Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, Ph.D. Yoruba: Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́ [olúʃɛ̙́ɡũ ɒ̙básandʒɒ̙́]; born 5 March 1937) is a former Nigerian Army general who was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation's head of state. He served 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. From July 2004 to January 2006, Obasanjo also served as Chairperson of the African Union
Olusegun Obasanjo was born on 5 March 1937 to his father Amos Adigun Obaluayesanjo "Obasanjo" Bankole and his mother Ashabi in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. His mother died in 1958 and his father died in 1959. He became an orphan at the age of 22.
In 1948, Obasanjo enrolled into Saint David Ebenezer School at Ibogun, for his primary school education. From 1952 to 1957, he attended Baptist Boys' High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, for his secondary school education
In 1958, Olusegun Obasanjo joined the Nigerian Army. Some of his studies and training includes Mons Cadet School, Aldershot, England; Royal College of Military Engineers, Chatham, England; School of Survey, Newbury, England; Indian Army School of Engineering, Poona; and the Royal College of Defence Studies, London.
Obasanjo served in the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna and in Cameroon between 1958 and 1959. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1959 and promoted to a lieutenant in 1960.
As lieutenant, Obasanjo served in the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations Force in the Congo (formerly Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1960. He later joined the then only engineering unit of the Nigerian Army and became its unit commander in 1963.
In 1963, Obasanjo was promoted to the rank of captain in the Nigerian Army. He was attached to the Indian Army Engineering School at Kirkee, India in 1965. That year, he was promoted to the rank of major.
In 1965, he attended the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India (In a book, the 40th anniversary book on the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India, 1947–1987, Col. R.D. Palsokar (retired) quoted the commandant's confidential report on the then Major Obasanjo of the 20th staff course set in 1965, as saying that he was "the best officer who was sent up till then from that country (Nigeria) to Wellington. Palsokar also stated: "He was particularly popular in all circles
On 29 July 1975, when General Murtala Mohammed took power as head of state via a military coup, Obasanjo was appointed as the chief of staff supreme headquarters. In January 1976 he was promoted to lieutenant general.
Following a failed coup by Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka in which General Murtala Mohammed was killed, Obasanjo was chosen as head of state by the supreme military council on 13 February 1976.
Obasanjo resigned as head of state and also resigned from the army on 1 October 1979, handing over power to the newly elected civilian president of Shehu Shagari
During the dictatorship of Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Obasanjo spoke out against the human rights abuses of the regime, and was imprisoned for alleged participation in an aborted coup based on testimony obtained via torture.He was released only after Abacha's sudden death on 8 June 1998. While in prison, Obasanjo became a born-again Christian.
Recollecting his experience during the trial of the coup, Obasanjo says “My saddest day was when I sat in front of a military panel set up by late former Head of State, Sani Abacha to try me over a phantom coup, and sentenced to death and later commuted to 30 years imprisonment
He became chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, with control over 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." He voluntary resigned as the chairman board of trustees of the PDP in April, 2012. Afterwards, he withdrew from political activities with PDP.
In March 2008, Obasanjo was "supposedly" 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 Obasanjo was indicted.
During the Zimbabwean election of July 2013, Obasanjo headed a delegation of African Union election observers.
On 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.
On 16 February 2015, he quit the ruling party and directed a PDP ward leader to tear his membership card during a press conference.He was later to be known as the navigator of the newly formed opposition party, the APC.
On 24 January 2018, he wrote serving President Muhammadu Buhari highlighting his areas of weakness and advising him not to run for office in 2019. To date all his letters to incumbent presidents have preceded their downfall.
On 31 January 2018, his political movement called "Coalition for Nigeria Movement" (CNM) was launched in Abuja.
On 10 May 2018, the movement adopts a political party, African Democratic Congress (ADC), to realise its dream of a new Nigeria.
Obasanjo was married four times. His wives were Esther Oluremi, Lynda (deceased), Mojiosola Adekunle (deceased), and Stella Abebe (deceased).
Obasanjo has twenty children. In alphabetical order they are: Bisoye, Biyi, Bola, Bukola, Busola, Damilola, Dare, Dayo, Deboye, Funke, Funso, Gbenga, Iyabo, Juwon, Kofo, Kunle (nephew Obasanjo adopted as a son), Olumuyiwa, Segun, Seun, and Toyosi.
His son, Dare Obasanjo, is a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft.
In 1987, his second wife/ex-wife, Lynda, was ordered out of her car by armed men, and was fatally shot for failing to move quickly.
On 23 October 2005, the President lost his wife, Stella Obasanjo, First Lady of Nigeria the day after she had an abdominoplasty in Spain. In 2009, the doctor, known only 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.
In addition to a variety of other chieftaincy titles, Obasanjo holds the titles of the Balogun of Owu and the Ekerin Balogun of the Egba clan of Yorubaland.
In December 2017, Obasanjo defended his Ph.D thesis at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). He now holds a Ph.D in Theology. That was about two years after he completed his master's degree in the same course.
Olusegun Obasanjo has received several awards and medals. In alphabetical order they include: