Olusegun Obasanjo is a former President of Nigeria. He served for two successive terms from 1976-1979 and 1999-2007.
Mr. Obasanjo became the Nigerian Head of State for the first time in February 1976 following the assassination of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed – Mr. Obasanjo was until then Federal Commissioner for Work and Housing in Murtala’s military government.
Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala Muhammad in place, Mr. Obasanjo pledged to continue the programme for the restoration of civilian government and to carry forward the reform programme to improve the quality of public service. In October 1977, a Constitutive Assembly was convened in order to draw a new Carta Magna, which was later approved in September 1978. This led to the abolition of the military government, the end of the state of siege which had come about with the arrival of the military regime in 1966, and the legalization of political parties.
Mr. Obasanjo served until October 1, 1979, when he handed power to Shehu Shagari, a democratically elected civilian President, becoming the first leader in Nigerian history to surrender power willingly. In late 1983, however, the military seized power again. Mr. Obasanjo, being in retirement, did not participate in that coup, nor did he support it.
During the dictatorship of Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Mr. Obasanjo spoke out against the human rights abuses of the regime, and was imprisoned with the claim of planning a coup. He was released only after Abacha's sudden death on 8 June 1998.
In the 1999 elections – the first democratic elections in sixteen years – he decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People's Democratic Party, PDP. President Obasanjo won the elections and was later also re-elected in 2003. Within the period of his presidency, he played an instrumental role in bringing democracy back to the country. While leading a public campaign against corruption and implementing economic reforms in his country, he has been widely seen abroad as an African statesman championing debt relief and democratic institutions. He stepped down after the April 2007 elections won by Umaru Yar’Adua.
He was Chairperson of the African Union from July 2004 to January 2006. He has at different times served as Chairman of the Group of 77, Chairman of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Chairman of the African Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee on NEPAD, and served on the African Progress Panel to monitor and promote Africa‘s development. He was also involved in international mediation efforts in Namibia, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique and Burundi. In 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed President Obasanjo as his Special Envoy on the Great Lakes. And he has also been overseeing or consulted on the democratic elections of countries across the African continent especially on behalf of the African Union and ECOWAS.
He is Co-Chair of InterAction Council. The Council was established in 1983 as an independent international organization to mobilise the experience, energy and international contacts of a group of statesmen who have held the highest office in their own countries. Council members jointly develop recommendations and practical solutions for the political, economic and social problems confronting humanity. The Council is unique in bringing together on a regular basis, and in an informal setting, more than thirty former Heads of State or government. Serving in their individual capacities, the Council aims at fostering international co-operation and action in three priority areas: peace and security; world economic revitalization, and universal ethical standards.
President Obasanjo is the Chief Promoter of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), a unique project located in President Obasanjo’s hometown of Abeokuta, Southwest Nigeria, conceived in the mould of the American Presidential Libraries. OOPL remains the first of its kind in Nigeria and the first of such presidential libraries in the whole of the African continent. It provides 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.
President Obasanjo is currently the Chair of the Africa Progress Group (APG) now domesticated in Nigeria and hosted at the OOPL, and a successor to Africa Progress Panel originally located in Geneva under the auspices of the late Kofi Annan and Kofi Annan Foundation.