Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Africa needs a form of “contextual democracy” that considers the past experiences of Africans and their heritage.

Obasanjo spoke in Abuja on Wednesday at a summit on the state of democracy in Africa.

The summit was organised by the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation in partnership with the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.

The former president, who was the keynote speaker at the summit, said democracy in Africa is breeding dictatorial tendencies and disregard for the interests of the majority.

Obasanjo argued that democracy is not a “static phenomenon,” noting that there is a need to rethink the system to reflect the historical and cultural realities of the continent.

He said Western liberal democracy cannot resolve the governance challenge on the continent.

“Africa’s past and current attempts at democratic governance prove that Western liberal democracy, lock, stock, and barrel, cannot resolve Africa’s governance challenge,” Obasanjo said.

“There is a great need to conceptualise a democracy that adapts to Africa’s historical, cultural, and current realities; a modality that works for African people.

“Perhaps the first step in achieving this is to prevent the privatisation or capturing of the state by our power elites.

“Yes, liberal democracy prescribes elections, but what difference does it make when the power elite rigs the electoral process through policies that make it impossible for the people to choose wisely even in a free and fair election?

“In Nigeria, as in many African countries, money has taken centre stage in elections such that even if elections are free and fair, voters will consider and choose candidates that guarantee their ‘stomach infrastructure’ over and above their more competent choices.”

The former president added that a form of democracy that places “more value on the electoral process than on the end product of the process” cannot be the only option for Africa.

“In all these, we must put our heads together, Africans and non-Africans alike, to devise a form of contextual democracy that will take account of our past experiences and the experiences of others to get a system that is sufficiently democratic, efficient, effective, make use of best within the community and society, leaving nobody out and that will deliver fast to all without exception.

“As we rethink the application of Western liberal democratic models to our continent, let us do so with humility, wisdom, and an unwavering commitment to the welfare of our people.

“We must learn from the successes and failures of others while crafting a uniquely African path to democracy that honours our rich heritage and meets the aspirations of our citizens.”

Obasanjo was elected president of Nigeria in 1999 after the country returned to democratic rule from the military regime.

In the last few months, Obasanjo has been calling for a rethink of the Western form of democracy, which is being practised in many African countries.