Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo supported President Robert Mugabe during the early years of the Zimbabwe crisis because he believed that he owed a debt to Mugabe. A cable released by the United States embassy in Abuja said Obasanjo and Mugabe had been friends for 25 years and had developed a deep person bond.
But more importantly, Obasanjo was Head of State during the Lancaster House negotiation and had repeatedly stated that he pressured Mugabe to accept a constitution that would hold land reform in abeyance even though Mugabe wanted to forge ahead immediately on the issue.
In the late eighties and early nineties, Obasanjo also counselled Mugabe to bridle his drive for land reform so that events in Zimbabwe would not scare apartheid supporters and thus throttle reform in South Africa.
“After having twice asked Mugabe to cool his heels, Obasanjo feels obliged to support Mugabe on land reform now, the flaws that riddle its implementation notwithstanding,” the embassy said.
The same applied to ordinary Nigerians. They believed that land issues were at the root of the political crisis in Zimbabwe and they deeply resented pressure from Britain because they felt that Britain did not do nearly enough to realise a fair and equitable redistribution of land in years past.
For them, land redistribution was "justice".