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Obasanjo calls for further dialogue on parliamentary system

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for further dialogue regarding a proposal by 60 members of the House of Representatives advocating for a transition from Nigeria’s current presidential system to a home-grown parliamentary system.

Speaking on Tuesday in an interactive session with the group in Abuja, Obasanjo said the move by the lawmakers is laudable and worth encouraging as long as it leads to his call for a more afro-centric democracy in Nigeria.

The meeting, chaired by the group’s leader and Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda, included 17 other members. Notable attendees included Abdussamad Dasuki, Olawale Raji, Kabir Ibrahim Tukura, Abdullahi El-Rasheed, Umar Yusuf Yabo, Abdulmaleek Danga, Esosa Iyawe, Aliyu Aminu Garu, Shehu Dalhatu, Ibe Okwara Osonwa, Muhammed Bello Shehu, Gwacham Maureen, Joshua Audu Gana, Blessing Amadi, Engr M.B Jajere, Afam Victor Ogene, and Kwamoti Laori.

Chinda, along with 59 other members of the House, has sponsored a bill seeking amendments to the 1999 Constitution to shift from the presidential system to a parliamentary system of government.

Obasanjo commended the lawmakers for their initiative, criticising the western liberal democracy inherited from the British as a faulty foundation that has failed Nigeria. He emphasized the need for an Afro-centric and home-grown system of government that aligns with the country’s cultures, values, and traditions.

“Let me go back to the beginning, where we got it wrong: the western liberal democracy. When you look at their western liberal democracy, it is a product of their history, their culture, and their way of life. There is nothing in the liberal democracy that is African, nothing,” Obasanjo stated.

He argued that pre-colonial African governance systems thrived without opposition, functioning through consensus, and suggested that the inherited system from colonial masters was not suitable for Nigeria.

“Our problem started with what we inherited from our colonial masters, but we cannot blame them because they gave us what they had. They couldn’t have given us what they did not have. It is up to us to do what you are now trying to do,” he added.

Obasanjo urged for a collective effort to develop an African-centric democratic system. “Let us put our heads together and look for something African. You can call it afrodemocracy or anything, but democracy must be there. If we are able to get that, we will get it right. Let’s talk more about it; let’s debate and let’s dialogue,” he concluded.

During the session, Kingsley Chinda highlighted the inefficiencies of the current presidential system, describing it as burdensome and expensive. He stressed the need for a more responsive, responsible, and accountable system of governance.

“One of the problems we face today is the cost of governance; how do we reduce it? Even with constitutional provisions, there are things that are morally wrong but legal under this presidential system,” Chinda remarked.

He advocated for a home-grown parliamentary system that is distinct from the British model but tailored to Nigeria’s needs, aiming to make public officeholders more responsive and accountable.

Abdussamad Dasuki, another group member, announced plans for a national dialogue on July 1, intended to gather more input from Nigerians and other stakeholders on the proposed transition to a new system of government.

 

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Ola Imole
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