He is no doubt a force to be reckoned with in Nigeria and beyond. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is one of the most respected and influential leaders in the country and on the African continent.
Described by many as one of the luckiest Nigerians, as he had the privilege of leading the country twice – first as a military head of state and later as an elected president, he did his best to better a lot of Nigerians while in office.
More than 14 years after leaving office, the 84-year-old elder statesman still commands respect from many Nigerians because the positive impact of his leadership has not stopped reverberating. Some of his notable contributions to national development are highlighted below.
Today, the country is able to join the growing number of countries rolling out 5G network, the latest advancement in wireless technology, because the Obasanjo administration laid the foundation 20 years ago by kick-starting the Global System for Mobile Communications revolution.
The National President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, was quoted in an October 16, 2021 report by PUNCH as saying, “GSM has been a blessing and this was brought about by the Obasanjo administration; he blazed the trail and gave us GSM to align with the rest of the world. That was something commendable and we should continue to appreciate him for this.”
Another remarkable feat the Obasanjo-led government achieved was the debt relief he secured for Nigeria. He was relentless and undaunted in his efforts to tackle the country’s external debt burden of about $36 billion, most of which was owed to the Paris Club creditors. In October 2015, Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $18 billion and an overall reduction of Nigeria’s debt stock by $30 billion. The deal was completed on April 21, 2006, when Nigeria made its final payment and its books were cleared of any Paris Club debt, according to the Center for Global Development.
Obasanjo, in his address to the nation on June 30, 2005, said, “This debt relief offered to us, I am pleased and proud to say, is the direct product of our relentless and persistent endeavor over the past six years.”
A few months ago, the country celebrated the passage of the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill, which seeks to reform the oil and gas industry.
It is worthy of note that the reform efforts started in April 2000, when Obasanjo inaugurated the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee, with a mandate to review and streamline all petroleum laws and advise on establishing a regulatory framework for the sector.
Out of office, Obasanjo has continued to show his commitment to the country’s development in word and deed. He has written at least a letter to every president after him, voicing his concerns about critical national issues.
Love him or loathe him, Obasanjo has distinguished himself as one of Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s, living legends.