Chief Olu Falae, a former Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said on Wednesday that fear of probe was primarily responsible for why the military foisted former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Nigerians in 1999.
Falae, who said he won the presidential election, claimed that the military hierarchy who organised the election then preferred one of their own to win in order to protect their interests and shield them from investigations.
According to the result released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Obasanjo, who ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), defeated Olu Falae, who was the joint candidate of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Daily Independent in his Akure home, Falae said, from available records, he won the election with over 1.2 million votes as most of the votes allocated to Obasanjo were fictitious.
According to Falae, his then lawyer, the late Chief Godwin Olusegun Kolawole (GOK) Ajayi, SAN, was able to come up with overwhelming evidence that he defeated Obasanjo in the election.
He said: “First of all, all that is now history but facts are facts. I knew for a fact that I won that election and even Obasanjo himself knew that he didn’t win.
“I believed I won so I went to the tribunal and my lawyer, the late GOK Ajayi, produced overwhelming evidence to show that the votes assigned to Obasanjo were fake, exaggerated, and fictitious.
“For example, I still have here results that showed that in virtually every state in the North and in the East, Obasanjo scored more votes in many constituencies than the total number of registered voters in places where I too won some votes.
So, it is mathematically impossible for one out of two candidates to earn more votes than the total number of human beings registered and available to vote. When that is the case, you cancel the result of the election.
“If that had been done, I would have won the election by 1.2 million votes. That was what GOK Ajayi demonstrated in the court.”
Falae, who said he had overwhelming support across the country, also said a statement credited to David Mark, a former Senate President, that a sergeant in the army is better than a university graduate who is a civilian went a long way in influencing the decision of the military to rig Obasanjo in.
“The truth was that the military knew whom they were going to handover to”.
“Even though they preferred Obasanjo before the election, there was some hesitation on their part.
“From what I was able to put together by hindsight, there was some point when they thought they could hand over to me and that I won’t do them any harm.
“But having worked with them for five years, they had seen what I was capable of doing, they thought I had the competence, commitment, patriotism, and the broad-mindedness to preside over a country like Nigeria with a good outcome”.
But later, other opinions within the military differed from that.
“Later, one of them verbalised it openly in the newspapers by saying a sergeant in the army is better than a university graduate who is a civilian.
“He said only the military can govern Nigeria properly; no civilian is capable of leading the country.
“I think that opinion later prevailed. So, they went back to their former boss and they started manipulating the results even though the entire nation had voted for me massively.
“The day I went to Jos, it took my motorcade three and half hours to drive from the airport to the city of Jos.
“That is a journey that normally takes half an hour. The same happened in Kano and Kaduna where I was met with shouts of ‘no more soldiers’.
“Clearly, I won the election but the military wanted an ex-military man to hand over, believing that they were safer in his hands and that he will not probe them,” he said.