Obasanjo Educational Biography Essay

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

Chief  Olusegun Obasanjo, the Balogun and Prime-Minister of Owu Kingdom, a retired army General, a one time Military Head of State, and past Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria typifies the Owu man in every respect; a no nonsense breed of people that are propelled by an unquenching passion for excellence that usually renders them badly misunderstood.

Owulakoda features this iconic character on this page…

He was bequeathed to Nigeria through a humble peasant family of lean resources but the story of Africa’s leading state cannot be completely told without several chapters devoted to the remarkable landmarks of Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo. In the languid village of Ibogun, located in the present day Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, where he was born on March 5, 1937, not even the seers could have predicted how great the child would be several decades later. But even before he quit office on May 29, 2007, President Obasanjo has already secured an imperishable place in Nigeria’s history ruling for 11 years, a quarter of the country’s chequred history as a nation. For the African continent and indeed the global community, his various roles have justifiably earned him the respect and admiration and transformed the image of Nigeria and Africa well beyond anyone’s highest expectations.

Olusegun Obasanjo’s beginning was rugged and that toughened him for future challenges. He soon learned what it was to work and pay for one’s education. At Baptist Boy’s High School (BBHS), Abeokuta (1952-56), he did quite well academically. Although unable to go to university because of his family’s low financial circumstances, he found in the Nigerian Army a great institution for self- fulfillment.

He kick started what turned out to be his glorious military career by enlisting in the Nigerian Army in March 1958, after working briefly as a teacher following the end of his schooling at BBHS. His first formal training was at the Regular Officers’ Special Training School, Teshi, Ghana and later at Mons Officers’ Cadet School, Aldershot, England (1958-59).

President Obasanjo used the platform of the Army to actualize his burning desire for intellectual activities. This is made evident by the many academic friends, which he has kept over the years right from the beginning of his life as a soldier. It is generally thought that if President Obasanjo did not join the Army, he probably would have been a successful academic.

He further trained at the Royal College of Military Engineering, Chatham, England; School of Survey, Newbury, England; Indian Defence College; Indian Army School of Engineering, Poona; and Royal Defense Studies, London, among other military institutions.

As a soldier, President Obasanjo held several command positions including service with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the then Congo. But his outstanding military moment came in 1969 when he took over command of the 3rd Marine Command from the then Colonel Benjamin Adekunle. He conceived and immediately launched “Operation Tail Wind” which helped to bring the debilitating civil war to a quick end.

On his return from a Senior Officers’ Course at Britain’s College of Defense Studies in 1974, the then Brigadier Obasanjo was appointed Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing. After the coup of July 29, 1975, he became the second-in-command to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed as the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters. During his tenure, he began an ambitious nationwide barracks construction projects. Several years before, he made friends with Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu about whom he wrote the book, Nzeogwu, among many other works.

3. First Coming: 1976-79

Following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in a military coup on February 13, 1976, General Obasanjo reluctantly stepped into Muhammed’s shoes and did not go back on the administration’s goal and objective, which he successfully achieved. In 1977, he formed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), organized the second World Black and African ‘Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), established the Egbin, Ughelli and Afam thermal power stations; set up the Corrupt Practice Bureau; and through his government’s efforts, independence was achieved for Angola and later Zimbabwe.

He introduced the National Pledge to stoke up Nigerian nationalism and indigenized the lyrics of the national anthem. He set up the Constitution Drafting Committee and the Constituent Assembly; introduced the N20 currency in honour of his friend and predecessor, the Late General Murtala Muhammed and introduced the controversial Land Use Decree on March 29, 1978. Generall Obasanjo also confirmed the movement of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja in accordance with the Murtala-Obasanjo policy program.

To crown it all up, the single-mindedness and determination with which General Obasanjo kept to the Muhammed-Obasanjo administration’s word of handing over the reins of office to a democratically elected government and the zeal he deployed into executing the political program that terminated on October 1, 1979 impressed Nigerians and the international community at a time many military rulers elsewhere in Africa were unenthusiastic about relinquishing power to elected governments. It was a dark era when African leaders found it fashionable to hang on to power even in the face of popular opposition.

4. Life after Dodan Barraks

On leaving office as military Head of State in 1979, several international and local challenges faced General Obasanjo The international community realized his vast skills and talent and decided to exploit them. Thus Obasanjo was appointed or nominated into one international service after the other. A shortlist of these international assignments included:

1983-89 Member, Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security (the Olaf Palme Commission)

1983, Member WHO Committee of experts on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 1983, Member Inter Action Council of former Heads of State and Government

1985, Chairperson, High-level Expert Group on Military Expenditures by Developing Countries

1986, Co-Chairman, Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on South Africa. 1986, Member, United Nations Panel on Eminent Persons on the relationship between Disarmament and Development.

1987-93, Director, Better World Society, Washington D.C.

1988-89, Founder and Chairman, African Leadership Forum and Chairman, Board of Directors, African Leadership Foundation Inc., New York

1988 (May), Chairman, Hearing on Namibia, the World Council of Churches, Washington D.C.

1988-99, Special Adviser to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan.

