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How we lost election for not bribing INEC, police – Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has recalled how a
political party, the Peoples Democratic Party he belonged to in 1998 lost a
local government election in Ogun State because he rejected plans to bribe the
police and personnel of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


Obasanjo said party leaders had told him that there should
be money allocated for the police and INEC, saying he rejected the proposal on
the belief that INEC officials and policemen are government workers earning
salaries monthly.


The former President spoke in Abeokuta on Monday at a
high-level consultation he organised on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy
in Africa’.


The African leader had told politicians and professors at
the debate that he is not always comfortable with the phrase, ‘Nigerian
factor’, when discussing democracy and other issues affecting development.


According to him, he came across the ‘Nigerian factor’ slang
when the nation held the first local government election and his party lost
because politicians said be refused to take cognisance of the Nigerian factor
while planning for the election.


“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.


The octogenarian emphasised that the Western liberal democracy
being practised in Africa has not really taken human nature and the African
situation into full account.


While saying it is time to be realistic, the Balogun of Owu
said a hungry person will sell his vote for just 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,” he stated.


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