• News - South West - Ogun
  • Updated: November 21, 2023

Obasanjo recounts how his party lost election after refusing to bribe INEC, police

Obasanjo recounts how his party lost election after refusing

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo recounted how he and his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, lost an Ogun State local government election in 1998 as a result of his rejection of attempts to bribe the police and INEC staff.

Obasanjo said that party leaders had advised him that funding for the police and INEC should be set aside. He rejected the idea, citing his conviction that police officers and INEC personnel are employed by the government and should get monthly pay.

The former President addressed a high-level consultation on 'Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa' in Abeokuta on Monday.

During the debate, the African leader informed politicians and scholars that he is not always comfortable using the phrase "Nigerian factor" when addressing democracy and other development challenges.

According to him, he came across the 'Nigerian factor' slang when the country had its first local government election, which his party lost because the politicians stated they failed to consider the Nigerian factor while arranging the poll. 

“When things go wrong, you said the Nigerian factor. The first thing I learned in politics was this thing called the Nigerian factor.

“In 1998, we had the first local government election. We had parties, and here in Abeokuta, we met in my office and they came up and said, ‘Look, this is money for INEC, money for police.’ At a stage, I said, ‘What nonsense! Is the police not being paid, and INEC too?’

“They said ‘that’s how we do it. I said ‘You cannot do that.’ So, they didn’t do that. And of course, we lost all the local governments. We lost all. And then they came to me and said, ‘Baba, you see? If you had allowed us to do it the way we used to do it, we would have won. And I felt guilty.

“During the next election, which was the State Assembly, I just stayed in my house. I said ‘Well, do whatever you want to do, I will not be part of it’. So, I didn’t even go. But, the result was the same. One of the people who got money didn’t even distribute it to where he was supposed to distribute it,” Obasanjo narrated.

The octogenarian emphasized that the Western liberal democracy practised in Africa has not fully accounted for human nature and African circumstances.

The Balogun of Owu stated that it was time to be practical, claiming that a hungry guy would sell his vote for N1000.

“When you are hungry, whatever anybody tells you cannot go in. Poverty is a great enemy of democracy. Ignorance or lack of education is a great enemy of democracy. And we seem to be deliberately fomenting poverty and lack of education,” Obasanjo stated. 

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