Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday advocated for a strong democratic culture in the country, adding that Nigerians must do well during next month’s elections.

He spoke at the 2023 Port Harcourt International Conference held at the Obi Wali International Conference in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

The theme of the conference was ‘Deepening Democratic Culture and Institutions for Sustainable Development and Security in Nigeria’.

Obasanjo, who delivered the keynote address, titled ‘Respect the principles of democracy’, noted that Nigeria’s democracy has gone through twists, dips and turns since after political independence.

He said that the best thing in the country’s history has been the maintenance of democracy since the military transfer of power to a democratically elected government in 1999.

Obasanjo, however, noted that there may be reason to doubt how many lessons leaders and supporters have drawn from the country’s past and how far they are willing to go to deepen, broaden and strengthen democracy and democratic practice.

The former president stated that the ways in which the political class has practiced democracy have deepened contradictions, negative coalitions, mistrust, disloyalty, and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies across the country.

What it means, he claimed, is that there are deep structural and philosophical problems that need to be addressed.

According to him, if the practice of democracy were superficial and opportunistic and designed to pursue a struggle for limited objectives, it would precipitate variants of fractured compromises that cannot address structural and philosophical contradictions and challenges.

Obasanjo declared: “In fact, the order of the day would be community against community, religion against religion, leader against leader.

“Ordinary citizens are then drawn into the personal or narrow ambitions of directionless, mindless and opportunistic leaders. The end result will be confusion, diffusion, distraction, and possibly lead to separation and disintegration.”

He stressed that democracy was possible in Nigeria and that people have the ability to build a culture of democratization.

Obasanjo, however, insisted that Nigerians must acknowledge and accept the fact that it was a principled evolutionary process.

He said: “If we do not retrace our political steps in the right direction, the current process will either not produce the right leaders or leave many broken blocks on the road to governance and will draw resources and energy away from rebuilding Nigeria and consolidating our practice. democratic.

“The result will be a democratic quagmire, increased corruption, insecurity, and survival of the fittest, wealthiest, and best-connected with little or no recognition of merit. The implications and cost of such a scenario for our present and future can best be imagined. I pray that God will grant us the wisdom to do what is right for our country and our people at all times and more so now.”