GABON- Ali Bongo Odimba, the son of late Omar Bongo, who is the current President of Gabon has been linked to Biafra for quite some time now. In many qurters, many believed he was one of the Biafra Children who were airlifted from Ohafia in eastern Nigeria to Gabon during the genocidal civil war that claimed many lives especially women and children due to massive blockade of all routes through which imported goods comes into Biafra.
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, who survived a coup attempt on Monday, January 7, 2019, has continued to be linked to Biafra, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
“Even his birth was controversial. Rumours, which he has always denied, have persisted for years that he was adopted from the Nigerian south-east at the time of the Biafran war,” BBC reported on late on Monday in a story entitled “Who is Ali Bongo, president of Gabon?”
It described Ali Bongo as “a man of many faces”, saying: “To some, he is a spoilt, playboy prince who sees ruling the oil-rich Gabon as his birthright; a one-time funk singer who stepped into his father’s shoes to continue his family’s 50-year rule.
“To others, he is a reformer – a man who, they would argue, was voted into power democratically by the masses.”
BBC noted that Ali Bongo’s “recent ill health has pushed tensions to the surface in this country of just more than two million people”, culminating in the January incident when a group of Gabonese soldiers tried but failed to take over power.
“Among their stated reasons was an attempt to ‘restore democracy’ following the 2016 election, which Mr Bongo narrowly won amid accusations of fraud and acts of violence.”
The report noted that the 60 years old Ali Bongo has always being considered “Gabon’s outsider” due to his birth and upbringing.
Born Alain Bernard Bongo in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville in February 1959, the young Alain Bernard was still in primary school when his father Omar Bongo took control of Gabon in 1967.
“Alain Bernard became Ali and his father Omar in 1973, after converting to Islam – the only members of their family to do so,” the report said.
A former Funk music star, “Ali Bongo served in his father’s government as Minister of Defence, a role he held for 10 years. Before that his first appointment, as Gabon’s Foreign Minister in 1989, ended after three years because of a constitutional change requiring ministers to be over the age of 35. He was 32 at the time,” the report said.
It added that “Mr Bongo has also been criticised over his prominent role in the Freemasons – a society whose Gabonese chapter he led, as lodge master.”
BBC recalled that “it was during a visit to Saudi Arabia for an investment conference in October 2018 that he was first admitted to hospital. He eventually left for Morocco at the end of November, where he remains.”
“Frustration over the lack of information surrounding his illness is thought to be one of the triggers behind January’s attempted coup,” the report said.