How we lost 1998 Election for not bribing INEC, Police – Obasanjo



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lost a local government election in Ogun State back in 1998 because he refused to endorse plans to bribe the police and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel.

Speaking at a high-level consultation in Abeokuta on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa,’ on Monday, November 20, Obasanjo said that party leaders suggested allocating funds for the police and INEC. However, he rejected the proposal, citing his belief that these officials were already government employees receiving monthly salaries.

Recounting the incident, Obasanjo highlighted the impact of what he termed the ‘Nigerian factor’ on elections. He explained that during the first local government election, his party suffered defeat because he refused to embrace the so-called ‘Nigerian factor’ in planning.

“When things go wrong, you said the Nigerian factor. The first thing I learnt 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 recounted.

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