Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has voiced a critical stance on the suitability of Western liberal democracy for Africa, particularly in Nigeria and other African nations. Speaking at a high-level consultation on Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa at the Green Resort Legacy, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, he argued that this form of governance has failed to deliver good governance and progressive development on the continent.
Obasanjo pointed out that Western democracy, as practised in Nigeria and other African countries, should be re-examined or moderated to better suit African peculiarities. He highlighted that the system was not homegrown and failed to consider African history and multicultural complexities. He described Western Liberal Democracy as a government “of a few people over all the people,” where the majority are often excluded.
The former president advocated for what he termed “Afro democracy,” a system of government more aligned with African traditions and practices. He stressed the need for African countries to define and design their system of governance, rather than continuing with a model that is not working for them. Obasanjo’s remarks come at a time when the effectiveness and relevance of Western-style democracy are being questioned, even in its countries of origin.
Olusegun Obasanjo’s critique of Western liberal democracy in Africa raises important questions about the compatibility of foreign governance models with African societies. His call for a re-examination of these models in favour of an “Afro democracy” reflects a growing sentiment across the continent for governance systems that are more attuned to local realities and histories.
The adoption of Western-style democracy in many African countries has often been a legacy of colonial rule, without sufficient adaptation to the continent’s diverse cultural and historical contexts. This has sometimes led to governance challenges, including the marginalization of majority voices and the failure to address local needs effectively.
The concept of “Afro democracy” proposed by Obasanjo suggests a governance model that is rooted in African traditions and values. Such a model could potentially offer a more inclusive and representative form of governance, one that is better suited to address the unique challenges and opportunities of African societies.
Did You Know?
- Diversity of Governance Models: There is a wide range of governance models globally, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
- Colonial Legacy: Many African countries’ current governance systems are a legacy of their colonial past.
- Cultural Context in Governance: The effectiveness of a governance model can be significantly influenced by the cultural context in which it is applied.
- Inclusivity in Democracy: True democracy involves the representation and inclusion of all societal groups.
- Adaptation of Political Systems: Adapting political systems to local contexts can lead to more effective and sustainable governance.