Obasanjo was married three times. First to Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo, who is the mother of his oldest children, the most well-known of them being Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, a former Senator of Ogun State.
His second marriage was to Lynda Obasanjo, who was fatally shot when armed men ordered her out of her car in 1987.
His third marriage was to Stella Obasanjo, who served as the First Lady of Nigeria. She died after a cosmetic surgery procedure in Spain in 2005.
Obasanjo other prominent children include Dare Obasanjo, a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft and Adeboye Obasanjo, a Lieutenant Colonel at the 3rd Division in Jos, Plateau State.
As a soldier, President Olusegun Obasanjo served at 1 Area Command in Kaduna. After being promoted to Chief Army Engineer, he was made commander of 2 Area Command from July 1967, which was redesignated 2 Division Rear, and then the Ibadan Garrison Organisation. He has also served with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the then Congo.
During the Nigerian Civil War, he commanded the Army’s 3 Marine Commando Division that took Owerri, effectively bringing an end to the civil war.
In 1974, Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing. After the coup of July 29, 1975, he became the second-in-command to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed as the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.
On 13 February 1976, coup plotters, led by Army Col. Dimka, marked him, Murtala and other senior military personnel for assassination. Murtala was killed during the attempted coup, but Obasanjo escaped death.
He was later appointed as head of state by the Supreme Military Council. Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala, Obasanjo pledged to continue the programme for the restoration of civilian government in 1979 and to carry forward the reform programme to improve the quality of public service.
On 1 October 1979, Obasanjo handed power to Shehu Shagari, a democratically elected civilian president, hence becoming the first military head of state to transfer power peacefully to a civilian regime in Nigeria.
Later Career and Presidency
In 1995, Obasanjo was imprisoned on fabricated charges of plotting a coup to depose General Sani Abacha. He was released only after Abacha’s sudden death on 8 June 1998. While in prison, Obasanjo became a born-again Christian.
In 1999, Ousegun Obasanjo became President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The 29th of May, 1999, the day Obasanjo took the oath of office as the first elected civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule, is now commemorated as Democracy Day. A public holiday in Nigeria.
The Olusegun Obasanjo administration initiated and executed projects that positively impacted the lives of Nigerians, irrespective of the status. They included the Poverty Eradication Program, the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission to facilitate the provision of more infrastructure and social services in the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta, Universal Basic Education and the general improvement of infrastructure.
These were aimed at changing the economic, educational and political development of deprived Nigerians.
Obasanjo was re-elected in 2003 in a landslide victory defeating General Buhari and Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.
In 2008, Obasanjo was appointed by the United Nations as a special envoy for Africa and has since overseen democratic elections on behalf of the African Union and Ecowas in countries across the continent.
Obasanjo is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), an independent authority on Africa launched in April 2007 to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The Panel launched a major report in London on Monday, June 16, 2008, entitled Africa’s Development: Promises and Prospects
Obasanjo is also a member of Club de Madrid, an independent non-profit organization created to promote democracy and change in the international community. Its members are over 100 former democratically elected Presidents and Prime Ministers from more than 60 countries.
Obasanjo was accused of being responsible for political repression. In one particular instance, the compound of Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti was raided and burned to the ground after a member of his commune was involved in an altercation with military personnel.
Fela and his family were beaten and raped and his mother, political activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was killed by being thrown from a window. Her coffin was carried to Obasanjo’s barracks as a protest against political repression.
Obasanjo was also embroiled in controversy regarding his Third Term Agenda, a plan to modify the constitution so he could serve a third, four-year term as President.
This led to political media uproar in Nigeria. The bill was not ratified by the National Assembly and consequently, President Olusegun Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election.