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I Rejected Offer To Bribe INEC – Obasanjo Reveals How The Election Was Lost

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, has recounted how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost a 1998 local government election in Ogun State as a result of his rejection of plots to bribe INEC officials.

According to, Obasanjo made this statement at a high-level consultation he hosted on “Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa” 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.

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During the discussion, he informed academics and politicians that he does not always feel comfortable using the term “Nigerian factor” when talking about democracy and other matters that affect development.


He claims to have first encountered the expression “Nigerian factor” during the country’s first local government election, which his party lost due to politicians’ alleged refusal to include the Nigerian element in their election preparations.

Obasanjo said, “When things go wrong, you said the Nigerian factor. The first thing I learnt 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.

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“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.

“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.”



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