Olusegun Obasanjo

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Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ
Olusegun Obasanjo DD-SC-07-14396-cropped.jpg
Obasanjo visiting Arlington County, Virginia, in May 2001.
President of Nigeria
In office
29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007
Vice President Atiku Abubakar
Preceded by Abdulsalami Abubakar
Succeeded by Umaru Yar'Adua
Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria
In office
13 February 1976 – 30 September 1979
Vice President Shehu Musa Yar'Adua
Preceded by Murtala Mohammed
Succeeded by Shehu Shagari
Vice President of Nigeria
In office
29 July 1975 – 13 February 1976
President Murtala Mohammed
Preceded by Joseph Edet Akinwale
Succeeded by Shehu Musa Yar'Adua
3rd Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
5 December 2003 – 25 November 2005
Head Elizabeth II
Preceded by John Howard
Succeeded by Lawrence Gonzi
Personal details
Born (1938-03-05) 5 March 1938 (age 76)
Abeokuta, Ogun State, Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria
Nationality Nigerian
Political party People's Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Esther Oluremi Obasanjo (ex-wife; 1963-?), Lynda Obasanjo (ex-wife, deceased), Stella Obasanjo (deceased)
Alma mater Defence Services Staff College
Religion Christianity[1]
Military service
Service/branch Nigerian Army
Years of service 1958 - 1979
Rank Lieutenant General

Oluṣẹgun Mathew Okikiọla Arẹmu Ọbasanjọ, GCFR[2] (/ˈbɑːsən/; Yoruba: Ọlúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́ [olúʃɛ̙́ɡũ ɒ̙básandʒɒ̙́];[3] born circa 5 March 1938) is a former Nigerian Army general who was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. A Nigerian of Yoruba descent, Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation's head of state, 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.

His current home is Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun State, where he is a nobleman as the holder of the chieftaincy titles of the Balogun of the Owu Lineage and the Ekerin Balogun of the Egba clan of Yorubaland.

Family and early life[edit]

Ọbasanjọ was born in Ogun State;[4] and grew up in Owu (Abeokuta). His first name, Olusegun, means "The Lord is victorious".[5]

The Oloye Obasanjo's first wife, Mrs. Oluremi (Remi) Obasanjo, is the mother of his oldest children, the most well-known being Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, a former Senator of Ogun State.

In 1987, his second wife/ex-wife Lynda was ordered out of her car by armed men, but was fatally shot for failing to move quickly.[6]

On 23 October 2005 the President lost his wife, Stella Obasanjo, First Lady of Nigeria the day after she had a 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.[7] Obasanjo has many children, who live throughout Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States.[8]

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

Career[edit]

As a young man of 21, he enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958. He trained at Aldershot, and was commissioned as an officer in the Nigerian Army. He was also trained in India at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and at the Indian Army School of Engineering.[9][10] He served at 1 Area Command in Kaduna. Promoted to Chief Army Engineer, he was made commander of 2 Area Command from July 1967, which was redesignated 2 Division Rear, and then the Ibadan Garrison Organisation.[11] He was also trained in DSSC, Wellington. During the Nigerian Civil War, he commanded the Army's 3 Marine Commando Division that took Owerri, effectively bringing an end to the civil war.

Obasanjo in 1978

Although Brig. Ọbasanjọ did not participate in the military coup of 29 July 1975, led by Murtala Mohammed, he supported it and was named Murtala's deputy in the new government. As chief of staff of Supreme Headquarters, Obasanjo sought advice from Rogerlay of Akobi and gained support of the military. 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.

With US President Jimmy Carter in Lagos, 1978

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, to return Nigeria to civilian rule.

Oil boom[edit]

The military regimes of Murtala and Obasanjo benefited from oil revenues that increased 350 percent between 1973 and 1974, when oil prices skyrocketed, to 1979, when the military stepped down. Increased 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, but revenues rebounded until mid-1981.

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.

