Following Wednesday’s coup in Gabon, Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed concern that a contagion of autocracy was spreading across Africa.
He said he was working very closely with other Heads of State in the African Union towards a comprehensive consensus response after the coup in Gabon.
The coup came amid the ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis in Niger Republic following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the country’s military.
The Gabonese coupists annulled Saturday’s election, which Bongo was declared to have won.
The soldiers announced the dissolution of all the institutions in Gabon and shut the country’s borders, saying their actions were on behalf of the central African nation’s security and defence forces.
Noureddin Bongo Valentin, one of the sons of Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, was also arrested for “treason”.
The ousted president was placed under house arrest alongside some of his family members.
“President Ali Bongo is under house arrest, surrounded by his family and doctors,” they said in a statement read out on state TV.
A military leader said those arrested were accused of treason, embezzlement, corruption and falsifying the president’s signature, among other allegations.
Bongo, in a video, begged his international friends to make noise about his ouster.
“My name is Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon. I am sending a message to all friends that we have all over the world to tell them to make noise, to make noise,” Bongo said.
Tinubu’s spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, told reporters in Abuja yesterday that the president was watching closely with deep concern for Gabon’s socio-political stability and the autocratic contagion spreading across different regions of Africa.
He said Tinubu said the rule of law and a faithful recourse to the constitutional resolutions and instruments of electoral dispute resolution must not be allowed to perish from the continent.
Ngelale said: “President Bola Tinubu is watching developments in Gabon very closely with deep concern for the country’s socio-political stability and at the seeming autocratic contagion apparently spreading across different regions of our beloved continent.
“The president, as a man who has made significant personal sacrifices in his own life in the course of advancing and defending democracy, is of the unwavering belief that power belongs in the hands of Africa’s great people and not in the barrel of a loaded gun.
“The president affirms that the rule of law and a faithful recourse to the constitutional resolutions and instruments of electoral dispute resolution must not at any time be allowed to perish from our great continent.
“To this end, the president is working very closely and continuing to communicate with other Heads of State in the African Union towards a comprehensive consensus on the next steps forward with respect to how the crisis in Gabon will play out and how the continent will respond to the contagion of autocracy we are seeing spread across our continent.”
Don’t emulate Gabonese army, MURIC warns Nigerian military
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) yesterday advised the Nigerian military not to emulate the Gabonese Army that sacked President Bongo.
MURIC’s Executive Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement, noted that the Nigerian Army’s hands were already full with engagements with Boko Haram, insurgents and other security threats and thus could not afford to add political intervention to its challenges.
He said while the army should not bite more than it could swallow, Nigerian rulers should borrow a leaf from what had happened in Gabon, Niger, Mali and others as good governance had become mandatory on leaders who, he said, must alleviate poverty, hunger and disease from the land.
He said: “While we frown upon the sit-tight syndrome adopted by the Bongo family in Gabon and some African countries, we strongly condemn this military coup. MURIC advises the Nigerian Army to remain apolitical and to resist the temptation to emulate the Gabonese army by staging any coup in Nigeria.
“Any Nigerian soldier who contemplates coup in the present dispensation is doing so for selfish reasons. It is noteworthy that the Nigerian political firmament is absolutely different from that of Gabon where the Bongo dynasty has been in power for more than 50 years.
“A military coup against the current Muslim-Muslim ticket will be interpreted as a direct attack on Muslims in the country in view of the deep religious sentiments, which pervaded the controversy surrounding the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Any military coup in Nigeria now will carry a religious taint. Nigeria has not recovered from the one-sided anti-North coup of 15th January, 1966 staged by Igbo soldiers and the vengeful counter-coup of July 1966 staged mainly by soldiers of Northern extraction,” Akintola said.
Gabon coup deeply concerning – Commonwealth
The Commonwealth has expressed concern over the coup in Gabon.
Its Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said: “The Commonwealth Charter is clear that member states must uphold the rule of law and the principles of democracy at all times.”
Bongo, who came to power after his father’s death in 2009, won a third term in Saturday’s election, which the opposition argued was heavily disputed.
Gabonese celebrate fall of Bongo’s 53-year dynasty
Hundreds of Gabon’s citizens yesterday flooded the capital, Libreville, to celebrate the coup and the end of Bongo’s 53-year dynasty in the country.
According to Al Jazeera, immediately after the end of Bongo’s rule was announced, crowds took to the streets in jubilation including a shopkeeper, Viviane Mbou, who offered the soldiers juice, which they declined.
“Long live our army,” said Jordy Dikaba, a young man walking with his friends on a street lined with police.
“I am marching today because I am joyful. After almost 60 years, the Bongos are out of power,” says Jules Lebigui, an unemployed 27-year-old who joined the celebrations on Libreville’s streets.”
The soldiers, who appeared on Gabonese national television to declare they had taken power and annulled the election, explained that they struck because of irresponsible and unpredictable governance in the country.
AFP quoted the coupists’ leader thus: “Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace. Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis. We are therefore forced to admit that the organisation of the general elections of 26 August 2023 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.
“Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos. Today, 30 August 2023, we — the defence and security forces, gathered as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on behalf of the people of Gabon and as guarantors of the institutions’ protection — have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime. The borders are closed until further notice.
“All the institutions of the Republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the Gabonese Elections Centre.
“We call for calm and serenity from the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora. “We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community. People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness. May God and the spirits of our ancestors bless Gabon. Honour and loyalty to our homeland.”