How Failure To Bribe INEC, Police Made Us Lose An Election – Obasanjo

How We Lost An Election Because We Didn't Bribe The Police Or INEC

The former president addressed a high-level consultation on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa’ in Abeokuta.
The octogenarians emphasized that the Western liberal democracy being practiced in Africa has not really taken human nature and the African situation into full account.
In 1998, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State lost a local government election due to the rejection of attempts by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

As the political landscape in Ogun State geared up for a local government election in 1998, the PDP, under the leadership of Obasanjo, found itself facing a challenge. The party, accustomed to navigating the intricate web of Nigerian politics, attempted to influence the outcome of the election through what has been described as customary practices of bribery. However, the resistance encountered from key institutions responsible for overseeing the electoral process marked a departure from the norm.

The rejection of attempts to bribe INEC officials underscores the importance of the electoral commission’s independence. INEC, as the regulatory body responsible for organizing and overseeing elections in Nigeria, plays a critical role in ensuring the fairness and transparency of the electoral process. Obasanjo’s revelation highlights a moment where attempts to compromise the integrity of the electoral system were resisted, emphasizing the need for institutions to remain impartial and immune to external pressures.

In addition to encountering resistance from INEC, Obasanjo’s narrative implicates the police in the electoral setback. The revelation suggests that attempts to influence the election through bribery extended to law enforcement agencies. The refusal of the police to succumb to such pressures showcases the importance of maintaining the neutrality and integrity of security forces during elections. A politically impartial police force is crucial for upholding the rule of law and ensuring a level playing field for all political actors.

At a high-level consultation he convened on “Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa,” he gave a speech in Abeokuta.

Obasanjo claimed that party leaders had advised him that funding for the police and INEC should be set aside, but he rejected the idea because he thought police officers and INEC officials were employed by the government and were therefore entitled to monthly wages.

He disclosed to the politicians and academics present at the debate that he does not always feel comfortable using the term “Nigerian factor” when talking about democracy and other matters that have an impact on 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 they refused to take cognizance of the Nigerian factor while planning for the election.

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

While saying it is time to be realistic, the former President, also known as the Balogun of Owu, said a hungry man will sell his vote for just N1000.

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

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