1989, Honorary Member, Committee on the United Nations Population Award. 1989, Member, Independent Group on Financial Development for Developing Countries (the Schmidt Commission)

1989, Member, Advisory Council, Parliamentarian Global Action. 1989-99, Chairman, Advisory Council, Transparency International (TI) 1990, Member, Advisory Council, the Institute for Global Ethics. 1991-93, Publisher, African Forum Quarterly

1991, Member, Eminent Persons Council, International Negotiations Network, the Carter Centre of Emory University, Atlanta.

1991, Member, Council of Advisers, The World Food Price, Des Monies Iowa. 1992, Member, Advisory Group on United Nations Financing (Ford Foundation). 1993-95, Member, United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Panel on Africa. 1994-0fficial Observer of the Elections in Mozambique at the invitation of the Government of Mozambique ..

1994-99 Member, Advisory Council, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflicts

1995-99, UNDP Human Development Ambassador

These and many others have helped to raise the stature of President Obasanjo above that of any other living Nigerian. In 1992 he was even in the race for the position of Secretary General of the United Nations.

5. Down the Valley: Prisoner of Hope (1995-98)

In 1995, this former Head of State became a very important prisoner when the military dictator, General Sani Abacha clamped a phony coup plot charge on him. It is believed that General Obasanjo who was abroad at the time when the alleged coup plot was uncovered and was warned by friends that he had been fingered by the regime as an accomplice, boldly returned home to face the dragon. As was widely expected, he was found guilty and banished to a regional local prison in Yola where it was intended that he would die.

It is now generally believed among his friends that that prison experience made him a new creature. First, he saw first-hand what the phrase: man’s inhumanity to man truly means. Second, he was drawn closer to God, he became truly convinced of the need for a true democracy and saw the tragedy of military rule. Out of jail in June 1998, he quickly published Guide to Effective Prayer, The Animal Called Man (1999) and Women of Virtue (1999). later in 2002, he also published his memoirs titled Sermons from Prison.

His prison experience though short-lived because of the death of his jailer has sometimes been likened to that of South Africa’s most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela. Obasanjo and Mandela stand out today as two distinguished African democrats who were jailed for unjust causes, rescued by divine providence and still actively involved in chasing a past greatness for Africa.

6. Second Time Around (1999-2003; 2003-2007)

President Obasanjo’s civilian presidency is an example of a true second coming. He received the people’s mandate first for a four-year tenure and renewed during the 2003 Presidential Election 20 years after he handed over power to a democratically elected government.

The circumstances of his Second Coming were as controversial as the man himself.
Coming at the time it did after Chief M K 0 Abiola lost his mandate and having been accused by a section of his Yoruba people for having supported the annulment of the 1993 presidential election, he was considered an unlikely successor to that mandate. That was partly why the South West made him look like an orphan in the 1999 election giving him the least regional vote. But Obasanjo seemed like one destined to rewrite the rulebooks. Quite against the run of critical thinking, he emerged as the first civilian president since 1983. And his achievements became quite clear that his kith and kin rallied behind him to give him a truly pan-Nigerian mandate in 2003.

Certainly there were numerous expectations from different quarters especially from those who gave him the mandate. There were clearly some policies, which bore the hallmarks of great thinking and a desire to improve the socio-economic health of the nation. Unfortunately, some of the loudest criticisms have been targeted at hanging state officials tasked with their implementation.

The Obasanjo administration initiated and executed projects that positively impacted on the lives of Nigerians, irrespective of the status. They included the Poverty Eradication Program, the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission to facilitate the provision of more infrastructure and social services in the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta, Universal Basic Education and the general improvement of infrastructure. These were aimed at changing the economic, educational and political development of deprived Nigerians.

His administration’s notable achievements cut across several spheres of national life, including Agriculture, Communications, Health, Education and Finance, among others.
•    Implementation of package policies, programs and incentives that has resulted in a remarkable 7 per cent annual growth in agricultural production
•    Provision of fertilizers, tractors, seedlings and other inputs for farmers at highly subsidized prices.

•    Introduction of policy that make the government the buyer of last resort for agricultural produce in the country
•    Revitalization of the National Strategic Grains Reserve Program

•    Establishment of the Nigeria Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRD) to provide loans for farmers at more affordable rate and interest.
•    A Cocoa Rehabilitation Program to boost cocoa production.
•    Implementation of action plan to boost domestic production of cassava, rice and other
Cash crops.
•    Enhancement of safety oversight
•    Improvement of airport and aviation security management
•    Increased deregulation of Air Transportation
•    National Civil Aviation policy reviewed to bring the industry to international standard
•    New infrastructural developments in the airports
•    Eradication of corruption, touting and other vices
•    Introduction of National Health Insurance Scheme, to make all Nigerians have access
to good health

•    Revitalization of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which has launched out war on fake and adulterated drugs in the country.

