At Omar Bongo University situated in Gabon’s capital, Nathan Ovono Obiang, a 25-year-old student who is currently enrolled in his third year of degree course, remains as engrossed with the recent developments unfolding within his post-colonial country as he is with his mathematical studies. “Although I cannot see any prospects at present, we are cognizant that change can never happen overnight,” he said.
A little less than a month ago, Gabon’s new military leadership brought an abrupt end to 55 years of governance by a family suspected of exploiting the nation’s oil reserves for their own gain. The August 30 removal of President Ali Bongo Ondimba – who took over from his father Omar when he passed away in 2009 after ruling for almost forty-two years – transpired shortly after being declared victorious during controversial elections.
General Brice Olguin Nguema was rapidly sworn in as interim president following the coup d’état. He has vowed to return power to civilian rule once more after a transitional period and hold elections but has not yet set any date for this process. In addition, Nguema has pledged to enact reforms that will benefit disadvantaged groups such as the young and impoverished populace through education initiatives.
Ali Bongo left behind an educational system which had been neglected due to inadequate funding and corrupt administration by previous governments according to the current military regime governing Gabon today. Established back in 1970, Omar Bongo University (UOB) serves as Gabon’s primary institution of higher learning; however its facilities have deteriorated significantly with start dates regularly pushed back each academic year due to poor infrastructure maintenance whilst equipment upgrades remain scarce or nonexistent altogether.
Several buildings now lie abandoned while bursaries intended for students most in need frequently go unpaid alongside reports from some faculty members stating they sometimes fail to receive remuneration for several months on end without explanation provided by authorities.
Despite cramped classrooms and lecture halls filled beyond capacity levels alike common problems faced by many African universities today; job opportunities continue remaining limited upon graduation leaving many graduates feeling disillusioned about their future career prospects.
“During my first year alone there were already two thousand students vying over seats available within each lesson,” added Ovono Obiang.
While some individuals maintain optimistic outlooks regarding recent events like those cheering on coup leaders freeing them from what they perceive as oppressive clutches perpetuated by the Bongo dynasty- impatience continues growing among others especially given uncertainty surrounding how long it may take before stability returns along with needed improvements made towards bettering life conditions throughout society again.