Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Wednesday said elections must reflect the will of the people for the citizens to reap the dividends of democracy in Africa.
Obasanjo spoke in Abuja at a book launch which he co-authored, with a title: “Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage” sponsored by Brenthrust Foundation. Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst and Tendai Biti are co-authors of the book.
The former president, who noted that democratic practice varies from one country to another, said democracy in Africa would be promoted if elections are free, fair and credible.
According to him, the United Kingdom’s democratic practice differs from the United States’ system.
“So, what can we do to enhance democracy in Africa? Election particularly, which is a democratic practice of every country, must be carried out in such a way that it reflects the will of the people,” he said.
He said election should be seen in a way that it gives the voice to the voiceless.
He said the 266-page book was written in order to advance the course of Africa and to ensure its development.
“The book focuses on areas of development that need attention for African growth and development.
“We look at agricultural business, tourism, mining, hospitality, industrialisation and manufacturing.
“We look at what to do to give every living human being in Africa an improvement in his living condition,” he said.
Obasanjo, who noted that in the next 30 years, the population of Nigeria would have doubled to about 400 million, said this might be a sign of good or bad omen.
“That is good and bad. Good, if we are able to educate; good, if we are able to empower and good if we are able to create employment for that teaming population.
“But bad if we cannot meet the needs of the population; we will be in trouble if we cannot be able to meet the needs of the population,” he said.
He therefore stressed the need to ensure good governance in the Nigerian polity. According to the former president, this then boils down to governance.
“So, the issue of governance must be addressed. And that is why we wrote this book; Democracy Works,” he said.
Speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, Brenthrust Foundation, Greg Mills, said Africa had undergone several transition overtime.
According to him, if democracy is better equipped, it provides checks and balances, it provides oxygen for the civil society organisations, etc.
“Democrats have to work very hard to win election. Democracy does not come cheap. These are the arguments we made in the book,” he said.
Mills, who said the book contained no fewer than 300 interviews conducted across the world, said it was time African countries refrained from the culture of business-as-usual.