•    Level of immunization now over 80% in the country, high enough to break the backbone of communicable diseases
•    Eight Teaching Hospitals are being upgraded, re-equipped and refurbished to give five
star treatment to Nigerians.
•    Vaccine storage facility capable of taking care of the whole of West Africa built in
•    HIV / AIDS awareness program stepped up
•    Distribution of Anti-Retroviral Drugs at highly subsidized rate.
•    Work in progress on the establishment of at least one primary health care centre In each of about 8,000 wards in the country.
•    Establishment of the Natior.al Blood Transfusion Services.

• National economy received a boost of over $4b from the introduction of GSM •. Fixed line operations increased from nine to 16
•. Licensed four GSM operators
•. Licensed second national carrier
•. Over 50,000 technical and support services jobs created in communications sector •. Over 548 local government headquarters now have access to telecommunication
facilities under Rural Telephony Project.
•. Re-engineered NIPOST to deliver mail to any part of the country within 72 hours through the National Mail Route Network System.

•. Successfully launched observing Micro Satellite Code named Nigeria SAT 1 making
Nigeria the first black African country to successfully launch a satellite into space.
•. National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) constructed 6 Mobile
Internet Units (MIU) to carry out information Technology education and Internet awareness to the rural communities.

•    Launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) program
•    Procurement and distribution of modern computers and computers accessories to
Unity/technical schools across the country.
•    Implementation of National Virtual Library Project
•    National Open University was engineered to increase access higher education.
•    Salaries of academic staff in higher institutions increased by over 1 00 percent.
•    Presentation of an executive- University Autonomy Bill to the National Assembly.
approval of Private Universities to boost access to education
•    Establishment of national Education Council
•    Introduction of feeding program for school children

•    Increase in Foreign reserve to about $35 billion
•    The Paris Club debt relief

.’ The Debt Management Office (DMO) has made significant progress in loan portfolio auditing,

•    Engineering a remarkable improvement in Nigeria’s revenue profile with growth in the no-oil sector keeping pace with growth in oil revenues
•    Increment of revenue allocations to states and local governments to levels never
achieved under previous administrations,
•    Enhancement of the performance of the Nigerian Customs Service
•    Central Bank of Nigeria was given autonomy, which leads to Universal banking
•    Recapitilisation of Banking sector was successful
•    Recapitilisation of insurance companies is in progress

.’ Increased industrial capacity utilization from about 30% before the inception of the Administration to 100% in some sectors

.’ Introduction of measures to give local manufacturers more protection against foreign competition

.’ Downward review of import duties on imported machinery and raw materials for local manufacturers,
.’ Promotion and development of Small and Medium Scale Industries
.’ Establishment of small and Medium Industries Equity Investment Scheme (SMIEIS), funded with 10% of the pre-tax profit of commercial banks,

.’ Establishment of Bank of Industry (BOI) to aid the resuscitation of ailing industries and promote new ones

•    Award of contracts valued over N250 billion for the provision of water to various
rural and urban communities
.’ Construction and rehabilitation of dams for irrigations and power generation.
•    Over 12 River Basin Authorities has been resuscitated to boost irrigated agriculture
•    Water supply coverage in the country now over 50% as against 30% in 1999

•    Nation’s crude oil/condensates reserves increased to over 30 billion barrels
•    Cash call arrears of over $1 billion liquidated.
•    More joint operations agreements on exploration and production signed by NNPC
with multi-national companies
•    The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas project took off
•    NNPC mega filling stations established in major cities across the country

•. Over N300 billion committed to road projects •. Over 60 road projects completed

•. Establishment of FERMA for the maintenance of our roads •. Launching of Operation 500 roads.
•    More investors have been attracted to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry through the Progressive policies,

•    Collaboration with international Cocoa Organisation and Common Fund for Commodities on a pilot project to improve Cocoa Marketing

•    Launching of several commodity associations to encourage non-oil production and export

•    Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in USA
•    To reduce incidences of Trade Malpractices also known as 1/419,1/ Economic and Financial Crimes Commision was established
•    To boost trade, funds were released for construction of International Trade Fair complexes.
•. Establishment, restructuring and development of Free Trade Zone in the country •. Establishment of Consumers Protection Council and putting in place Consumer Protection committees in each state and Abuja

•    Power generation raised to over 4000megawwatts through comprehensive
rehabilitation of power stations

•    Completion of 138 MW Afam Power Plants

•    Completion of six 25MW power plants in Delta

•    Joint Venture Agreement signed for the rehabilitation and operation of Delta Steel Company.

•    Over N360 million disbursed to Nigerian Scientists as research grants

•    More funds disbursed to Nigerians for inventive works

•    Increased research and application of biotechnology for agricultural production.

•    Development and approval of national policy for information technology

•    Establishment of indigenous technology centres nationwide

•    Establishment of joint commission and bilateral agreements with other countries to
maintain internal security as it pertains to border control

•    Nationwide Registration for National Identify Card undertaken

•    Successful conduct of National population and housing census

•    Processing of passports now takes between 24 and 72 hours

•    Human Trafficking/Child Labour Unit established to combat human trafficking for prostitution and child labour
Played a key role in the establishment of the Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
Played a leading role in the return of the President of Sao Tome and Principe to Power
after a military take over
Set up machinery to resolve the recent crisis in Liberia and further assist in restoring democracy to the country
Efforts to secure the cooperation of Western countries in the repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria are yielding positive results
Played a leading role in the resolution of the crisis in Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Sudan among others
Successfully hosted Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja
As a result of the efforts of this administration, Nigeria has fully resumed its rightful place in the comity of nations after years of being considered a pariah state. Establishment of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization to contribute to national Development.


