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Why Western Style Democracy Has Failed In Nigeria – Ex-Minister Replies Obasanjo

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Why Western Style Democracy Has Failed In Nigeria - Ex-Minister Replies Obasanjo

Former Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, has disagreed with former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Western democracy is responsible for Nigeria’s leadership crisis.

Recall that Obasanjo had said that Western liberal democracy had not been an effective system of government in Africa because it was forced on the continent.

The former president, who spoke recently at an event in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, advocated “Afro democracy” in place of Western liberal democracy.

But in response to the former president, Essien said the seeming failure of Western democracy in the country is because it is not practised according to the rules by the political class.

The former minister said the country introduced its version of democracy with unending modifications to bring every institution under the control of the President.

Speaking on Sunday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom capital, Essien said what the country has practised since 1999 is not the modified form of the presidential system of Western democracy.

He said: “Let me start by saying that this was an interesting assessment by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but he took it out of context with realities on the ground. Western-style democracy has not failed in Nigeria because we have not practised it according to the rules.

“We inherited the parliamentary system from the Colonial masters, and that is a system of democratic government where the head of government drives their democratic legitimacy from the ability to command the support of the legislature.

“This worked up to the independence supervised by the colonial masters. By 1966, the military said it was marred by corruption so they discarded it. But by 1979, we adopted the Presidential system. That also worked for four years until the military struck again under the excuse of petty corruption.

“By 1999, we resumed with the Presidential system, which of course, involves rigid adherence to the separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. So, in 1999, the system was delivered safely.

“But the operators of the system decided to modify the separation and put all organs of government under the control of the executive, calling it ‘Guided Democracy’. The executive embarked on deciding the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House and the leadership of the National Assembly.

“So we reached a stage where the executive decided to take full control of the National Assembly, selecting the leadership of the Assembly. Thereafter, they went on to choose and remove the leadership of the parties under the whims and caprices of the President.

“Then next, the judiciary fell into the hands of the executive. Then, the electoral process fell into the hands of the executive. So what we have practised since 1999 is not the presidential system of Western democracy, but a modified form, which I would agree with Obasanjo is the Afro Democracy.

“Let us not blame the Western democracy; let us blame ourselves for introducing our own version of democracy with unending modifications to bring every institution under the control of the head of government to ensure the next election is won. So let us find some other excuse for not doing well and not be blaming Western democracy.”