Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has recounted how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to which he belonged in 1998, lost a local government election in Ogun State because of his refusal to endorse plans to bribe police and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel.
Speaking in Abeokuta on Monday during a high-level consultation on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa,’ Obasanjo shared that party leaders had suggested allocating funds for the police and INEC.
However, he rejected the proposal, citing his belief that these officials were government workers earning monthly salaries.
Obasanjo, addressing politicians and professors, expressed discomfort with the term “Nigerian factor” often used to explain challenges in democracy and development. He shared his experience from the 1998 local government election, where his party lost due to his refusal to embrace the alleged customary bribery practices.
The former President revealed, “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.”
Obasanjo emphasized that the subsequent State Assembly election saw him distancing himself, yet the result remained the same. He highlighted the impact of poverty on democracy, stating that hungry individuals may sell their votes for as little as N1000.
Critiquing the Western liberal democracy practiced in Africa, Obasanjo argued that it fails to fully consider human nature and the African context. He called for a realistic approach, noting that deliberate efforts to perpetuate poverty and lack of education pose significant challenges to democracy.
The Balogun of Owu concluded by underlining the need to address poverty and education issues to strengthen democracy in the African context.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate