How we lost election in Nigeria for not bribing INEC, Police – Obasanjo reveals


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo revealed how his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, lost a local government election in Ogun State in 1998 because he refused to participate in bribery schemes involving the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Obasanjo explained that party leaders had suggested allocating funds for the police and INEC, but he rejected the idea, citing his belief that these officials were government employees who received regular salaries.

Speaking at a high-level consultation event he organized called ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa’ in Abeokuta, the former President expressed his discomfort with the phrase ‘Nigerian factor’ when discussing democracy and other development-related matters.

He recalled encountering the term ‘Nigerian factor’ during the country’s first local government election, where he chose not to engage in corrupt practices.

“When things go wrong, you said the Nigerian factor. The first thing I learnt in politics was this thing I called 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 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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