Coup Contagion: ‘I Will Just Say Okay Oh’ If Military Takes Over In Nigeria – Obasanjo

Coup Contagion: ‘I Will Just Say Okay Oh’ If Military Takes Over In Nigeria - Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military head of state and later democratically-elected president, has expressed pessimism over governance in Africa, including Nigeria, warning that several conditions make for a potential putsch in Africa’s most populous nation.

“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) on Tuesday.

Mr Obasanjo added, “But if it has to come, what can we do? I will just say okay oh,” suggesting a resignation to the country’s malaise. The former president is known for his firebrand castigation 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,” Mr 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.”

Mr 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,” Mr 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, Mr 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, Mr 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, excused by military regimes as an attempt to purge the country of widespread corruption, electoral fraud and violence, poverty, and insecurity. 

Mr Obasanjo was a beneficiary of the coup as Nigeria’s military ruler between 1976 and 1979. 

Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, with Mr Obasanjo emerging as the elected president. His administration was infamous for mobilising selected federal lawmakers to subvert the Nigerian Constitution that would see him enjoy a third term in office.

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