Who is Brice Oligui Nguema? The leader behind Gabon’s coup


In the wake of the recent coup attempt in Gabon, the name Brice Oligui Nguema has emerged as the leader behind this audacious act. The commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard, Nguema holds significant power and influence within the country. In this article, we will delve into the background of this enigmatic figure and explore his role in the attempted coup.

Born into a military family, Nguema’s path to power was paved from an early age. He received his training at the prestigious Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco, honing his skills and preparing himself for a career in the military. It was during this time that he caught the attention of the Bongo family, specifically former President Omar Bongo.

Who is Brice Oligui Nguema? The leader behind Gabon's coup
Gabonese soldiers carry General Brice Oligui Nguema, head of the presidential guard which overthrew President Ali Bongo Ondimba [Screenshot by Gabon 24/AFP]
Nguema’s rise to prominence came when he became an aide-de-camp to one of Omar Bongo’s commanders in the Republican Guard. This close connection to the Bongo family would prove to be crucial in his ascent to power. Tragically, Omar Bongo passed away in 2009, and it was at this point that Nguema’s loyalty to the family truly came into play.

When Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo, succeeded his father as president, Nguema was sent on diplomatic missions to Morocco and Senegal. These assignments allowed him to further establish his loyalty to the Bongo family and solidify his position within the power structure of Gabon.

In 2019, Nguema took over as the head of the Gabonese Republican Guard, a role that bestowed upon him significant responsibility for presidential security. With his characteristic green beret, Nguema commanded the security unit tasked with protecting the president. This position gave him the opportunity to implement reforms and strengthen Gabon’s internal security systems.

However, these reforms were seen by many as a means to consolidate power and extend President Ali Bongo’s stay in office. This perception painted Nguema as a loyalist, devoted to the Bongo family and willing to go to great lengths to secure their political dominance.

It is reported that Nguema even composed a song expressing his unwavering loyalty to the president, with lyrics that included the line: “I would defend my president with honour and loyalty.” This deep-rooted loyalty undoubtedly played a role in his decision to spearhead the recent coup attempt.

Brice Oligui Nguema: A Businessman

Who is Brice Oligui Nguema? The leader behind Gabon's coupBrice Oligui Nguema, apart from his military and diplomatic roles, has been recognized as a prominent businessman in Gabon. With his entrepreneurial skills and astute financial decisions, he has amassed a fortune, making him a millionaire within Gabonese circles. His involvement in the expansion of the Bongo family’s businesses overseas has been a crucial factor in their success.

In a 2020 investigation conducted by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on the assets held by the Bongo family in the United States, Nguema’s influence and contribution were revealed. The report exposed his acquisition of three properties in the Maryland suburbs of Hyattsville and Silver Spring, located just outside the nation’s capital. These properties, purchased in 2015 and 2018, were acquired using a staggering sum of over $1 million in cash.

When questioned about his ownership of these properties, Nguema swiftly stated that it was a private matter. In his view, regardless of whether it was in France or the United States, one’s private life should be respected and kept confidential. This response exemplifies his commitment to maintaining privacy when it comes to personal affairs.

Nguema’s success as a businessman is evident in his ability to identify profitable investment opportunities. His ventures in the real estate market, specifically in the middle- and working-class neighbourhoods of Maryland, showcase his strategic thinking and financial prowess. By investing in these areas, he has not only secured a profitable return on investment but has also contributed to the growth and development of these communities.

Furthermore, Nguema’s involvement in expanding the Bongo family’s businesses overseas highlights his competence in managing international ventures. His role in spearheading their global expansion demonstrates his exceptional leadership skills and ability to navigate complex business landscapes. Through his efforts, the Bongo family has benefited greatly, solidifying their position in the international business arena.

Brice Oligui Nguema for President?

Who is Brice Oligui Nguema? The leader behind Gabon's coupIn recent days, a name that has been circulating in the political landscape of Gabon is Brice Oligui Nguema. With the current dissatisfaction surrounding the leadership of the country, many are asking if Nguema could be the solution to Gabon’s problems. In an interview with French daily Le Monde, Nguema expressed his thoughts on the current situation and his potential role in the future of the country.

One of the main points that Nguema raised in the interview was the illness of the current Head of State, Ali Bongo. Bongo suffered a stroke in October 2018, which has left him weakened and unable to fully execute his duties. Nguema emphasised that this issue is widely acknowledged, but no one has taken responsibility to address it. He argued that Bongo did not have the right to serve a third term, as it violated the constitution. Furthermore, Nguema criticised the method of election, stating that it was not conducted properly. These concerns have led to the army’s decision to take responsibility and find a suitable successor to Bongo.

Nguema suggested that Bongo should retire and enjoy his rights as a regular Gabonese citizen. He believes that it is time for the country to turn the page and move forward. The generals in the military are set to meet to discuss the appointment of a successor to Bongo. While Bongo is currently under house arrest, it appears that Gabon’s soldiers are showing support for Nguema. Videos and images circulating on social media depict soldiers dancing with Nguema and referring to him as Gabon’s “next strongman.”

The question that arises from these developments is whether Brice Oligui Nguema is the right candidate to take on the role of President. While there may be enthusiasm among some members of the military, it is essential to assess Nguema’s qualifications and abilities for this position. Nguema’s public statements and opinions indicate that he has a firm understanding of the issues at hand and is willing to address them head-on. However, it is important to note that leadership requires more than just acknowledging problems; it requires effective solutions and the ability to mobilise and unite the nation.

Nguema’s supporters argue that his military background and experience make him a suitable candidate for the presidency. They believe that his leadership skills, honed through years of service, make him the ideal individual to bring stability and progress to Gabon. However, it is crucial to examine his track record and evaluate his leadership style to determine if he possesses the necessary qualities to lead the nation effectively.

While the coup ultimately failed, Nguema’s actions have shaken the political landscape of Gabon. The attempted overthrow of a democratically elected government highlights the underlying tensions and power struggles within the country. Nguema’s role as the leader behind this coup raises questions about the future of Gabon and the continued influence of the Bongo family.

As Gabon grapples with the aftermath of this coup attempt, the focus will turn to Brice Oligui Nguema and his fate. Will he face retribution for his actions, or will he be able to maintain his position of power within the country? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain – the name Brice Oligui Nguema will continue to be a significant figure in the political landscape of Gabon.

Ericson Mangoli
Ericson Mangoli is the founder and Managing Editor of Who Owns Africa, a platform for African journalism that focuses on politics, governance, and business. With a passion for truth and a dedication to highlighting pressing issues in Africa, Mangoli has become a significant voice in the field. He embarked on this journey after graduating with a degree in communications and realizing his true calling was in investigative reporting and shedding light on untold stories.  Who Owns Africa provides thought-provoking articles, in-depth analyses, and incisive commentary to help people understand the complexities of the region. Mangoli is committed to impartiality and ethical reporting, setting high standards for his team. His vision for the platform is to foster critical thinking and promote informed discussions that have a positive impact on African society. Mangoli is known for his eloquent and insightful writing which tackles pressing issues in Africa. His articles cover a range of topics including political corruption, economic development, fostering international partnerships, and African governance. He sheds light on the complexities of these subjects and empowers readers to engage in conversations for positive change. Mangoli's coverage of African politics analyzes the factors that drive change and hinder progress, while his reporting on governance advocates for stronger institutions and policies. Additionally, he explores the challenges and opportunities facing African businesses and inspires readers to contribute to Africa's economic growth.


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