- The former President addressed a high-level consultation on ‘Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa’ in Abeokuta.
- The octogenarian emphasised that the Western liberal democracy being practised in Africa has not really taken human nature and the African situation into full account.
In 1998, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State lost a local government election due to the rejection of attempts by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
At a high-level consultation he convened on “Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy in Africa,” he gave a speech 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.
He disclosed to the politicians and academics present at the debate that he does not always feel comfortable using the term “Nigerian factor” when talking about democracy and other matters that have an impact on development.
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.
Obasanjo said: “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.”
While saying it is time to be realistic, the former President also known as the Balogun of Owu, said a hungry will sell his vote for just N1000.
“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,” Obasanjo said.