Establishment of Budget Monitoring & Price Intelligence Unit who has saved over N150 billion.
Establishment of Independent Corrupt Practice And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and (EFCC)
War against corruption received domestic and international accolades.
OOPL as an Enduring Legacy

In 1988, nine years after he relinquished power as military Head of State, Chief Obasanjo thought of an enduring legacy that would capture his years as Nigeria’s leader. But the idea of what is today known as Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library did not begin to crystallize until about a decade later; about which time fortune launched him once again into the nation’s No.1 seat.
Conceived in the mould of American Presidential Libraries, OOPL remains the first of its kind in Nigeria and arguably in the whole of the African continent. The massive project, located in President Obasanjo’s hometown of Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria, will provide an accommodation for the life’s work and memorabilia on the Obasanjo Presidential years as well as an ambience to carry out research work on him and other matters of interest.
Indeed, Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Obansanjo will forever live in the minds of present and future generations of Nigerians and indeed other world citizens.

(culled from ‘Bio-Data of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’ published in the brochure of the HOMECOMING celebration)


Aro ge, Omo alaa mese, omo opejoye, oge npetu, Omo aroti we bi ojo.
Omo eye mumi sasa loje ile
Omo elekiti mope timo otun oloia to lo oje
Omo elewu dudu to muti ku faare nigbo yemetu.
Omo kundani,
Omo aridi ogo logun omo aroyin ogun baara fagbe
Omo bim bim a fee bu wonti wonti
Omo obinrin jowu orere obi se re je
Omo sakiti wonyin wonyin lIasa o gbaro
Oje kii jeye ego, beeni kii ie eye orofo ojo to ba binu
won a fi itan re mejeji binu
Omo agbon odo soro Ion pe tu.
Oje ‘niti oun baku, ki e pon oun ni ki soro.
Oni awe ajo pelu ni oropekun aso. Ojo ti oje ba pon ki ni oro baje,
Ojo ti Oje ba gori odo nse lose lanpose
Ema je ki oje gori odo, oio ti oje ba gori odo abuse buse .
Omo opojo si bi ina
Omo opoluwo so tete kan Omo aja nkon nimu’ na Omo oluwo njowere paka
Emi oni jaja Oluwo, toje’ kere lenu. Oje omo aroti we bi Ojo.
Omo ilekun ojowu ti igbase gbo
Omoopojo fun won ran awe
Oti da loje, baba won o gbo ti nu
Ko da loie baba won gboti mu
Omo oti gbele aluni okon
Omo oti igbaje, apoyi ranyin
‘Looro loti fomo odo fodo
Ooro ni won f’ omo odo fodo
Ooro ni won ri to odo lonpetu
Omo aja abaso kole

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ChiefOlusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, Ph.D.[3] (; Yoruba: Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́[olúʃɛ̙́ɡũ ɒ̙básandʒɒ̙́];[4] born 5 March 1937) is a former Nigerian Armygeneral who was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation's head of state. He served as a military ruler from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979, and as a democratically elected president from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. From July 2004 to January 2006, Obasanjo also served as Chairperson of the African Union.

Early life[edit]

Olusegun Obasanjo was born on 5 March 1937 to his father Amos Adigun Obasanjo Bankole and his mother Ashabi in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. His mother died in 1958 and his father died in 1959. He became an orphan at the age of 22.

In 1948, Obasanjo enrolled into Saint David Ebenezer School at Ibogun, for his primary school education. From 1952 to 1957, he attended Baptist Boys High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, for his secondary school education.[5]

Military career[edit]

In 1958, Olusegun Obasanjo joined the Nigerian army. Some of his studies and training includes: Mons Cadet School, Aldershot, England; Royal College of Military Engineers, Chatham, England; School of Survey, Newbury, England; Indian Army School of Engineering, Poona; Royal College of Defence Studies, London.

Obasanjo served in the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna and in Cameroon between 1958 and 1959. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army 1959 and promoted a Lieutenant in 1960.

At the rank of Lieutenant, Obasanjo served in the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations Force in the Congo (formerly Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1960. He later joined the then only Engineering Unit of the Nigerian Army and became its unit commander in 1963.

In 1963, Obasanjo was promoted to the rank of captain, in Nigerian Army. He was attached to Indian Army Engineering School, at Kirkee, India in 1965. That year he was promoted to the rank of Major.

In 1965, he attended the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India (In a book, the 40th anniversary book on the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India, 1947-1987, Col. R.D. Palsokar (retired) quoted the commandant's confidential report on the then Major Obasanjo of the 20th staff course set in 1965, as saying that he was "the best officer who was sent up till then from that country (Nigeria) to Wellington. Palsokar also stated: "He was particularly popular in all circles).

