The Presidency, in a recent statement, pointed fingers at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, attributing the current state of Nigeria’s democracy to his direct influence.
Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, highlighted Obasanjo’s pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s democracy. Onanuga referenced Obasanjo’s tenure as the country’s military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and his subsequent civilian presidency from 1999 to 2007, citing these periods as instrumental in establishing the country’s democratic framework.
Expressing criticism towards Obasanjo, Onanuga suggested that the former president had championed the adoption of the present democratic model in 1979, despite potential reservations about its efficacy during his eight-year presidency, where he even sought an extension for an additional four years.
The Presidency’s remarks emerged following Obasanjo’s recent comments made during the high-level consultation on Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta. Obasanjo had voiced discontent with Western democracy, citing its inability to foster good governance and development in Africa. He advocated for a reevaluation of democracy to align better with African nations’ historical and complex contexts.
Further underscoring the issue, Onanuga referenced Nigeria’s initial parliamentary democracy inherited from British colonial rule. He highlighted the shift to a different democratic model, attributing this transition to Obasanjo’s acceptance of the constitutional assembly’s recommendation for an American-style democracy following the military’s intervention in 1966.
The Presidency criticized Obasanjo’s implementation of the presidential system, highlighting a discrepancy between its form and the intended spirit. Additionally, they accused Obasanjo of attempts to modify the constitution during his tenure from 1999 to 2007.