There has been so much talk about General Muhammadu Buhari contesting at the age of 72. There has been so much talk especially from the opposition that he is too old but people who truly seek ‘change’ know that age is intact an added advantage.
On Monday 22 December, Buhari got a big boost that he was on the right track when the people of Tunisia voted for 88-year old Beji Caid Essebsi. The veteran politician and a no-nonsense personality (just like Buhari) got the nod of the people because they wanted change just the way we crave it in Nigeria.
With 55.68 per cent of the vote he coasted to victory. But what were the key things that worked in his favour?
First, Tunisia has since undergone a turbulent political transition phase, with Islamists and secularists clashing over the political direction that the largely secular Arab country would follow and to put an end to these clashes, they voted a man with experience and vision; man that will bring an end to the killing of innocent Tunisians.
Even though he served under the dictatorship of President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali, who was ousted in 2011 after the Arab Spring revolution they know that Essebsi has retraced his step and intends to write his name in gold.
Essebsi’s age had little to do with his victory. It was his firm promises which people knew he would deliver.
US President Barack Obama congratulated Essebsi and hailed the vote as “a vital step toward the completion of Tunisia’s momentous transition to democracy.”
Is Essebsi the only example across the world? In the United States, Ronald Reegan was voted as president at the age of 69, three years short of Buhari’s 72.
In 2008, John Mc Cain, the Republican presidential candidate was 72 when he contested against Obama.
And in 2016, Hillary Rodham-Clinton who has been described as favorite to succeed Obama will be 69 if she does enter the White House as president.
It is not about the age, it is about issues, policies and the change that the person will bring. Buhari is actually 16 years younger than Essebsi and I want to believe that the change Nigerians crave will drive them to vote Buhari in February 2015.
As Governor Babatunde Fashola said, “The real problem is not their age; it is the age of their ideas.” These words were said four years ago. Never have they been truer than they are today.

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