Obasanjo: How PDP lost election because I rejected plans to bribe police, INEC

Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost the 1998 local government election in Ogun State, because he vehemently rejected plans to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police.

Obasanjo gave this disclosure while speaking at a high-level consultation organized on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa’, held on Monday, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.

The former president said he rejected the proposal on the belief that INEC officials and policemen are government workers earning salaries monthly.

He said he was not an advocate of the slang “Nigerian Factor”, hence, his refusal to subscribe to bribing the police and INEC officials to facilitate victory for his party then.

He said, “When things go wrong, you say the Nigerian factor. The first thing I learnt in politics was this thing called ‘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 the 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.”

He, however, insisted that the Western liberal democracy being practiced in Africa has not really taken human nature and the African situation into full account.

“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,” he submitted.


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