Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says the rising military coups in the African continent showed that the youths are in search of liberators.
However, Obasanjo quickly added that he would not support a coup considering his experience in the hands of a former military dictator, late General Sani Abacha.
He spoke at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during an interactive session with a group of youths from Africa for African Youth Initiative (A4A), a platform founded by Reverend Chris Oyakhilome.
The public service and good governance engagement was titled “Fostering Sustainable Development Through Pan Africanism.”
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Responding to questions on the coups in Africa, Obasanjo, who has ruled Nigeria both as a military and democratically elected leader, said certain conditions had been encouraging the military takeovers across the continent.
Since 2020, Africa has experienced coups in seven countries with the most recent one in Gabon in August.
There was a rumoured military coup in the Republic of the Congo on Sunday, but it was refuted by the Congolese government.
Obasanjo said, “Having suffered in the hand of (General Sani) Abacha, I won’t support a military coup. But if it has to come, what can we do? The point is this; do we have conditions that encourage the type of things that are happening? Because if we don’t have the conditions that encourage them, they may not happen. That doesn’t mean it should be encouraged. What it means is that we should make sure that we do everything to prevent coups from happening.
“When you see things that happen in many countries, and I will not exclude Nigeria, then you wonder and don’t forget, particularly the youths; they support most of these coups. For 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.
“So, the youths 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?”
Obasanjo called for the entrenchment of true democratic principles with God-given attributes as a way of discouraging coups in the continent.
He called on the African youths to brace up and take leadership positions today and not tomorrow, which may never come.
The Executive Director of A4A, Pastor Henry Akasili, said the organisation had a duty to inspire the youths to drive sustainable development in Africa.
He said, “We believe in action, we believe in seeing that sustainable change in the African continent and that is why we have come from 7 African countries, and to go back and influence those who need to be influenced to the same message to another level.”