Industry[edit]

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 government invested strongly in infrastructure from 1975 to 1980, and the number of "parastatals" — jointly government- and privately owned companies — proliferated. The Nigerian Enterprises Promotion decrees of 1972 and 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.

Obasanjo and Jimmy Carter, US President

The oil boom revenues led to a rise in per capita income, especially for the 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.

Green Revolution[edit]

The government embarked on a "Green Revolution", distributing seed and fertilliser to farmers to increase nation-wide productivity in farming.

Education[edit]

Education also expanded rapidly. At the start of the civil war, there were only five universities, but by 1975 the number had increased to thirteen, with seven more 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 education was introduced nationwide.[12]

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.[13]

Transition to democracy[edit]

Obasanjo served until 1 October 1979, when he 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 . In late 1983, however, the military seized power again, Gen Buhari and Gen Tunde Idiagbon took over while Gen. Babangida seized power from them in 1985 as head of states. Obasanjo, being in retirement, did not participate in that coup.

Later career and second presidency[edit]

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

First term[edit]

Olusẹgun Obasanjo and the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in 2005

In the 1999 elections, the first in sixteen years, he decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People's Democratic Party. Obasanjo won with 62.6% of the vote, 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. Obasanjo as referred to by some is a true hero, he fought for revolution in the country

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's Zimbabwe 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 of the 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. Obasanjo managed to survive impeachment and got renomination.

Olusẹgun Obasanjo with Donald Rumsfeld at The Pentagon

Second term[edit]

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

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.[14] Despite the fact that the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution declaring that the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the Bakassi Peninsula to be illegal Obasanjo gave the order for it to continue as planned.[15]

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 secured and spent by past corrupt officials.

Cabinet (Federal Executive Council)[edit]

Obasanjo made frequent changes to his cabinet of Federal Ministers and Ministers of State during his two terms of office, and periodically split or combined ministries. He made a major cabinet reshuffle in June 2000, and in January 2001 dissolved his cabinet, appointing Mr Mike Umealo his speech writer- who turned down the offer in favour of accepting a place at Leeds University to pursue a Post Graduate study in Philosophy.[16] In December 2004 he named 12 new ministers.[17] in June 2005 he made another major cabinet reshuffle.[18] In January 2007 a few months before leaving office he made yet another drastic overhaul.[19]

Other officials[edit]

OFFICE NAME TERM
Chief of Staff Major-General Abdullahi Mohammed (Rtd.) 1999–2007
National Security Adviser Lt. General Aliyu Mohammed (Rtd.) 1999–2006
Special Adviser on Communications Onyema Ugochukwu 1999–2006
Chief Economic Adviser and National Coordinator of NAPEP Dr. Magnus L. Kpakol 2001–2007
Press Secretary Doyin Okupe 1999–2002
  Oluremi Oyo 2002–2007
Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission Onyema Ugochukwu 2000–2004
  Samuel Edem 2005–present
Chairman, National Planning Commission Abdullahi M. Wali 2003–2007
Chairman, National Sports Commission Bala Bawa Ka'oje 2003–2007

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.[20][21] Consequently, President Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election.[22] 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.[23]

He has been condemned by some major political players during the Third Term Agenda saga. Senator Ken Nnamani, former President of the Nigerian Senate disagreed with. Nnamani 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,” Nnamani told Punch Newspaper in a report. He also insinuated that Eight Billion Naira was spent to bribe 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 N10bn. 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 about 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.”[24]

Post-presidency[edit]

He has become chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, from which position he can control 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."[25]

Obasanjo also a member of the Club de Madrid, a group of more than 80 former leaders of democratic states who are committed to strengthening democratic leadership and governance.[26]

In March 2008, Obasanjo was 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.[27]

Obasanjo is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. Every year, the Panel releases a report, the Africa Progress Report, that outlines an issue of immediate importance to the continent and suggests a set of associated policies. In 2012, the Africa Progress Report highlighted issues of Jobs, Justice, and Equity.[28] The 2013 report will outline issues relating to oil, gas, and mining in Africa.

