Olusegun Obasanjo is an elder statesman who has served Nigeria in several capacities, both as military personnel and as a civilian. You may already know he served as the military head of state and a two-term civilian president. If you are curious to know the achievements he made whilst occupying key positions in Nigeria, then read on to find out the things he did for Nigeria. We’d discuss his achievement as a military man and as a civilian leader.
What did Obasanjo do for Nigeria? His list of achievements would be discussed below:
Obasanjo’s Achievement Whilst in the Nigerian Army
Obasanjo’s time in the military saw him occupy several high-ranking positions, culminating in him becoming the military head of state from 1967 to 1979. In this section of the article, we will discuss the noteworthy things he did for Nigeria.
Obasanjo’s Achievements During the Nigerian Civil War
Obasanjo did lots of noteworthy things as a Nigerian nationalist during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War that lasted from 1967 until 1970. Three days before the fight between the Nigerian Army and Biafran separatists, on July 3, 1967, Obasanjo was posted to serve as commander of the Western State. On July 9, 1967, he blocked the roads that Biafran troops planned to use to seize the Mid-West, and subsequently Lagos. This act prevented the advance of the Biafran troops from advancing from the Niger Bridge.
On 16 May 1969, Gowon appointed Obasanjo to lead the attack on Biafra, leading him to command 35,000 to 40,000 troops stationed in Port Harcourt. Under his charge, and being at the fronts, the Nigerian Army repelled the Biafra attack on Aba, and decimated Biafran troops by half when he led the Nigerian Army to take control of Umuahia. The Operation Tail-Wind he launched on January 19 70 ultimately led the Nigerian troops to victory as the Uli airstrip was captured, leading Biafra military commander Philip Effiong to surrender.
Reintegration of Biafra into Nigeria
After the Biafran secessionist had surrendered, Gowon made Obasanjo responsible for reintegrating Biafra into Nigeria. In just four months after the war ended, he ensured the restoration of the water supply in all major towns in the war-torn region.
Obasanjo’s Achievements During the Time he was Military Head of State
As the second-in-command in the triumvirate where Murtala Muhammed was head of state, Obasanjo became head of state in 1976 following the assassination of Murtala Muhammed on February 13 of the same year.
His economic policies as head of state saw the inflation rate of Nigeria reduce from the 34% he met when assumed the position to 30% in just after a year. His regime also spent more on education, housing and agriculture. The Kano River Project, the Bakori Scheme and South Chad Irrigation Project, two hydroelectric projects, a thermal plant and Operation Feed the Nation were some of the major projects of Obasanjo.
Another major achievement of Obasanjo as military head of state was the transfer of power to civilian rule. In October 1979, Obasanjo transferred power to Shehu Shagari who the Electoral Commission announced as the winner of the 1979 presidential election, which ushered in Nigeria’s Second Republic.
Obasanjo’s Achievement as a Civilian President of Nigeria
After spending three years of the fifteen years sentence the Sani Abacha’s military regime handed Obasanjo for alleged coup plotting, he was released in June 1998 by Abdulsalami Abubakar following the death of Abacha. He joined the PDP on October 28 of the same year, emerging as the presidential candidate of the party in the February 14 primary election of 1999.
As the flagbearer of the PDP, and with Atiku Abubakar as his running mate, Olusegun got 63% of the total cast in the 1999 presidential election to become the civilian president of Nigeria. Read on to learn of Obasanjo’s achievements as civilian president of Nigeria.
Improvement of Nigeria’s International Reputation
As president, Obasanjo spent a quarter of his first term improving Nigeria’s international reputation which was tarnished by Abacha’s reign.
Expansion of the Nigeria Police Force
During Obasanjo’s regime as civilian president of Nigeria, he expanded the Nigeria Police Force to 325,000 in 2007 from the 120,000 he met in 1999. This did not lessen the police brutality and abuse that was widespread during that time.
Creation of Important Public Institutions
He also created several important institutions that still exist today. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) and National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) are some of the institutions that he introduced.
Improvement of Literacy Level in Nigeria
Obasanjo’s regime as civilian president also saw the improvement of literacy level in Nigeria, thanks to the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Program.
Privatization of Public Enterprises
When Obasanjo became president in 1999, there were 588 public enterprises that contributed to 55% of external debt. In a bid to reduce the spiraling debt from running these public enterprises, Obasanjo founded the National Council of Privatization in July 1999. Many public enterprises, except those involved in oil production, were privatized. This drastically reduced the external debts and the enhanced private investment in Nigeria created more jobs, ultimately improving the economy.
Additional Achievements of Obasanjo as Civilian President of Nigeria
Below are some additional achievements of Obasanjo:
- Obasanjo doubled the legal minimum wage in 2000
- Obasanjo ordered the Mobile Police to break up the Bakassi Boys, a vigilante group that killed an estimated 2000 people in Abia and Anambra.
- Obasanjo increased public spending on health from 0.2% of the GDP it was once to 0.4% of the GDP.
- Nigeria’s growth rate rose to 6% under Obsanjo’s regime, from the 3% growth rate he met.
- The foreign reserve of Nigeria grew from US$2 billion to US$45 billion when he left office.
- Obasanjo secured debt relief of US$18 billion from the Paris and London Club. There was an overall reduction of Nigeria’s debt stock by US$30 billion.
- Mobile communication first came into use in Nigeria during Obasanjo’s regime. This is how MTN came to be in Nigeria.