Buhari and his governing political party, APC, have been criticized for not appointing young persons into the federal cabinet or handing them juicy and influential government positions. 

The president did promise to appoint young people into his second term cabinet, but a recently released list of ministerial nominees from the presidency came laden with former governors, ex senators and geriatric party faithful who operate the patronage network and crony system in the politics of Africa’s most populous nation.