Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has recounted how he and his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, lost an Ogun State local government election in 1998 as a result of his disapproval of plans to bribe the police and INEC staff.
Obasanjo claimed that party leaders had advised him that funding for the police and INEC should be set aside. He rejected the idea, citing his conviction that police officers and INEC officials are employed by the government and should receive monthly salaries.
At a high-level consultation he organized on "Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa," the former president gave a speech on Monday in Abeokuta.
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.