Obasanjo was promoted lieutenant colonel in 1967, appointed commander Second Area command of the Nigerian Army. He was made Commander, Garrison, Ibadan, Nigeria, between 1967 and 1969.

Obasanjo’s colonel promotion came in 1969. He was appointed from 1969-1970, general officer commanding 3rd Infantry Division, Nigerian Army. He was later made the commander, Third Marine Commando Division, South-Eastern State, during the Nigerian Biafran Civil War.

On 12 January 1970, Obasanjo accepted the Biafran surrender ending the Nigerian Civil War.

From 1970 to 1975, he was the Commander of the Engineering Corps, Nigerian Army. Earlier in 1972, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier general.

In January 1975 the head of state for the federal republic of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon, made Obasanjo the Federal commissioner for works and housing.

On 29 July 1975, when General Murtala Mohammed took power as head of state via a military coup, Obasanjo was appointed as the chief of staff supreme headquarters. In January 1976 he was promoted to lieutenant general.

Following a failed coup by Lt. Col. Dimka in which General Murtala Mohammed was killed, Obasanjo was chosen as Head of state by the supreme military council on 13 February 1976.

Obasanjo resigned as head of state and also resigned from the army on 1 October 1979, handing over power to the newly elected civilian president of Shehu Shagari.[6]

Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing[edit]

In January 1975, General Yakubu Gowon, appointed Obasanjo as the Federal commissioner for works and housing to oversee the development of housing, highways, roads, bridges, electrical and street lighting in the country following the oil boom.

Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters[edit]

In July 1975, General Murtala Mohammed took power as head of state via a military coup, Obasanjo was appointed as the chief of staff supreme headquarters.

Military coup of 13 February 1976[edit]

On 13 February 1976, coup plotters, led by Army Col. Dimka, marked him, Murtala and other senior military personnel for assassination. Murtala was killed during the attempted coup, but Obasanjo escaped death. The low profile security policy adopted by Murtala had allowed the plotters easy access to their targets. The coup was foiled because the plotters missed Obasanjo and General Theophilus Danjuma, chief of army staff and de facto number three man in the country. The plotters failed to monopolize communications, although they were able to take over the radio station to announce the coup attempt.

Obasanjo and Danjuma established a chain of command and re-established security in Lagos, thereby regaining control. Obasanjo was appointed as head of state by the Supreme Military Council. Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala, Obasanjo pledged to continue the programme for the restoration of civilian government in 1979 and to carry forward the reform programme to improve the quality of public service.

Head of State (1976-79)[edit]

Oil boom[edit]

The military regime of Obasanjo benefited from oil revenues that increased. Increased oil revenues permitted government spending for infrastructure and improvements on a large scale; critics thought it was poorly planned and concentrated too much in urban areas. The oil boom was marred by a minor recession in 1978-79.[7]

The government planned to relocate the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja, a more central location in the interior of the country. It intended to encourage industrial development inland and relieve the congestion in the Lagos area. Abuja was chosen because it was not identified with any particular ethnic group.[8]

However, as head of state, Obasanjo reduced the share of oil royalties and rents to state of origin from 50 to 30 percent.[9]


Industrialisation, which had grown slowly after World War II through the civil war, boomed in the 1970s, despite many infrastructure constraints. Growth was particularly pronounced in the production and assembly of consumer goods, including vehicle assembly, and the manufacture of soap and detergents, soft drinks, pharmaceuticals, beer, paint, and building materials. The Obasanjo government invested strongly in infrastructure, and the number of "parastatals" — jointly government- and privately owned companies — proliferated. The Nigerian Enterprises Promotion decrees of 1977 further encouraged the growth of an indigenous middle class.

Heavy investment was planned in steel production. With Soviet assistance, a steel mill was developed at Ajaokuta in Kogi State, not far from Abuja. Agriculture and associated projects generally declined, although the government undertook large-scale irrigation projects in the states of Borno, Kano, Sokoto, and Bauchi with World Bank support.[10]

The oil boom revenues led to a rise in per capita income, especially for the newly emerging urban middle class. Inflation, particularly in the price of food, promoted both industrialisation and the expansion of agricultural production. With the government encouraging food crops, the traditional export earners — peanuts, cotton, cocoa, and palm products — declined in significance and then ceased to be important at all. Nigeria's exports became dominated by oil.


Education also expanded under Obasanjo. At the start of the civil war, there were only five universities, but by 1975 the number had increased to thirteen, with seven more to be established over the next several years. In 1975 there were 53,000 university students. Similar advances were made in the expansion in primary and secondary school education, particularly in those northern states that had lagged behind others. During Obasanjo's regime, universal primary school education was introduced nationwide.[11]

Political repression[edit]

Obasanjo was also accused of being responsible for political repression. In one particular instance, the compound of Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti was raided and burned to the ground after a member of his commune was involved in an altercation with military personnel. Fela and his family were beaten and raped and his mother, political activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was killed by being thrown from a window. Her coffin was carried to Obasanjo's barracks as a protest against political repression.[12]

Transition to democracy[edit]

The second republican constitution, which was adopted in 1979, was modelled on the Constitution of the United States, with provision for a President, Senate, and House of Representatives. The country was prepared for local elections to be followed by national elections, in the hopes of returning Nigeria to civilian rule.

