During a cabinet meeting on January 22nd, the Gabonese government decided to grant a series of financial incentives to soldiers. All Defense and Security Forces (DSF) will receive a “freedom coup” indemnity, referring to the August 30 coup. Additionally, a performance bonus is planned for forces stationed at the borders, and a bonus for the valorization of military diplomas is introduced. These decisions have sparked considerable discussion in the country.
While the exact amounts are not disclosed, the payouts have raised eyebrows. The Vice President of the Réagir party denounces favoritism, especially as the government has simultaneously tightened criteria for awarding scholarships. “There is an injustice, a double standard, while scholarships are limited to reduce expenses,” explains Étienne Franky Meba Ondo.
The leader of another party speaks of a “form of corruption and populism to appease the army.” According to several political figures, President Oligui Nguema may be rewarding the military to secure their support for his future candidacy in the elections scheduled at the end of the transition. The military seized power on August 30 in a coup that propelled General Oligui Nguema to the country’s leadership.
Some have taken risks
However, some have a more nuanced view. An educator believes that less accessible scholarships will encourage students to work harder, pointing out that the government has also allocated 13 billion to universities and higher education institutions.
Regarding the “coup bonus,” an intellectual notes, “the military took risks. It could have gone wrong, so I understand this gesture.” For those assigned to guard the borders, the observer emphasizes that these are less desirable regions with more challenging living conditions, far from the capital. “This will make these positions more attractive,” he says. Finally, in the case of diploma bonuses, “this benefit exists in the judiciary and education,” points out another observer. However, he hopes that the government will be more informative, explaining such decisions more clearly to avoid misconceptions and misinterpretations.