On Monday, the Presidency attributed the current state of Nigeria’s democracy to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, conveyed that the present democratic system in the country reflects the direct influence of Obasanjo during his tenure as the military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and as a civilian President from 1999 to 2007.
“Obasanjo ought to know that he brought this thing into Nigeria. He was the one who made us adopt it in 1979. He must have seen it as expensive and unsuitable when he governed us for eight years and even wanted an extension for another four years.
“So, the way he is sounding, it is like the man is getting wiser after leaving office,” Onanuga said, reacting to Obasanjo’s post-presidential stance.
The Presidency responded to remarks made by Obasanjo during the high-level consultation on Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa held at Green Resort Legacy, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
Obasanjo criticized Western democracy, stating that it hadn’t effectively delivered good governance and development in Africa. He advocated for a reevaluation and adaptation of democracy to better suit African nations, pointing out the Western model’s neglect of African history and complexities.
Advocating for an “Afro democracy” tailored to Africa’s unique needs, the former president highlighted the flaw in liberal democracy as it was not indigenous and failed to consider African history and multicultural complexities, among other distinct aspects.
However, the Presidency held the former leader responsible for implementing a poorly replicated model during his time as Head of State and subsequently as President.
It criticised Obasanjo for not advocating a better system despite his current views saying, “If he believes in what he is saying now, he ought to be an advocate of the need to go back to the parliamentary system.”
Onanuga added, “We were practicing the parliamentary democracy the British left for us. Then, the military struck in 1966. And when we were going to return to democracy, instead of going back to what we were practicing before, parliamentary democracy, which was not expensive, it was this same Obasanjo who accepted the recommendation of the constitutional assembly at that time that recommended this American-style democracy.”
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