A picture of Olusegun Obasanjo. Source :

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is a retired Nigerian Army General who served as the Nigerian 4th Military Head of State from 1976 to 1979, and a civilian President from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo was one of the top rated Nigerian presidents in terms of influence especially due to his 2 terms as both as military and civilian President. He is also respected in Nigeria for his military service during the Nigerian Civil War. While in Africa he is considered one of the influential African leaders alive. The respect led the United Nations in appointing him as its African Special envoy in many issues such as overseeing an election.

Early Life of Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo was born on 5 March, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State. His father was Adigun Obasanjo who was said to have been a descendant of the famous Yoruba family of Balogun of the Owu. Olusegun Obasanjo attended St David School from 1948 to 1952. While from 1952 to 1956 he attended Baptist High School in Abeokuta from. While Obasanjo was a student in Baptist High School, he developed an interest and participated in scouting activities. He was even a member of the Boys Scouts in the school.

Military Career of Olusegun Obasanjo


In 1958, Olusegun Obasanjo joined the Nigerian Army while he was at the age of 21. As part of getting his military training, Obadanjo attended a six months training at Mons Officer Cadets School, Aldershot, England. He went further by attending Royal Engineers Young Officers Course at Shrivenham, England, and Indian Army School of Engineering.


In 1959, Olusegun Obasanjo was posted to the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian as a second lieutenant. In 1960, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and joined the Nigerian Army who were serving in the Congo for a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

In 1963, Obasanjo became the commander of the Engineering Unit of the Nigerian Army with a new rank of major. Later, in 1967, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant Colonel and appointed as Chief of the Nigerian Army Engineering.


In May 1967, the Nigerian Civil War broke out after the Nigerian Eastern Region declared their secession from Nigeria and called their country Republic of Biafra. During the War, Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed the Commander of the 3rd Marine Commando Division of the Nigerian Army. As a Commander, Obasanjo made a remarkable work by capturing Owerri the last most important city of the Biafrans. The capture of Owerri by the Nigerian armies led by Obasanjo marked the end of the Nigerian Civil. Obasanjo forced the surrender of the Biafran war leaders and took them to Lagos where they officially declared their surrender to the Nigerian government.

After the war, Olusegun served as the Commander of the Nigerian Army Engineering Corps and promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1972. In 1974, he was appointed the Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing under the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon.


On 29 July, 1975, a group of some army officers overthrown General Yakubu Gowon from power and appointed Brigadier General Murtala Muhammad in his place. Under the new administration of General Murtala Muhammad, Olusegun Obasanjo was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general after he became Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters of the Nigerian Army. Also, the position automatically made him second in command to the then Nigerian Head of State General Murtala Muhammad. During his work under the Murtala administration, Obasanjo was said to have been loyal to his boss and supported him in all his policies. Sadly, on 13 February, 1976, some middle ranking army officers led by Colonel Buka Dimka staged an abortive coup that claimed the life of General Murtala Muhammad. As part of the coup, Obasanjo was also to be killed, but fortunately to him, he escaped the death.

Head of State

After the assassination of General Muratala Muhammad, Olusegun Obasanjo who was the second in command succeeded him as the Nigerian 4th Military Head of State.

After Olusegun Obasanjo assumed power, he declared that his government would continue the policies of General Murtala especially the handing over power to the civilian. However, he did not follow the radical methods applied by General Murtala. For example, he restored the Nigerian allegiance to the United States.

In September 1978, Obasanjo lifted the ban on politics and in 1979 he handed over power to the newly elected Nigerian first executive president Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

Later Years and Presidency

After the handing over, Olusegun Obasanjo retired from military service and went into personal life. He became a respected man both in Nigeria and the outside world for successfully handing over power to the civilian. However, Obasanjo on the other hand became a political critics to the other governments that followed back.

During the military regime of General Sani Abacha, Olusegun Obasanjo became a major critics to the government. Thus, in 1995, he was caught and sentenced to a life imprisonment over the allegation of conspiring a coup against Abacha. During his time in the Kiri-Kiri prison, Obasanjo was said to have been tortured and tormented.

However, on 8 June, 1998, the then Nigerian Military Head of State General Sani Abacha died and was succeeded by lieutenant Abdussalam Abubakar. Not so long, Obasanjo was pardoned and released by the General Abdussalan administration.

Upon the release of Olusegun Obasanjo from the prison, he was designed and planned to be the next president by some of the Nigerian powerful elites. He became the candidate of the newly established political party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Obasanjo won the election which was contested on 27 February, 1999, and he was sworn in as the Nigerian President on 29 May, 1999.

After Obasanjo took office, many Nigerians became hopeful of enjoying a new life of freedom after suffering from different dictatorial regimes since 1979. He immediately began programs for the eradication of poverty. He also facilitated the construction of different infrastructures of which the most important was Niger Delta Development Commission.

In the carrying out of the foreign policy, Oluseugun Obasanjo maintained the stance of Nigeria as the ‘mother of Africa’. He supported many African countries with aids. For example, the Nigerian government under Olusegun Obasanjo have played a major role in the peace settlement during the political crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone. On the part of relationship with the western powers, Olusegun Obasanjo restored the Nigerian allegiance especially to the United States after the deterioration of the relationship during the regime of General Sani Abacha.

In 2003, Olusegun Obasanjo was reelected as the Nigerian President defeating Retired General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigerians People’s Party (ANPP). During the second term, the administration of Obasanjo was accused of corruption. In 2006, towards the end of his second term tenure, Obasanjo tried to went on for the third term. However, majority of the members of the National Assembly in both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted against the motion.

Life after the Presidency

Olusegun Obasanjo left the office of the Nigerian President after the end of his second term. He was succeeded by the newly elected president Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2007.

After leaving office, Olusegun Obasanjo continued to participate in the Nigerian politics especially as leader of People’s Democratic Party. However, on the eve of the 2015 Presidential Election, Obasanjo renounced his support to any political party after he tore his PDP membership card.

In the international affairs, Olusegun Obasanjo is still regarded as one of the most influential African leaders alive. Since leaving office, he remained one of the respected African intermediaries especially in the issues of protecting the western agenda. He also served as a United Nations Special Envoy to many African countries such as South Africa, Burundi, and others. For example, in 2008, he was appointed as the United Nations Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region.

Ahmad Abdullahi, BA History

My name is Ahmad Abdullahi, I was born on 10th March, 1994 in Garun-Danga Town, Gabasawa L.G., Kano State. I attended FCE Demonstration Primary School from 2002 to 2007, FCE Staff Secondary School from 2007 to 2013, and Northwest University, Kano from 2013 to 2017, where I obtained bachelor degree in History.

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