Local immigrant running for president in African country


Gabon is considered the third-richest oil producing country in West Africa.

It has a population of 1,300,000 and is the size of Colorado. Having met the current Gabon President Omar Bongo to express his concerns over millions of government dollars having been invested in private corporate American bank accounts, Leon Obame has decided to run for president of the country himself.

Leon Obame is very passionate about his country, even though he was educated at District of Columbia University in Washington, D.C., and is and married to an African American woman. Obame (LO) moved to the Twin Cities in 1982 due to a Northwest Airlines job relocation.

MSR: Tell about how you plan to fund your political campaign.

LO: My plans are to solicit donations and develop a nonprofit business that seeks to create a political foundation for the purpose of representing the future of Gabonese citizens. We have a democracy that’s been manipulated into a dictatorship because of mismanagement of the country’s oil resources.

MSR: What is the current economic situation in Gabon?

LO: Well, it is 20 percent developed; only the people who are affiliated with President Bongo are doing well. When I sat down to tell President Bongo my issues, he offered me a position making six figures, because he doesn’t want any adverse opinions about the current budget.

In 2005, the New York Times published an article about lobbyist Jack Abramoff asking for $9 million in 2003 to arrange a meeting with President Omar Bongo; the results of the meeting had been very controversial. [They] even sparked an investigation by the IRS about different private bank accounts from Citibank.

MSR: How relevant are these accusations to the economic development of Gabon?

LO: Very relevant to the economy. That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to run against [President Bongo] even though my brother — who is the [Gabon] secretary of state — has called me many times to try to convince me that “royalties” await me at home if I choose not run against President Bongo in 2012 [and that it] is a bad idea.

However the [connections] of [President Bongo’s] accounts with money laundering have been repeatedly reported in [the] U.S. …The multiple accounts in New York, Paris, London, and Switzerland include checking, money markets, time deposits, etc.

MSR: How are you developing your political party from America, and what do you hope to change?

LO: To tell you the truth, it is an honor being appointed the “mayor’ of Gabonese citizens in America. If anything happens to Gabonese [immigrants], they’ll contact me first. We are organizing Gabonese citizens nationwide in America, France, and other countries. It is my duty of leadership to preserve the country’s resources so the citizens can profit from world trade and create more opportunities.

MSR: Why is it so important to improve the economic development of Gabon when in fact Gabon is considered one of the most profitable countries?

LO: In business, as with politics, deception cultivates greed; money has a way of overpowering the truth. With my election, the country can begin to open up in the world trade market, develop better healthcare facilities, better schools for those seeking higher education, more employment opportunities, and more accountability for the political process. My campaign will make Gabon’s rich oil resources more accessible worldwide.

We’re all about the business of Gabon, the right way. One of my main goals is to partner with different cities for educational and international business training with young people and to get them in business politics, especially in Minneapolis.

MSR: What are your main concerns about the current political/business process in Gabon?

LO: We must establish political credentials. We can’t have all of President Bongo’s family running the country and 90 percent of them haven’t finished high school; they don’t have the business mind or political credentials to be running the country. When I arrived in this country, my education studies [were] business management and political science.

MSR: Lastly, do you think people will welcome the change and the awareness of the business practices in Gabon?

LO: President Bongo is a gangster and political pimp; he’s been draining the currency for decades. Gabon citizens would be foolish not to welcome change. We live in a world where CEOs bankrupt corporations and steal retirement plans after they’ve exhausted your services …You can’t even afford [a] nursing home without the right retirement portfolio.

Kelechi Jaavaid welcomes reader responses to kelechijaavaid@hotmail.com.