On 1 October 1979, Obasanjo handed power to Shehu Shagari, a democratically elected civilian president, hence becoming the first military head of state to transfer power peacefully to a civilian regime in Nigeria.


During the dictatorship of Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Obasanjo spoke out against the human rights abuses of the regime, and was imprisoned for alleged participation in an aborted coup based on testimony obtained via torture.[13] He was released only after Abacha's sudden death on 8 June 1998. While in prison, Obasanjo became a born-again Christian.[14]

Recollecting his experience during the trial of the coup, Obasanjo says “My saddest day was when I sat in front of a military panel set up by late former Head of State, Sani Abacha to try me over a phantom coup, and sentenced to death and later commuted to 30 years imprisonment.” [15]

Presidential campaigns and elections[edit]


In the 1999 presidential elections, Obasanjo ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and defeated Olu Falae, the joint candidate of the All Peoples Party, APP, and the Alliance for Democracy, AD.


In 2003, President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ ran for a second term under People's Democratic Party and won by a margin of more than 11 million votes.


First term[edit]

In the 1999 elections, the first in sixteen years, Obasanjo decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Obasanjo won with 62.6% of the vote,[16] sweeping the strongly Christian Southeast and the predominantly Muslim north, but decisively lost his home region, the Southwest, to his fellow-Yoruba and Christian, Olu Falae, the only other candidate. 29 May 1999, the day Obasanjo took office as the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule, is now commemorated as Democracy Day, a public holiday in Nigeria. During Democracy Day, Nigerians host celebratory dinners and festivals around the country, having fun with family, friends and plenty of food.

Obasanjo spent most of his first term travelling abroad. He succeeded in winning at least some Western support for strengthening Nigeria's nascent democracy. Britain and the United States, in particular, were glad to have an African ally who was openly critical of abuses committed in Robert Mugabe'sZimbabwe at a time when many other African nations (including South Africa) were taking a softer stance. Obasanjo also won international praise for Nigeria's role in crucial regional peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The international community was guided in its approach to Obasanjo in part by Nigeria's status as one of the world's 10 biggest oil exporters as well as by fears that, as the continent's most populous nation, Nigerian internal divisions risked negatively affecting the entire continent.

Some public officials like the National Assembly speaker and Senate president were involved in conflicts with the president, who had to battle many impeachment moves from both houses.[17] Obasanjo managed to survive impeachment and was renominated.

Second term[edit]

Obasanjo was re-elected in a tumultuous 2003 election that had violent ethnic and religious overtones. His main opponent, fellow former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari, was Muslim and drew his support mainly from the north. Capturing 61.8% of the vote, Obasanjo defeated Buhari by more than 11 million votes.[18]

In November 2003, Obasanjo was criticized for his decision to grant asylum to the deposed Liberian president, Charles Taylor.[19]

On June 12, 2006 he signed the Greentree Agreement with Cameroonian President Paul Biya which formally put an end to the Bakassi peninsula border dispute.[20] Even though the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution declaring that the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the Bakassi Peninsula was illegal, Obasanjo gave the order for it to continue as planned.[21]

Oil revenue[edit]

With the oil revenue, Obasanjo created the Niger Delta Development Commission and implemented the Universal Basic Education Program to enhance the literacy level of Nigerians. He constituted both the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Resuscitated the National Fertilizer Company in Kaduna and (Onne) Port Harcourt. Obasanjo increased the share of oil royalties and rents to state of origin from 3 to 13 percent.[22]

Economic growth and debt payment[edit]

Before Obasanjo's administration, Nigeria's GDP growth had been painfully slow since 1987, and only managed 3 per cent between 1999/2000. However, under Obasanjo the growth rate doubled to 6 per cent until he left office, helped in part by higher oil prices. Nigeria's foreign reserves rose from $2 billion in 1999 to $43 billion on leaving office in 2007. He was able to secure debt pardons from the Paris and London club amounting to some $18 billion and paid another $18 billion to be debt free. Most of these loans were accumulated from short term trade arrears during the exchange control period. (Point of correction). Most of these loans were accumulated not out of corruption but during a period 1982-1985 when Nigeria operated exchange control regime that vested all foreign exchange transactions on the central bank of Nigeria. The naira exchange rate to the US dollar and other major currencies during this period was highly regulated and artificially high. Nigerian importers paid local currency equivalent to the central bank through their local commercial banks but during the oil glut period of 1982-86 when foreign exchange was scarce the central bank did not have enough foreign exchange to pay for current imports. This resulted in short term foreign trade payment arrears. Short term trade arrears averaged about US$3.0 billion each year between 1983 and 1986 when the new military government of General Babangida floated the naira and imports were thereafter paid for on a current basis.

