Wednesday, 15 May 2024 04:53

Adopting Western liberal democracy was an error by Nigeria - Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticized African countries, including Nigeria, for adopting Western liberal democracy, describing it as a mistake. Obasanjo made these remarks on Monday during a meeting with members of the House of Representatives advocating for the reintroduction of the parliamentary system of government in Nigeria. The lawmakers, led by Minority Leader Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), met with Obasanjo at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja as part of their campaign to transition Nigeria from its current presidential system to a parliamentary one.

Obasanjo, who oversaw the implementation of the American-style presidential system in the 1979 Constitution during his tenure as military head of state, expressed his support for the lawmakers' initiative. He was later elected as president in 1999 and served for eight years.

In his address, Obasanjo argued that Western liberal democracy is inconsistent with African values and history. He noted that Western democracy, with its concept of "loyal opposition," is a product of European culture and monarchical traditions, which do not align with African political systems. "We ruled ourselves before colonialism with empires and kingdoms, not through opposition," Obasanjo stated. He proposed that Africa should develop its own form of democracy, which he termed "afro-democracy."

Regarding the lawmakers' proposal, Obasanjo advised them to avoid using the term "parliamentary system" and instead advocate for a homegrown democratic model. He emphasized the need for a strategic and long-term approach to gain widespread support for the change.

In response, Kingsley Chinda explained that the term "parliamentary" was used due to the lack of a better term, but assured that their proposed system is uniquely tailored for Nigeria. Abdulsamad Dasuki (PDP, Sokoto), the group's spokesperson, announced plans for a national dialogue on the project, scheduled for July 1.

The push for a parliamentary system by the Parliamentary Group aims to return Nigeria to the governmental structure it had before the 1966 coup, which saw a military takeover and the suspension of civil governance until the reintroduction of democracy in 1979. The group's proposal includes the establishment of a prime minister as the head of government, accountable to the legislature, thus fostering a closer relationship between the executive and legislative branches for more efficient governance.

The lawmakers have introduced several constitutional amendment bills to facilitate this transition, targeting 2031 for the implementation of their proposed changes.

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