Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says ascension to political offices does not empower incumbents to destroy the policies and programmes of their predecessors.
He said while it does not matter the party a predecessor belonged to, new leaders should sustain the policies and projects of their predecessors in as much as the programmes are in the interest of the people.
Obasanjo spoke on Thursday at The International Conference On ‘Deepening Democratic Culture and Institutions for Sustainable Development and Security in Nigeria’ in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State.
The speech of Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s democratically elected President between 1999 and 2007, comes just a few weeks before the February 25 and March 11, 2023, general elections.
“In Nigeria, each new government behaves as if Nigeria is a newly found country,” he said during his speech titled, ‘Respecting The Principles Of Democracy’.
“In fact, during campaigns, some leaders sound as if they plan to reinvent Nigeria and create new Nigerians overnight. That is because they miss the aspect of democracy that emphasizes continuity, stability and predictability.
“One regime can lay the foundation but it requires many regimes to continue to build positively and constructively on the foundation.
“It is largely because we overlook and often disregard the basic principles of democracy. And somehow, we do not appreciate the damage that we do, individually and collectively, to the fabric of the nation.”
The former President said democracy is not a one-day wonder, noting that there must be continuity and predictability of policies despite changes in leadership.
‘Electoral Litigations Now Try Your Luck’
Obasanjo lamented that electoral litigations have now become a thing of luck because political actors don’t play by the rules.
“We fail to understand that democracy is not a one-shot game. It is evolutionary and it takes time to ground the practice. It is not for a quick change and indeed, if we play by the rules, we would all realise that regimes or governments can change but the tenets remain constant.
“We would not be so bitter with election results or overload the courts with litigations, very many of which are like ‘try your luck’.
“When we learn to play by the rules and respect the principles of democracy, we recognise that ascension to office does not empower incumbents to destroy all policies and programmes initiated by the predecessor,” he said.
Obasanjo warned without retracing the nation’s political steps in the right direction, the current process will either not produce the right leaders or it will leave so many broken blocks on the path to governance.
The result will be a democratic quagmire, increased corruption, insecurity, and survival of the fittest, richest, and better connected with little or no recognition of merits, he said.
Also in attendance at the event include Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike as well as former governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Peter Odili (Rivers).