Today marks the 75th birthday of one of Nigeria’s finest.
Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo (GCFR),
Finest as a soldier, may be not so fine as a leader to a few but nevertheless there , he stands among the best.
Born in Ogun State circa 5th March 1937 and grew up in Owu (Abeokuta). He enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958. His first name, Olusegun, means “The Lord is victorious”. OBJ trained at Aldershot, and was then commissioned as an officer in the Nigerian Army.
One thing you can’t take away from this man is the Nigerianess in him, patriots never come any better. As a soldier, and a civilian his passion for Nigerian knows no limit. So strong is it that his actions often tend to zealotery.
As an Igbo man and coming a few days after the burial of the defeated Biafra leader, I may be tempted to “bad mouth” the man’s achievement but the truth remains that if it wasn’t for the gallantry and ruthlesness of the 3 marine commando division headed then by Obasanjo, the Nigerian civil war would have lasted longer than it did.
His conducts during the frenetic second half of the 60s, showed a man with the chicanery of a court jest and the shrewdness of a snake. While others got cut up in either we or them, Nigeria or Biafra, east, west, nothe or mid-west, he stayed at least, to the extend his carear would permit, neutral. Yet managing to stay in touch with the power structure of the time.
At the height of the oil boom in the late 70s, it is to his credite that despit the surplus revenue his administration still saw the need of not loosing touch with the former economic main stay of the country “agriculture”. Championed through the Green Revolution initiative and aimed at improving agricultural production. Whether or not the policy succeded, is a question with an obvious answer but for him what started as a government policy that became a reference point to his personality afterward in some way. As he has gone on to become the biggest farmer in the country.
Fearless like a thorough warrior that he is. It is this attribute that nearly brought him to a premature end when he spoke out against the late Gen. Sani Abacha. Accused of ploting against the dictactor, he was subsequently jailed and like a man who has a date with destiny he emerged from the dark dungeon of prison to the heights of the presidency.
A very hard working and dilligent man, his strenght and vigor is legendary. It became a common thing when he was in office to see him stand for hours while his aid de camp sat . Working late into the night was routine for him. All These may account for the economic improvement witnessed during his time in office. Another factor was the tremendous clout which he weilds at that international front which played a vital role in the 2002 debt cancellation.
Like all men there is always a dark spot. For my OBJ , you all can say he is an eclipse . I know a lot who think he is Extremely uncultured and vulgar, never the one to shy away from saying his mind or saying it with a coat of sweeteners even when it projects a bad image which is why phrases like “Do or Die; I de kampe; na ur Mama & Papa house jaga jaga and I de laugh” became popular.
In 2003, then president of the Nation , he asked those who do not like him, his style and/or policy to mutilate his pictures if only that will make them happy.
The Odi & Zakibiam massacre are but two but incidents that Nigerians will not easily forget for is shere babarism.
Ruthless as a soldier, ruthless as a politician, only few of his opponents ever managed to get back to their feet after a fight. A sniff of disloyalty always meant a total re- christenings
His style definitely makes Machiaveli look like a ferry tale.
Beyound OBJ the man, OBJ the principle, OBJ the schemer and OBJ the Patriot is a text book that can rival any text book in leadership.
Happy BirthDay Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo (GCFR).
Happy birthday to Naija’s greatest living statesman.
Nwachuya, Simon And Obiechina, Obiajulu Felix.
Live your Dreams : Wear your Passion