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Obasanjo How former president has influenced Nigeria politics so far

This act of his made it possible for him to become the most influential General in Nigeria history.

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Obasanjo shows up at PDP rally in Ogun play

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo


In 1998, Ted Turner & Ford Foundation, according to Obasanjo, gave him $150,000 because he was very broke and could not pay his children's tuition after he left Abacha's prison.

Born Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo on the 5th of May 1937, Baba Shege, as he is humorously called, is a former Nigerian Army general who was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.

Before serving twice as nation’s head of state, Obasanjo was a career soldier.

And as a soldier, he served as a military ruler from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979. He was also 'Chairperson of the African Union' from July 2004 to January 2006.

Nigeria during Gen. Obasanjo's civilian rule?

As the beneficiary of the North's intention to pacify the West for Chief M.K.O Abiola's presidential mandate, Obasanjo won the 1999 elections which were the first in sixteen years.

He would spend most of his first term traveling abroad. And as a result, he succeeded in winning at least some Western support for strengthening Nigeria's nascent democracy.

In addition to the support, he also won international praise for Nigeria's role in crucial regional peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Gen. Obasanjo as Head of state play

Gen. Obasanjo as Head of state



On June 12, 2006, during his second term as president, Obasanjo signed the 'Greentree Agreement' with Cameroonian President Paul Biya.

It was this agreement that formally brought the Bakassi peninsula border dispute to a close.

Although a resolution was passed by the Nigerian Senate, declaring that the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the Bakassi Peninsula was illegal, still, Obasanjo gave the order for it to continue as agreed.

Nigeria's economy under Gen. Obasanjo

Before Obasanjo's administration, Nigeria's GDP growth was considered to be painfully slow.  And it has been so since 1987.

However, before the end of his eight years tenure, the GDP growth rate doubled from 3 per cent to 6 per cent.

In addition, Nigeria's foreign reserves rose from $2 billion to $43 billion. He was able to secure debt pardons from the Paris and London club amounting to some $18 billion and paid another $18 billion to be debt free.

It should be stated here that most of these loans were accumulated from short term trade arrears during the exchange control period.

They were not accumulated out of corruption but during a period (1982-1985) when Nigeria operated exchange control regime that vested all foreign exchange transactions on the central bank of Nigeria.

The naira exchange rate to the US dollar and other major currencies during this period was highly regulated and artificially high.

Nigerian importers paid local currency equivalent to the central bank through their local commercial banks but during the oil glut period of 1982-86 when foreign exchange was scarce, the central bank did not have enough foreign exchange to pay for current imports.

As a result of this, a short term foreign trade payment arrear was born. And this was an average of about US$3.0 billion each year.

Obasanjo and Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon play

Obasanjo and Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon


It was the beginning of 1986 that Nigeria stopped accumulating short term foreign trade payment arrears. (Source: CBN Annual Reports 1983-1986.)

However, towards the end of his second term in office, Obasanjo was entangled in controversy regarding his "Third Term Agenda".

The third term agenda was a plan to modify the constitution so he could serve a third, four-year term as President.

It was not successful, as it led to a political media uproar around the country. He would honorably step down from office after the April 2007 general election.

ALSO READ: Former President reveals shocking secrets about Abacha

How has Obasanjo influenced Nigeria politics?

A Western diplomat once said, "Obasanjo intends to sit in the passenger seat giving advice and ready to grab the wheel if Nigeria goes off course."

And this is an absolute truth.

Obasanjo was appointed or better still became chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees with control over nominations for governmental positions and even policy and strategy.

And with that control, even after his resignation as chairman in 2012, Obasanjo still plays a major role in the political circle of Nigeria.

Starting from his successor, the late Umaru Musa Yar' adua, to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and now President Buhari, not one of them would have been able to attain the office of the president without the backing of Gen. Obasanjo.

It was Obasanjo that made it possible for GEJ to succeed against Atiku Abubakar (Obasanjo's vice president) in the 2011 presidential elections.

And this claim is made valid owing to what happened in the 2015 presidential elections.

Even Gen. Buhari of all people would have to go pay homage to Obasanjo at his Otta farm, months before the 2015 elections.

GEJ taking lessons from OBJ during the PDP presidential primaries play

GEJ taking lessons from OBJ during the PDP presidential primaries


It should also be recalled that In 1999, knowing fully well of the possibility of a military coup, Obasanjo retired ninety-three top officers upon his assumption of office.

This act of his made it possible for him to become the most influential General in Nigeria history.

After all, the promoted officers that were the beneficiaries of the retirement would be left with no other choice than to pledge their undying loyalty to Baba himself.

Unarguably, Gen. Obasanjo is, globally, the most recognised Nigeria president of all time. And this is what keeps giving him an edge over others when it comes to political influence.

ALSO READ: 'There is enough cake to share,' Ex-president tells Biafra agitators





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