Nigeria stopped accumulating short term foreign trade payment arrears beginning from 1986. Before then, yearly accumulation of around US$3.0 billion created the foreign debt for Nigeria. Subsequent growth of Nigeria's debt was due to interest on the previous year's stock of short term trade debt owed to export credit agencies and non-insured creditors (Source:CBN Annual Reports 1983-1986. This information to refute the claim that corruption was the source of Nigeria's past foreign debt is supplied by Osarenren F. Asemota Former CBN Balance of Payment Staff).

Third term agenda[edit]

Obasanjo was embroiled in controversy regarding his "Third Term Agenda," a plan to modify the constitution so he could serve a third, four-year term as President. This led to a political media uproar in Nigeria and the bill was not ratified by the National Assembly.[23][24] Consequently, Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election.[25] In an exclusive interview granted to Channels Television, Obasanjo denied involvement in what has been defined as "Third Term Agenda." He said that it was the National Assembly (Nigeria) that included tenure elongation amongst the other clauses of the Constitution of Nigeria that were to be amended. "I never toyed with the idea of a third term," Obasanjo said.[26]

Obasanjo was condemned by major political players during the Third Term Agenda saga. Senator Ken Nnamani, former President of the Nigerian Senate claimed Obasanjo informed him about the agenda shortly after he became President of the Nigerian Senate. “Immediately, I became Senate President, he told me of his intentions and told me how he wanted to achieve it. I initially did not take him seriously until the events began to unfold”. He also insinuated that Eight Billion Naira was spent to corrupt legislators to support the agenda. “How can someone talk like this that he didn’t know about it, yet money, both in local and foreign currencies, exchanged hands,” he asked. Femi Gbajabiamila corroborated Nnamani's account but put the figure differently, “The money totalled over N 10 billion. How could N10bn be taken out of the national treasury for a project when you were the sitting President, yet that project was not your idea? Where did the money come from?” In the following quotes, Nnamani said President George W. Bush warned Obasanjo to desist from his plan to contest presidential election for the third term: “If you want to be convinced that the man is only telling a lie, pick up a copy of the book written by Condoleza Rice, the former Secretary to the Government of the United States of America. It is actually an autobiography by Rice. On page 628 or page 638, she discussed Obasanjo’s meeting with Bush, how he told the former American President that he wanted to see how he could amend the Constitution, so that he could go for a third term. To his surprise, Bush told him not to try it. Bush told him to be patriotic and leave by May 29, 2007.”[27]


He became chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, with control over nominations for governmental positions and even policy and strategy. As one Western diplomat said, "He intends to sit in the passenger seat giving advice and ready to grab the wheel if Nigeria goes off course."[28] He voluntary resigned as the chairman board of trustees of the PDP in April, 2012.[29] Afterwards, he withdrew from political activities with PDP.

In March 2008, Obasanjo was "supposedly" indicted by a committee of the Nigerian parliament for awarding $2.2bn-worth of energy contracts during his eight-year rule, without due process. The report of this probe was never accepted by the whole Nigerian parliament due to manipulation of the entire process by the leadership of the power probe committee. It is not on any official record that Chief Obassanjo was indicted.[30]

Obasanjo was appointed Special Envoy by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. He held separate meetings with DRC President Joseph Kabila and rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

During the Zimbabwean election of July 2013, Obasanjo headed a delegation of African Union election observers.[31]

On May 2014, Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan requesting that he should mediate on behalf of the Nigerian government for the release of the Chibok girls held by the Boko Haram militants.[32]

On 16 February 2015, he quit the ruling party and directed a PDP ward leader to tear his membership card during a press conference.[33] He was later to be known as the navigator of the newly formed opposition party, the APC.[34]

On 24th January 2018, he wrote serving President Muhammadu Buhari highlighting his areas of weakness and advising him not to run for office in 2019. [35] To date all his letters to incumbent presidents have preceded their downfall.[36]

On 31st January 2018, his political movement called "Coalition for Nigeria" was launched in Abuja. [37]

Personal life[edit]

Obasanjo was married four times to: Esther Oluremi (ex-wife); Lynda (deceased); Mojiosola Adekunle (deceased); and Stella Abebe (deceased).

Obasanjo has twenty children, in alphabetical order they are: Bisoye, Biyi, Bola, Bukola, Busola, Damilola, Dare, Dayo, Deboye, Funke, Funso, Gbenga, Iyabo, Juwon, Kofo, Kunle (nephew Obasanjo adopted as a son), Olu, Segun, Seun, and Toyosi.[38]

His son, Dare Obasanjo, is a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft.[39]

In 1987, his second wife/ex-wife, Lynda, was ordered out of her car by armed men, and was fatally shot for failing to move quickly.[40]

On 23 October 2005, the President lost his wife, Stella Obasanjo, First Lady of Nigeria the day after she had an abdominoplasty in Spain. In 2009, the doctor only known as 'AM' was sentenced to one year in jail for negligence in Spain and ordered to pay restitution to her son of about $176,000.[41]

In addition to a variety of chieftaincy titles, Obasanjo holds the titles of the Balogun of Owu and the Ekerin Balogun of the Egba clan of Yorubaland.[42]

In December 2017, Obasanjo defended his Ph.D thesis at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). He now holds a Ph.D in Theology. That was about two years after he completed his Masters Degree in the same course.[43][44][45][46].


