Former President Olusegun Obasanjo stated on Tuesday that bad governance lies at the heart of the recent wave of coups d’état sweeping through some African nations.
According to The PUNCH, he argued that the practice of democracy without integrity, coupled with bad governance, nepotism, and favoritism, along with leaders clinging to power, is fueling the rise of coups in Africa.
Over the past two months, the military has seized power from democratically elected governments in Gabon and Niger Republic, citing poor leadership and mismanagement of the countries’ resources as reasons for their intervention.
Obasanjo, while expressing his aversion to military rule based on his own experiences, including his imprisonment during General Sanni Abacha’s regime following the 1995 phantom coup, acknowledged that the poor governance of African leaders is prompting citizens to seek alternative liberators beyond the existing government, hence the surge in military coups.
This was revealed by the 86-year-old former President during an interactive session on public service and governance at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library with members of the Africa for Africa Youth Initiative from Botswana, Benin, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Speaking on how to stem the tide of incessant coups and ensure political stability on the continent, the former military Head of State said, “If some of the things coming out from these former French colonial countries are true like the Malians saying they don’t want to have anything to do with France again, one might really be asking if France has ever granted these countries full independence.
“Secondly, we are told that democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people, but you may ask which people? And what does this democracy deliver?
“On one occasion, I got about a dozen or two boys and girls who have attempted to go across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean. When they told me their story, I wept. When you see and hear that kind of thing, what do you do? Yes, I love democracy, having suffered in the hands of Abacha, I will never love military rule; but if it has to come, what can we do?
“However, we should ask ourselves this question: Do we have conditions that are encouraging these coups on our continent?
“Because if we don’t have the conditions that encourage them, it will not happen, though this does not mean that we must encourage them.”
He voiced concern that youths were supporting coups, asking, “Why are we allowing the youths to begin the search for liberators beyond the government of the day?”
“When I left secondary school, I got five jobs. How many of you will finish university now and have five jobs waiting? You will be lucky to have even one or two. Think of a situation where somebody said there will be job creation, there will be employment, there will be wealth creation, you will say wow, this sounds interesting, but can it be done? Let me make it clear that I don’t support coups because personally, I have been a victim.”