Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will say ok oh if a military coup happens in the populous West African nation
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, told youths attending a lecture he organised that he will simply shrug his shoulders if a coup should happen in the country due to the continuing malaise.
“Yes, I love democracy. Having suffered at the hands of Abacha (Nigeria’s late military dictator), I will not want a military rule,” the former Nigerian leader told a group of youths under the aegis of Africa for Africa Youth Initiative (A4A) at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).
“But if it has to come, what can we do? I will just say okay oh,” Obasanjo a former military head of state and later two term civilian president added, suggesting a resignation to the country’s depression.
The former president is known for his incendiary criticism of successive elected presidents, at least since the days of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
“But the point is this: do we have conditions that encourage the type of things that are happening? If we don’t have the conditions that encourage them, they may not happen,” Obasanjo explained. “That does not mean it should be encouraged. What it means is that we should make sure that we do everything to prevent coups from happening.”
Obasanjo’s statement came amid a wave of successful coups in the last three years in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sudan, and most recently the Niger Republic and Gabon.
The former president stressed that “youth are looking for liberators, and we must bear that in mind.”
“Why do we have to allow the youth to start looking for liberators beyond the government of the day? Why? When you see things that happen in many countries, and I will not exclude Nigeria,” Obasanjo pointed out, “then you wonder and don’t forget, don’t forget particularly the youth, they support most of these coups. The one in Gabon, the coup leader, was being carried on the head by the youths, not by old wretched men and women like me.”
Meanwhile, while addressing the UN General Assembly, President Bola Tinubu condemned the recent wave of coups in Africa, describing it as an “autocratic contagion” spreading across the region.
As ECOWAS chairman, Tinubu described the Niger coup as a threat to Nigeria and the West African region’s stability, mobilising the bloc to resolve the political crisis in Niger.
In his inaugural statement at the 78th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Tinubu said, “military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice. The wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems. Regarding Niger, we are negotiating with the military leaders.”
From 1966 to 1993, Nigeria experienced several coups, by military regimes whose rationale was an attempt to purge the country of widespread corruption, electoral fraud and violence, poverty, and insecurity.
Obasanjo was a beneficiary of the coup as Nigeria’s military ruler between 1976 and 1979. Coming to power after his boss General Muritala Mohammed was assassinated in a failed coup attempt in February, 1976.
Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, with Obasanjo emerging as the elected president and served two terms.
Akowe with reports from Lagos