Chief Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR (born 5 March 1937) is a Nigerian politician and army leader who served as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.
He was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 1999 to 2015 and again from 2018 onwards, and he is a Nigerian nationalist by ideology.
Obasanjo was educated primarily in Abeokuta after being born within the village of Ibogun-Olaogun to a farming family of the Yoruba Owu branch.
He joined the Nigerian Military and specialized in engineering, serving within the Congo, the UK, and India before rising to the rank of general.
During the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s, he was a key figure in fighting Biafran rebels, welcoming their surrender in 1970.
In 1975, a military coup installed a junta that included Obasanjo as a member of the governing triumvirate.
The Supreme Army Council named Obasanjo as head of state after the triumvirate’s chief, Murtala Mohammed, was assassinated the following year.
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Obasanjo continued Murtala’s policies by overseeing budget cuts and elevated access to free faculty schooling.
He is increasingly aligning Nigeria with the US, and he has expressed support for groups in southern Africa that oppose white minority rule.
Obasanjo, who was committed to restoring democracy, presided over the 1979 election, during which he handed over the power of Nigeria to Shehu Shagari, a newly elected civilian president.
He then moved to Ota, Ogun, where he became a farmer, published 4 books, and participated in international efforts to resolve various African conflicts.
Sani Abacha seized power in an army coup in 1993. Despite protesting his innocence, Obasanjo was arrested and accused of being part of a plot to overthrow Abacha’s government in 1995.
He became a born again Christian while incarcerated, and providentialism had a significant influence on his subsequent worldview.
Following Abacha’s death in 1998, he was released. Involved in electoral politics, Obasanjo ran for President of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 1999 presidential election, which he easily won.
To fight pervasive racial, religious, and secessionist unrest, he depoliticized the army and enlarged the police and mobilized the army as president.
To reduce Nigeria’s spiralling debt, he withdrawn the country’s army from Sierra Leone and privatized a number of state-owned enterprises. In the 2003 election, he was re-elected.
He was a strong supporter of the African Union’s founding and served as its chair from 2004 to 2006. He was influenced by Pan-Africanist ideas.
Obasanjo’s failed efforts and amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits drew widespread criticism. He acquired a PhD in theology from Nigeria’s National Open University after retiring
Obasanjo has been known as one of the great figures of the post-colonial African leaders’ second generation.
He was praised for overseeing Nigeria’s transition to representative democracy in the 1970s as well as his Pan-African efforts to promote cooperation on the continent.
Critics stated he was corrupt, that his administrations oversaw human rights violations, and that as President, he became too involved with consolidating and retaining his personal control.
We wish him a happy Birthday.