Western-style democracy not suitable for Africa — Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday that Western liberal democracy is unsuitable for Africa and seems not to be working for Nigeria and other African countries.

According to the former president, western democracy as it is being practiced in Nigeria and other African countries, should be re-examined or moderated.

He stated that this is because it has not delivered on good governance and progressive development for the continent.

Obasanjo spoke at the high-level consultation on Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa held at the Green Resort Legacy, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.

Obasanjo said that the time has come to be brutal with the truth and face the reality that Western democracy is not delivering on expectations and should therefore be tinkered with in such a way that it will be able to take care of our peculiarities as Africans.

The former president said that the snag with liberal democracy lies in the fact that it wasn’t homegrown and never took into account African history and multicultural complexities, among other peculiarities.

He further explained that the Western style of democracy failed in Africa because it did not take into account the views of the majority of the people.

He described Western Liberal Democracy as a “government of a few people over all the people or population, and these few people are representatives of only some of the people and not full representatives of all the people. Invariably, the majority of the people are wittingly or unwittingly kept out.”

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He advocated for what he termed “Afro democracy” in place of Western liberal democracy.

According to him, African countries have no business operating a system of government in which they have no hands in its “definition and design.

Obasanjo said, “The weakness and failure of liberal democracy as it is practised stem from its history, content, context, and practice.

“Once you move from all the people to representatives of the people, you start to encounter troubles and problems. For those who define it as the rule of the majority, should the minority be ignored, neglected, and excluded?

“In short, we have a system of government in which we have no hands to define and design, and we continue with it even when we know that it is not working for us.

“Those who brought it to us are now questioning the rightness of their invention, its deliverability, and its relevance today without reform.

“The essence of any system of government is the welfare and well-being of the people—all the people.

“Here, we must interrogate the performance of democracy in the West when it originated from and with us, the inheritors of what we are left with by our colonial powers.

“We are here to stop being foolish and stupid. Can we look inward and outward to see what in our country, culture, tradition, practice, and living over the years that we can learn from, adopt, and adapt with practices everywhere for a changed system of government that will service our purpose better and deliver?

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“We have to think outside the box and then act with our new thinking. You are invited here to examine clinically the practice of liberal democracy, identify its shortcomings for our society, and bring forth ideas and recommendations that can serve our purpose better, knowing human beings for what we are and going by our experiences and the experiences of others.

“We are here to think as leaders of thought in academia and leaders of thought with some experience in politics.”

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