Olusegun Obasanjo is a former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a Nigerian Army General who has served as Head of State as a military ruler (February 1976 to October 1979).
He is from Ogun State and bears the name Olusegun which means “The Lord is Victorious”. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is seen as the most successful politician in Nigeria.
Early Life and Education
Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo GCFR was born on the 5th of March 1938 in Ogun State and grew up in Owu, Abeokuta. His parents’ names were Amos Adigun Obasanjo Bankole who is the father and Ashabi Obasanjo Bankole. Unfortunately, he became an orphan at a very young age of 22.
He attended primary school education at St David Ebenezer School Ibogun and secondary school at Baptist Boys High School (BBHS) Abeokuta. Due to his family’s low income and financial background, he was unable to continue to University.
However, today, he recently defended his Thesis at the National Open University of Nigeria NOUN to obtain a Ph.D. in Theology at 80 years of age.
After his secondary education, he joined the Nigerian army at the age of 21 years and attended six-month Mons Cadet School, Aldershot, England, after that he underwent training at Royal College of Military Engineers, Chatham, England; School of Survey, Newbury, England, Royal College of Defence Studies, London, Indian Army School of Engineering, Poona. He was then commissioned as a Nigerian Army Officer.
In his military service, he was first posted to 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna and went to Cameroon for peacekeeping missions. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army 1959 and promoted a Lieutenant in 1960.
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He was part of the Nigerian army sent to DR Congo as part of the United Nations Force. After that, in 1963, Obasanjo was promoted to the rank of captain and attached to Indian Army Engineering School, at Kirkee, India in 1965. Where he was promoted to the rank of Major.
He attended the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India and was later promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1967. At his promotion, he was appointed the commander of Second Area command of the Nigerian Army. He was made Commander, Garrison, Ibadan, Nigeria, between 1967 and 1969.
In 1969, He was appointed general officer commanding 3rd Infantry Division, Nigerian Army. During the Civil War, he was made the commander, Third Marine Commando Division, South-Eastern State which took over Owerri during the Nigerian Biafran Civil War.
While working as Commander of the Engineering Corps, Nigerian Army, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier general in 1972. In January 1975, he was appointed the Federal commissioner for works and housing by then head of state, General Yakubu Gowon and from the July 1975 coup, he became the chief of staff supreme headquarters and second-in-command to General Murtala Mohammed who took over as head of state from the successful coup.
Shortly after been promoted to lieutenant general, he narrowly escaped death from a successful coup by Col.Dimka, General Murtala Mohammed was killed in the coup.
He was later appointed as head of state by the Supreme Military Council. And decided to hand over power to civilian government. In October 1st, 1979, he resigned from his seat and the army, handing over power to Shehu Shagari who became the newly elected civilian president if Nigeria.
In 1999, he was imprisoned by General Sani Abacha after he condemned the human rights abuses of the regime, he was falsely accused of plotting a coup to depose General Sani Abacha. While in prison, he became a Christian.
After being released at the death of General Sani Abacha, he ran for president and won. On the 29th of May, he was sworn in and became the first elected civilian head of state, hence ending the military regime.
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He was re-elected in 2003, defeating his opponents Gen Buhari and Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu. However, he tried altering and amending the Nigerian Constitution to allow him to run for another tenure but was unsuccessful. During his second tenure, he had a fall-out with the Vice-president Atiku Abubakar as Atiku wanted to succeed him.
Key Facts About His Administration
- He set up the Poverty Eradication Program.
- Set up the NDDC, to further develop the oil producing areas of Niger Delta.
- Also the Universal Basic Education. He was able to significantly improve and better the Nigerian Economy, improve education and political development of deprived Nigerians during his time as president.
- While he was president of Nigeria, he served as chairperson of the African Union from 2004-2006.
- He was appointed as Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008.
- During his, he set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
- He appointed Charles Soludo as Governor of the Central Bank. This helped to consolidate Nigeria’s banking sector.
- He is internationally recognized for Nigeria’s role in crucial regional peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- His foundation, Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, is a UK based charity with a mission of advancing Human Security for All.
- It was during his tenure that Nigeria’s foreign reserves increased from $2 billion in 1999 to $43 billion. He also brought in GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) in Nigeria.
- He is a member of Club de Madrid, an independent and non-profit organization responsible for the promotion of democracy and change in the international community. This club has over 100 democratically elected former presidents and heads of state and Prime Ministers.
- Obasanjo was also among those that planned the relocation of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja, the FCT was chosen because it was not identified with any particular ethnic group.
Obasanjo has married four wives, he divorced his first wife Mrs. Esther Oluremi Obasanjo. She gave birth to Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello who is a politician and former Senator of Ogun State.
He lost three of his wives to death Lynda, Stella Abebe, and Mojisola Adekunle. Lynda Obasanjo was shot by armed men who ordered her out of her car. Stella Abebe Obasanjo who was once the Nigerian First Lady died in Spain after a cosmetic surgery procedure. Obasanjo is titled the Balogun of Owu.
Altogether, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has 20 children. Some of them include Dare Obasanjo who is a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft. There is also Adeboye Obasanjo, who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian army, 3rd Division, Jos, Plateau State.
Net worth, Business, and Properties
Obasanjo is a farmer and owner of one of the largest farms in Nigeria which have employed over 6,000 Nigerians. His poultry farm is the largest in West Africa.
This farm is located at Ota in Ogun State and is one of the major food supply in Nigeria. It is estimated to be making up to 40 million naira from sales of agricultural produce daily.
He has an oil block and is involved in over 6.5%of total major oil production, marketing and distribution in Nigeria. His position as president and head of state has allowed him to acquire much wealth.
One of his many properties is the Hilltop home in his country home and where he currently lives. The house is located in Abeokuta in a Hilltop. It is known to be made up of fifty rooms and a cinema.
It was built by an Italian firm Messrs Gitto Construzioni Generali Limited based in Abuja.
His net worth is estimated at $20.8 billion, according to Forbes.