Shift from Presidential system: Obasanjo backs Reps’ group, advocates Afro-democracy

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed support for the ongoing call for a shift from presidential democracy being currently practiced by Nigeria.

He, however, advised that it should be a system that address the local needs and also factor in the people’s culture, tradition and history.

Obasanjo spoke Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with the group of House of Representatives members championing the campaign.

He said the adopted western liberal democracy has failed to deliver, and even failing its originators, urging the lawmakers to adopt something like ‘Afro-Democracy’ as an alternative.

The former president also cautioned that the lawmakers should not be too hopeful in getting quick results for their ongoing efforts, as doing so will end up disappointing them.

He said: “We started on a faulty base. And what is a faulty base? Western liberal democracy. Our problem started from what we inherited from our colonial masters, so it is up to us to do what you are trying to do. Western liberal democracy brought in opposition, and what’s opposition? Enemy. There’s nothing in western liberal democracy that is African, nothing. 

“For a long time, we should have sat down and say yes. Even the people who we inherited it from, it is no longer serving them the purpose.”

The former president further stressed that what Nigerians were known for was “communalism”, where there was mutual relationship, and decisions made through consensus.

“That’s our life. That’s our way of life,” he submitted.

The former leader noted that if Nigeria had wondered away, and realised that it was a mistake in adopting western liberal democracy which has failed to deliver,  “nothing is wrong in coming back home like the prodigal son. It can be done. It should be done,” advising the group to adopt a name outside “parliamentary system” for something more afrocentric, to wade off undue opposition to their advocacy. 

To the group of lawmakers on the ongoing move, he said, “don’t expect results tomorrow. Don’t expect results tomorrow, if not, you’ll be disappointed”, assuring them that “I will join you…we’re in the same boat”.

 …Chinda on the group’s advocacy

Speaking earlier, leader of the group, and Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, argued that the presidential system of government as being practiced in Nigeria today “is so burdensome. It is so difficult for us to as a nation, make that move that we require with this heavy load on our shoulders, and so we are thinking on how to contribute our own quota to this nation. 

“We’ve listened to leaders like you that are actually role models. We are saying that a home-grown system of government that will be more accountable, a system that will make leaders more responsive and accountable to the people. Having studied this deep, we felt that something close to parliamentary, but a home-grown one, not the British parliamentary system but something that will emerge from within, to reduce the burden of government, to make it more responsible and accountable” was what they were canvassing.

 …National discourse for July

Also, spokesman of the group, Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki, while appreciating the former president for honouring their invitation, disclosed that a national dialogue on the subject matter is up for early July in the group’s bid to gather wider inputs, as well as an essay competition for Nigerian students both within and outside the country.

“Based on that, just a week ago, we put out an essay competition for all students that are in universities all across the globe, to participate in what they think is best for Nigeria. We tagged it home-grown parliamentary system, but with your advice today, I believe we are going to have a meeting to reconsider the proposal. 

“As we are moving, we are learning new things every day. As at today, I can tell you, we have almost 500 essays that have been written on that platform by persons interested in making Nigeria a better nation,” Dasuki disclosed.

He used the opportunity to appeal to Obasanjo to honour the National Discuss billed for July 1st, 2024.