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About Olusegun Obasanjo

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo1958: Joined the army and received training in Nigeria and abroad. A 21-year military career included serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the former Zaire and commanding the 3rd Marine Commando Division during Nigeria's 30-month Biafran civil war (1967-70).

1975: Appointed works and housing minister, later becoming chief of staff, supreme headquarters.

1976-79 : Became Nigeria's military ruler following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammad.

1979: Presided over democratic elections, won by civilian northern politician Shehu Shagari. In doing so, Obasanjo became Nigeria's first military ruler to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian government.

1983: Shagari ousted from power, Obasanjo critical of subsequent military regimes.

1988: Founded the African Leadership Forum, based at his Otta farm.

1991: Failed in bid to become UN Secretary-General

1995: Tried for plotting coup against military leader General Sani Abacha and sentenced to life in prison. This was later commuted to 15 years after pressure from friends abroad, including South Africa's Nelson Mandela, former US President Jimmy Carter and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

1998: Released from prison after Abacha's death and returns to politics. Opinions differ on why Obasanjo decided to run for president so soon after coming out of jail. His critics saw him as a pawn of the military elite - previous military rulers visited Obasanjo as he was considering running, and supported his campaign. His supporters consider him to be independent-minded. Obasanjo himself claimed to have "found God" while in prison, which gave him the strength to run for the country again. He was reported to have said that his mission was to restore Nigeria and defeat separatism.

1999: Obasanjo won presidential elections on 27 February with 62 percent of the valid votes cast. His Party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), won about the same majority in the two houses of the National Assembly, state houses and the state legislature. Obasanjo's rival, Olu Falae of the combined Alliance for Democracy / All People's Party (AD/APP), challenged the result in court claiming that the PDP had bought votes, but lost.

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In 1958, after High School, General Obasanjo enlisted into the Nigerian Army and got trained at the Mons Officers Cadet School, Aldershot, England. He also underwent military training in the following institutions:

  • Royal College of Defence Studies, London;
  • Indian Army School of Engineering;
  • Indian Defence Staff College;
  • School of Survey, Newbury, England;
  • Royal College of Engineering;
  • Regular Officers Special Training School, Teshie, Ghana.

He was Commissioned into the Nigerian Army, 1959; He served with the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in the Congo, 1960-1961; Commander, Engineering Corps, 1963;General Officer Commanding, Third Marine Commando Division during the Nigerian Civil War; led the Division to end the war and accepted surrender of Biafran forces in January 1970; Commander, Nigerian Army Engineering Corps, 1970-1975; Federal Commissioner for Works; Served with the United Nations Peacekeeping and Housing, 1975; Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, 1975-1976; Member, Supreme Military Council, 1975-1979; Lieutenant-General, 1976 and General, 1979;

Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria and Commander-inChief of the Armed Forces, 1976-1979; he presided over the voluntary transition to civil democratic rule in 1979

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  • Member, Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues (Palme Commission), 1983-1989;

  • Member, UNESCO Commission for Peace in the Minds of Men, 1981-1987;

  • Member, WHO Commission of Experts on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1993;

  • Co-Chairman, Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on South Africa, 1985-1986;

  • Member, United Nations Panel of Eminent Persons on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, 1986;

  • Chairman, I learing on Namibia of the World Council of Churches, Washington, DC, May, 1988;

  • Member of the Inter Action Council of Former Heads of Government, 1983-present; in that context: Chairman of High Level Expert Group on Military Expenditures by Developing Countries, 1985;

  • Director, Better World Society, Washington, DC, 1987-1993;

  • Member, Board of Directors, University for Peace, Costa Rica;

  • Member, Board of Trustees, Ford Foundation, 1988- 1999; Founder and Chairman of Africa Leadership Forum and Chairman, Board of Directors, Africa Leadership Foundation, Inc., New York till 1999;

  • Publisher, Africa Forum (quarterly), 1991-1993; Member, Independent Group on Financial Development Countries (SchmidtCommission

  • Member, Independent Group on Financial Development Countries (SchmidtCommission

  • Publisher, Africa Forum (quarterly), 1991-1993;

  • Member, Independent Group on Financial Development Countries (SchmidtCommission

  • Special Advisor to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, lbadan

Nigeria MapNigeria

Official Name: Federal Republic of Nigeria  Nigeria Flag

Area: 923,768 sq. km. (356,700 sq. mi.) about the size of California, Nevada, and Arizona.
Cities: Capital --Abuja (pop. est. 100,000). Other cities --Lagos (12 million), Ibadan (5 million), Kano (1 million), Enugu (500,000).
Terrain: Ranges from southern coastal swamps to tropical forests, open woodlands, grasslands, and semidesert in the far north. The highest regions are the Jos Plateau 1,200-2,000 meters above sea level and the mountains along the border with Cameroon.
Climate: Annual rainfall ranges from 381 cm. along the coast to 64 cm. or less in the far north.

Nationality: Noun and adjective --Nigerian(s).
Population (est. 2003): 133 million.
Total fertility rate (avg. number of children per woman): 6.0.
Ethnic groups (250): Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, and Yoruba are the largest.
Religions: Muslim, Christian, indigenous African.
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, others.
Education: Attendance (secondary)--male 32%, female 27%. Literacy --39%-51%.
Health: Life expectancy --56 years.

Type: Federal republic.
Independence: October 1, 1960.
Constitution: The 1979 constitution was suspended after 1983; the May 3, 1989 constitution was never implemented; the 1999 constitution (based largely on the 1979 constitution) was promulgated by decree on May 5, 1999. The 1999 constitution came into force on May 29, 1999.
Subdivisions: 36 states plus Federal Capital Territory (Abuja); states divided into a total of 774 local government areas.
Total government expenditure: $7 billion.
Defense: 10% of 2003 budget.

GDP (2003 est.): $43 billion.
Estimated real growth rate (2003): 3.5%.
Per capita GDP (2002 est.): $290.
Inflation (2004 est.): 14%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, tin, columbite, iron ore, coal, limestone, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products --cocoa, palm oil, yams, cassava, sorghum, millet, corn, rice, livestock, groundnuts, cotton.
Industry: Types --textiles, cement, food products, footwear, metal products, lumber, beer, detergents, car assembly.
Trade (2000): Exports --$21.4 billion: petroleum (98.%), cocoa, rubber.
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