Olusegun Obasanjo has received several awards and medals. In alphabetical order they include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^Ebuzor, Chika. "'Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder,' OBJ says". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  2. ^Rowland Croucher. "John Mark Ministries | Nigeria: Muslim Muscle In The North". Jmm.aaa.net.au. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^"Statement by Obasanjo to the United Nations"(PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^With tone marking, his name is spelled Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́.
  5. ^News, The (2007). The News, Volume 28. Independent Communications Network Limited, 2007University Press of America. p. 29. 
  6. ^Obotetukudo, Solomon (2011). The Inaugural Addresses and Ascension Speeches of Nigerian Elected and Non elected presidents and prime minister from 1960 -2010. University Press of America. pp. 125–126. 
  7. ^https://books.google.com/books?id=cg9SKd_PqogC&pg=PA256&lpg=PA256&dq=olusegun+obasanjo+oil+boom&source=bl&ots=kbgcmmfobR&sig=6inth-deBGQv315Oq9kIlbn-R5g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_6_z0s9_NAhVFl5QKHW4QBlQQ6AEIOTAC#v=onepage&q=olusegun%20obasanjo%20oil%20boom&f=false
  8. ^https://www.naij.com/574434-nigeriaat55-top-5-reasons-nigerias-capital-moved-lagos-abuja-photos.html
  9. ^"Leadership, Policy Making, and Economic Growth in African Countries: The Case of Nigeria"(PDF). 
  10. ^https://www.jstor.org/stable/523874?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  11. ^"How well do you know Nigeria", Global Post[dead link]
  12. ^Grass, Randall F. (Spring 1986). "Fela Anikulapo-Kuti: The Art of an Afrobeat Rebel". The Drama Review. 30 (1): 131–148. JSTOR 1145717. 
  13. ^Transparency International Secretariat. "AN INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN LED BY TI IS TO INCREASE THE PRESSURE ON NIGERIA'S RULERS". Transparency International. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  14. ^"Olusegun Obasanjo". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  15. ^"Obasanjo reveals 'saddest day' of his life". PREMIUM TIMES. Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  16. ^"Olusegun Obasanjo". Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  17. ^"NIGERIA: House gives reasons for Obasanjo impeachment threat". IRIN News. IRIN. 5 September 2002. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  18. ^"Annual Abstract of Statistics, 2012". National Bureau of Statistics. National Bureau of Statistics. pp. 595–596. Archived from the original(PDF) on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  19. ^Habeeb I. Pindiga (November 10, 2003). "Asylum for Taylor an impeachable offence - MD Yusufu". Daily Trust. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  21. ^"Nigeria to appeal Bakassi delay". BBC News. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  22. ^"Leadership, Policy Making, and Economic Growth in African Countries: The Case of Nigeria"(PDF). 
  23. ^Bid to Allow Nigerian a Third Term Hits Snag - Washington Post. Published: 13 May 2006. Access date: 18 July 2012.
  24. ^Nigeria Rejects Term-Limit Change in Constitution - NPR. 17 May 2006. Includes transcript. Accessed: 19 July 2012.
  25. ^"President of Nigeria loses bid for a 3rd term". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  26. ^http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/04/national-assembly-initiated-3rd-term-obasanjo/
  27. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  28. ^Africa's Barometer, Time Magazine.
  29. ^Obasanjo Suddenly Quits as Chair of PDP?Trustees BoardArchived 4 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine., This Day Newspaper.
  30. ^"Nigerian deals 'wasted billions'". BBC News. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  31. ^"Head of AU vote monitors Obasanjo arrives in Zimbabwe". Fox News. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  32. ^"Obasanjo initiates contact with Boko Haram to help #BringBackOurGirls". Premium Times. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  33. ^"Why I directed PDP Ward Leader to tear my membership card – Obasanjo". Premium Times. 18 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  34. ^"APC recruits Obasanjo as navigator | P.M. NEWS Nigeria". www.pmnewsnigeria.com. Retrieved 2016-04-17. 
  35. ^"Full text: Obasanjo's letter to Buhari". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  36. ^"Obasanjo's seven letters till date have preceded fall of incumbent presidents - BusinessDay : News you can trust". BusinessDay : News you can trust. 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  37. ^"BREAKING: Obasanjo's Coalition for Nigeria launched in Abuja - Daily Post Nigeria". Daily Post Nigeria. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-02-01. 
  38. ^"olusegun-obasanjo's 20children photo". 
  39. ^"Dare Obasanjo on the perils of being a Microsoft blogger, and why he actually has to read all the Nigerian 419 spam". JobsBlog: Life at Microsoft. Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  40. ^Blaine Harden, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, p. 283.
  41. ^"Doctor jailed over former first lady's lipo death". Australian Broadcasting Company. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  42. ^https://owulakoda.wordpress.com.
  43. ^Amoo, Abdussalam. "Why Obasanjo spent less than two years on his PhD – NOUN". EduCeleb. EduCeleb
AU Observation Head - President General Olusegun Obasanjo visits President Robert Mugabe -Zimbabwe General Election 2013


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