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'You Accepted American-style Democracy Rather Than Returning Nigeria To Parliamentary System', Presidency Tells Obasanjo

The Presidency has faulted former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Monday comment in which he said ‘Western liberal democracy not suited for African nations,’ as it had not delivered good governance and development in Africa.

The Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, expressed the reaction on Tuesday via statement.

Peoples Gazette had reported that Obasanjo, who made the comment in an address in Abeokuta at a high-level consultation on “Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy For Africa,’ noted that the western style of democracy did not consider the majority of the people.

Describing the system as a “government of a few people over all the people or population,” Obasanjo proposed an “Afro democracy” tailored to the continent’s unique needs, as well as a re-examination and moderation of democracy to better suit African nations, citing the Western model’s disregard for African history and complexities.

Mr Onanugua in his reaction blamed Obasanjo for the current state of Nigeria’s democracy, noting that the democracy the country currently practises dates back to direct inputs by him when he first led the country as military Head of State from 1976 to 1979, and then, as civilian President from 1999 to 2007.

Mr Onanuga said, “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.”

He also blamed Obasanjo for wrongly copying the model during his tenure as head of state and, later, President, while criticising the former leader for not advocating a better system despite his current views.

“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.

“We were practising 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 practising before, parliamentary democracy, which was not expensive, it was this same Obasanjo who accepted the recommendation of the constitutional assembly at the time that recommended this American-style democracy.

“Obasanjo also knew that he copied this presidential system very wrongly. He copied the form and structure, but he didn’t copy the spirit of it. Something that should have been under him in 1999 to 2007. He even made attempts to modify the constitution,” Mr Onanuga said.

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