Is President Ali Bongo of Gabon the “Igbo” President? By Jibrin Ibrahim

Ali BongoThe French essayist, Pierre Péan is a specialist on Gabon who wrote a book on the French connection and corruption in the country in 1983 called “African Affairs”.  His most recent book called “New African Affairs”, which has just been published, contains serious allegations about the Nigerian origins of the Gabonese President, Ali Bongo. He claims that Ali Bongo, previously known as Alain Bongo,was brought from Biafra during the Nigerian civil war and adopted by former President Omar Bongo. It would be recalled that the late Gabonese President Omar Bongo, previously known as Albert-Bernard Bongo. before his conversion to Islam, strongly supported Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. Bongo organised the airlift of numerous children from Biafra during the Nigerian civil war and subsequently gave them out for adoption. Ali Bongo is said to be the one he personally adopted. Gabon, as is generally known has a fertility problem with relatively low birth rate so adoption was a practice that had wide support.

The origin of Ali Bongo has become a major political issue because the Constitution of Gabon is clear that no one born to foreign parents can be president. The Gabonese opposition has therefore picked on the revelations in the book to demand for a DNA test to prove that Ali Bongo is a true son of his purported mother and previous First Lady, Patience Dabany. He has refused to take the test claiming his Gabonese origin is not in doubt. Meanwhile, the police have stopped planned demonstrations by the opposition parties for 13th November and Ali Bongo has sued Pierre Péan for defamation.

One of the key factors fuelling the controversy is that the birth certificate Ali Bongo presented as part of his documentation as presidential candidate in 2009 claims he was born in Brazzaville and named Ali Bongo at birth. Everybody however knows that he was called Alain in his younger days so the birth certificate is obviously fake. Pierre Péan also claims that the 2009 presidential elections were rigged and that the winner of the election was the opposition leader Andre Mba Obame who was denied victory because of his Fang ethnic origin. He also alleges that Ali Bongo was also strongly supported by the French President at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, who depended on the Gabonese President to finance his re-election campaign with millions of Euros. Nicolas Sarkozy is himself facing numerous investigations by the French judiciary about the allegedly illegal sources of his campaign funds.

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