Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, claimed on Tuesday that corrupt governments were to blame for the recent coups d’état in a number of African nations.
According to Obasanjo, nepotism, favoritism, bad governance, and the “sit-tight syndrome” are the root causes of coup d’états in Africa.
Due to poor leadership and resource management, the military has taken control of the freely elected governments of Gabon and the Niger Republic over the past two months.
Obasanjo said that he hated military rule because he had been through a lot of trouble under the late military despot General Sanni Abacha when he was in jail for the 1995 phantom coup. However, he said that the bad leadership of African leaders was making the people look for liberators other than the government of the day, which is why there was such a big military coup.
The 86-year-old former President said this at an interactive session on public service and government held 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.
The former military head of state said, “If some of the things coming out of 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 ask if France has ever given these countries full independence.
“Second, we’re told that democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. But who are the people? And what do we get from this democracy?
“Once, I met a dozen or so boys and girls who had tried to cross the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean. I cried when they told me their story. What do you do when you see and hear things like that? Yes, I love democracy. After what I went through under Abacha, I will never love military rule, but what can we do if it has to come?
“However, we should ask ourselves: Do we have conditions on our continent that make these coups more likely?”
“Because if we don’t make the right conditions, it won’t happen, but that doesn’t mean we have to make those conditions.”
He was worried that young people backed the coups and asked, “Why are we letting young people start looking for liberators other than the government of the day?”
“I had five jobs when I finished high school. How many of you are about to finish college and already have five jobs lined up? If you’re lucky, you might get one or two. Think of a case where someone told you that jobs would be made, people would be hired, and wealth would be made. You would say, “Wow, that sounds interesting, but is it possible?” Let me be clear: I don’t back coups because I’ve been a victim of one.”