Reps meet Obasanjo, seek support for bill to reintroduce parliamentary government

 Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says members of the house of representatives seeking to reintroduce the parliamentary system of government through constitutional amendment should get the support of the critical masses.


The former president spoke in Abuja on Tuesday during a meeting with members of the house of representatives promoting the bill.


The meeting, which took place in Abuja, was part of a series of consultations to solicit support for the bill, which passed the first reading at the house of representatives in February.


Kingsley Chinda, the minority leader of the house of representatives, led the lawmakers to the meeting.


Nigeria currently practises a presidential system of government that allows a direct election of the president.


Under the parliamentary system, the legislature appoints a prime minister, with a less defined separation of powers.


Nigeria practised the parliamentary system of government from 1960 to 1963 during the first republic.


Speaking at the meeting, Obasanjo said the lawmakers should have a long-term plan and be tactical in advancing their position.


Obasanjo said while he agrees that there is a need for a shift in the system of government, it must be one that will work well for the country.


“You are preaching to the converted, but as I have said, take the word parliamentary away,” he said.


“We need to get the critical masses. Parliamentary and all that — once you start that, you have gotten it wrong. Once you do that, you are putting yourself in a fix because there are those who would say: We don’t want parliamentary.”




Obasanjo said African countries adopted the Western liberal democracy introduced by the Europeans, which he noted is not synchronised with the continent’s value system.


“Let me go back to the beginning, where we got it wrong — the Western liberal democracy, that is what the Europeans have,” he said.


“When you look at Western liberal democracy, it is a product of their history. A product of their culture. A product of their way of life.


“I have looked into most African languages; Western democracy has what they call loyal opposition. What is opposition in African languages?


“Enemy. Western democracies called oppositions ‘loyal’ because the oppositions are loyal to the monarchy. That’s where their loyal democracy began. They used to have monarchies.


 “There is nothing in liberal democracy that is African. We ruled ourselves before the advent of colonialism. We had empires and striving kingdoms. We did not rule ourselves as opposition.


“What is in it for us? I don’t know, but you can give it. For lack of an appropriate word, let us call it afro-democracy. That is where we have to begin.”


In his remarks, Chinda said the lawmakers used “parliamentary” due to a lack of an appropriate word.


The legislator said the system of government proposed by the lawmakers is “homegrown” and would suit the country.


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