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Obasanjo: Western liberal democracy not working in Africa — we need our own system

Obasanjo: Western liberal democracy not working in Africa — we need our own system
November 20
17:12 2023

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says African countries must discard the liberal democracy introduced to the continent by the Western countries.

Obasanjo said Africa should practise a form of democracy he described as “Afro democracy”.

The former president spoke on Monday during a two-day event organised by the Africa Progress Group, which took place at the Olusegun Obasanjo presidential library, Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.

Obasanjo said liberal democracy allows a government by a few people over a large population of people.


The former president said the majority of people are kept out of the government under liberal democracy.

“These few people are representatives of only some of the people and not full representatives of all the people,” Obasanjo said.

“Invariably, the majority of the people were wittingly or unwittingly kept out. This is why we should have ‘Afro democracy’ in place of Western liberal democracy.


“The weakness and failure of liberal democracy as it is practised stem from its history, content, context and its 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 former president said Africa must question the performance of democracy in the West and on the continent of Africa.

Obasanjo added that the continent must look inward and outward to understand how another form of government can be adopted.

“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?” he asked.


“Something that we can adopt and adapt for a changed system of government that will service our purpose better and deliver.

“We have to think out of the box and after, 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.”

This is not the first time the former president would talk about liberal democracy not working in Africa.


In an exclusive interview with TheCable in September, Obasanjo said “The liberal democracy we are copying from settled societies in the West won’t work for us”.

Obasanjo was elected as Nigeria’s civilian president in 1999 after the country returned to democratic rule.


The former president was military head of state from 1976 to 1979.

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