5 facts about this Nigerian leader as he turns 81
Olusegun Obasanjo is one of Nigeria's most influential men. Know more about the statesman as he turns 81 on March 5, 2018.
In the history of Nigeria, Obasanjo has played key roles, from the numerous military coups to the return to democratic rule by the turn of the millennium.
To say, Olusegun Obasanjo is a famous Nigerian is an understatement. The military ruler turned democratically elected president is a political giant whose actions and statements still matter.
On the birthday of this grand old Nigerian, we have pulled out 5 facts about him;
1) He is the first man to rule Nigeria twice, first in 1976 as a military ruler and in 1999 as a democratically elected President.
On May 29, 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as the President of Nigeria after winning the general elections, the first in 16 years, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. During his inaugural speech, Obasanjo said "we must change our ways of governance and of doing business on this eve of the coming millennium. This we must do to ensure progress, justice, harmony and unity and above all, to rekindle confidence amongst our people. Confidence that their conditions will rapidly improve and that Nigeria will be great and will become a major world player in the near future."
2. In 1979, he became the first Nigerian military ruler to hand over power to a civilian government.
Olusegun Obasanjo is in the history books for peacefully handing over to a civilian regime led by Shehu Shagari. Obasanjo only used three years in power. He is the only military leader who kept his word to hold elections and handover to a civilian government.
3. In 2005, Olusegun Obasanjo became the first Nigerian leader to lose his first lady. Stella Obasanjo died in Spain during a botched liposuction procedure.
Incidentally, Olusegun Obasanjo has lost two wives to death namely; Lynda and Mojiosola Adekunle. The former head of state now lives with his present wife Bola Alice.
4. Three days after calling for a ceasefire, the Biafran forces surrendered to Olusegun Obasanjo on January 12, 1970.
On January 7, 1970 Olusegun Obasanjo oversaw the final military operation against Biafra. Known as Operation Tail-Wind, OBJ led the 3rd Marine Commando Division to crush the last defence of the Biafrans. The operation proved to be successful. On January's 9, Ojukwu who led the Biafra rebellion fled for Ivory Coast. Three days later Biafra officially surrendered to Nigeria.
5. Olusegun Obasanjo is the first Nigerian president to complete two terms 1999-2007 without the interruption of a military coup.
During his tenure as president, Olusegun Obasanjo established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). He was also able to get the London and Paris clubs to pardon Nigeria's debt of $18bn.
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