For the past one month, the African continent has been in the news for the wrong reason according to one school of thought while another school of thought is of the view that it is for good reason. This is so in the sense that soldiers in Niger Republic carried out a military coup where it overthrew the democratically elected president and the national assembly.
While the people of Niger celebrate the new military government, an indication that they have seen hell on earth, a body known as Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) was busy planning a military invasion until the people of the sub-region warned of the consequences of declaring war on the new military government of Niger Republic. As at the time of writing, the leaders of ECOWAS appear to have been defeated by the masses of the sub-region without firing a bullet. While the burden of the military coup in the sub-region is still hunting the leadership, the continent woke up again to another reality in life and this time, a coup in Gabon, another Francophone country in the continent.
Briefly, the Republic of Gabon is a nation in West Central Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, the republic has only been ruled by two presidents, both autocratic; the incumbent, Omar Bongo, has been in power since 1967 and as of 2007 was Africa’s longest-serving head of state. In response to unrest, Bongo introduced a multi-party system and a new democratic constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions.
However, the government manipulated the process to remain in power. He died in 2009 after 42 years as president of the poor nation. Bongo is believed to have funnelled billions into bank accounts abroad. A commentator once said that Bongo had 70 bank accounts, 39 apartments, two Ferraris, six Mercedes Benz cars, three Porsches and a Bugatti in France, respectively. In 2009, his son, Ali Bongo took over as president of the country and has been there since then, meaning that the country have been governed by a father and son since independent from France. This is the greediness of some African leaders as can be seen. Having completed two tenures of seven years each, he conducted an election, which he manipulated in his favour thereby aiming for the third term and probably ruled the country for 60 years to go into the World Guinness Book.
Gabon like Nigeria but with less than three million populations has all the natural and human resources that can make life meaningful. As a nation that produces crude oil with other money yielding opportunities, the country has nothing to show for it in all these years of one family dominant. With all its vast resources, the country cannot boost of one standard higher institution not to talk of a world-class hospital. This is a country that its president and officials see France as the only place that they can attend their clinics, even if they want to urinate or cough.
Unemployment in Gabon is so high that one wonders if this is the country where oil and other mineral resources flow like an ocean. In the continent, the name of the country will not be among the list with affordable and cautious health centre for the poor because of the mismanagement of the economy with the connivance of France, the parasite that once colonized the nation. In all these misruled like any other African countries, the leaders of Africa Union and ECOWAS remained mute, colonization from the same people.
Now that the military have taken over power, its first mission was to cancel the fraudulent election which was about to declare the current president as the winner. All other institutions like the national assembly and board of government agencies were also sent packing by the military junta. Since its independence, France has been a locus invading the nation as if it is still under her control. There is no gainsaying the fact that while all the electoral manipulations were ongoing, the almighty France was on the sideline dictating the outcome and direction of the results to favour its candidates or nothing else. One uncontestable fact is that no one can win the nation election without France, and in this way it is possible to steal the resources of the country for years. Outside stealing her resources, France cannot boost of one quality school, hospital and other meaningful infrastructure including electricity for all the years it looted the poor country.
Gabon as a country has no single factory where it produces even pure water, courtesy of France, which imposed a policy of importing even toilet paper from there so that the nation’s resources can further be laid to rest the more. The security forces in Gabon are not one of the best in the world. France merely enlisted some men and women in the name of security but inwardly they are still in control of the forces. Among the personalities in Africa such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, academicians to mention but a few, there is no where one can find an indigene of Gabon because that is what France bequeathed to the nation and is still dominating the country till the military came onboard.
Although it is not my wish but now that the military has taken over the government from French imposters, there are certain things the new administration should not take for granted, and the first is the agreements signed with the Bongo family. The military should take time to look at the agreement if it really exists to know the content of the document because there is no way France can “terrorized” the resources of the nation without anyone and even the government asking questions.
The probability of the family being promised to keep the presidency while allowing France to loot her resources may be high hence the new government should do the needful. Also, the new government should revoke and domesticate or nationalize all company operations in the country where the government holds not less than 40 percent, 42 percent to France while the balance is held by the public.
Also, the leaders of the government should jettison ethnicity and religious calls but focus only on providing the much needed infrastructure for the people. There is nothing wrong if Gabon has stable electricity supply for 24 hours, refineries since it is an oil producing nation, ensure improved educational sector, standard hospitals and continue on manpower training to ensure the citizenry academically can measure up with their counterparts from other parts of the world.
On the agricultural line, the new leaders should invest heavily on agriculture so that the high rate of poverty can be reduced to the barest minimum. High quality roads linking the urban areas to rural areas and security of the nation and property should be given utmost attention, and in this way those who think that Gabon will not survive without France may have been put to shame.
Joseph Esivwenughwu is a chartered accountant, politician and analyst