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

AU Observation Head - President General Olusegun Obasanjo visits President Robert Mugabe -Zimbabwe General Election 2013

During the Zimbabwean election of July 2013, Obasanjo headed a delegation of African Union election observers.[29]

Chibok Girls abduction[edit]

In 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.[30]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rowland Croucher. "John Mark Ministries | Nigeria: Muslim Muscle In The North". Jmm.aaa.net.au. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Statement by Obasanjo to the United Nations" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^ With tone marking, his name is spelled Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Janice. Nigeria in Pictures. Page 71
  5. ^ "Meaning of Olusegun in". Nigerian.name. 15 December 2007. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ Blaine Harden, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, p. 283.
  7. ^ "Doctor jailed over former first lady's lipo death". Australian Broadcasting Company. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  8. ^ "Olusegun Obasanjo". Clickafrique.com. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ "Nigeria Premier trained in India as a young man". The Indian Express. 5 March 1999. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "THE BIOGRAPHY OF PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO". Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command, Heinemann, Ibadan/London/Nairobi, 1980, pp. 26-27, 35
  12. ^ "How well do you know Nigeria", Global Post[dead link]
  13. ^ Grass, Randall F. (Spring 1986). "Fela Anikulapo-Kuti: The Art of an Afrobeat Rebel". The Drama Review 30 (1): 131–148. JSTOR 1145717. 
  14. ^ UN, AGREEMENT TRANSFERRING AUTHORITY OVER BAKASSI PENINSULA FROM NIGERIA TO CAMEROON ‘TRIUMPH FOR THE RULE OF LAW’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN MESSAGE FOR CEREMONY, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11745.doc.htm
  15. ^ "Nigeria to appeal Bakassi delay". BBC News. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Nigerian President Dissolves Cabinet". People's Daily. 25 January 2001. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  17. ^ "NIGERIA - Profile - Olusegun Obasanjo". BNET. 1 Jan 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  18. ^ "As Obasanjo Reshuffles Cabinet... Ministers Under Probe for Corruption". BNW News. 14 July 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  19. ^ KABIRU YUSUF (January 11, 2007). "Obasanjo reshuffles cabinet...Swears-in 6 new ministers". Daily Triumph. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  20. ^ Bid to Allow Nigerian a Third Term Hits Snag - Washington Post. Published: 13 May 2006. Access date: 18 July 2012.
  21. ^ Nigeria Rejects Term-Limit Change in Constitution - NPR. Published 17 May 2006. Includes transcript. Accessed: 19 July 2012.
  22. ^ "President of Nigeria loses bid for a 3rd term". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  23. ^ http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/04/national-assembly-initiated-3rd-term-obasanjo/
  24. ^ http://www.punchng.com/news/obasanjo-is-a-joker-liar-he-was-behind-third-term-nnamani-others/
  25. ^ Africa's Barometer, Time Magazine.
  26. ^ http://www.clubmadrid.org/en/miembro/olusegun_obasanjo
  27. ^ "Nigerian deals 'wasted billions'". BBC News. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  28. ^ http://africaprogresspanel.org/en/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2012/
  29. ^ "Head of AU vote monitors Obasanjo arrives in Zimbabwe". Fox News. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "Obasanjo initiates contact with Boko Haram to help #BringBackOurGirls". Premium Times. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

Military offices
Preceded by
Murtala Mohammed
Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria
13 February 1976– 1 October 1979
Succeeded by
Shehu Shagari
Party political offices
Preceded by
None
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Nominee
1999 (won), 2003 (won)
Succeeded by
Umaru Yar'Adua
Political offices
Preceded by
Abdulsalami Abubakar
President of Nigeria
29 May 1999– 29 May 2007
Succeeded by
Umaru Yar'Adua
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Howard
Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Lawrence Gonzi
Preceded by
Joaquim Chissano
Chairperson of the African Union
2004–2006
Succeeded by
Denis Sassou-Nguesso