He spoke at the 50th anniversary lecture of the Nnamdi Azikwe Hall of the University of Ibadan.
He said oil wealth alone without good leadership cannot take people out of poverty.
Buhari, who chaired the occasion, emphasized that the type of leadership needed to transform a nation in desperate need of development is a mixture of old, experienced leaders and young leaders who are brimming with strength and vigour.
The lecture, with the theme: “Youth and the future of Nigerian Politics,” was delivered by former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Shettima Mustafa.
At the lecture were Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi; former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja; Interim National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande; Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s eldest son, Bamidele; APC Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alh Lai Mohammed and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El Rufai.
In his remarks, Buhari praised Azikiwe for his contribution to the development of Nigeria. He recalled that he had known the late sage since his school days.
He said: “Azikiwe was the most out-spoken and internationally recognised Nigerian nationalist.
He was a true Nigerian and his vision extended beyond Nigeria or West Africa. He dreamt of Continental Union, similar to what Europe is trying to do now. He deserves all the honour and accolades we can heap on him albeit posthumously.”
With reference to the exploits of many old, experienced leaders, Buhari justified the need for such leaders to be given a chance while also accommodating young ones.
His words: “China and Japan post 1945 had a history of very old people managing the affairs of these two great oriental economies. Mao Zedond and Chou En-Lai in their 70s laid the foundation for their successor, Deng Shao Ping, to bring one billion people out of poverty into self sufficiency in food supply and an economy second only to the US.
“Charles de Gaulle led French resurgence after the war when he was over 70 years and in Britain, three old men managed its recovery through 1950s and 1960s. The last three Saudi Arabian kings ascended the throne in their 70s and 80s and see what transformation the nation enjoys 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.
“The ideal thing is to have a mixture of experienced people who will bring their wisdom to bear and young men and women with energy and vigour to cooperatively run an administration. A young Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew in his 30s assumed the premiership position and turned his country to a beacon of efficiency, prosperity and growth. John Kennedy is another good example of a young leader. He kick-started American technological achievement by inspiring oratory,”
While delivering the lecture, Mustafa, who was Azikiwe’s running mate in the Second Republic, said Nigerian youths have a lot to learn from the old politicians and the political philosophy of Azikiwe.
He said: “The youths have a great role to play in governance and national transformation just like we have in the Arab Spring, but the place of our elders cannot be pushed aside. Governance is like a relay race; those in the starting point must do well for the latter runners to finish well.”
– The Nation