Obasanjo, the former President, shared a revealing account of how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost a local government election in Ogun State during 1998. He unveiled that the defeat stemmed from his refusal to support plans to bribe both the police and personnel of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
At a high-level consultation in Abeokuta themed ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa’ on Monday, November 20, Obasanjo shed light on the situation. He recounted the suggestion from party leaders to allocate funds for the police and INEC, which he staunchly opposed. Obasanjo emphasized his belief that these officials were already salaried government employees, rejecting the notion of providing extra financial incentives.
Reflecting on the incident, Obasanjo highlighted the influence of what he referred to as the ‘Nigerian factor’ in elections. He emphasized that during the initial local government election, the party encountered a defeat due to his refusal to conform to this ‘Nigerian factor’ in planning campaign strategies.
“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?’”
He continued by narrating how their loss led party members to remark that they could have won if they had followed the traditional approach. Obasanjo then described his subsequent withdrawal from involvement in the State Assembly election, distancing himself from the proceedings.