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His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo
President of Nigeria (1999–2007)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

 

1 PM Luncheon
The Crescent Club

Nigeria continues to grapple with the violent chaos caused by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram. A wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions are a way of life for the residents of Africa’s most populous nation. The collapse of the oil industry at the center of Nigeria’s economy has brought additional hardships as inflation has made the price of food, medicine, fuel and other vital necessities out reach for many citizens. 

None of this is new for His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo. For much of his 80 years, he has not only been a witness to his homeland’s struggles, he’s been an agent for democratic and economic change. Following years of bloody civil war and oppressive dictatorships, Obasanjo found himself unexpectedly installed as the nation’s leader following the assassination of his commanding officer and head of state, Brigadier General Murtala Ramat Mohammed, during an unsuccessful coup in 1976. 

During his service, Obasanjo established diplomatic ties with the United States and laid the groundwork for the nation’s transition to civilian rule. In an unprecedented move, he peacefully handed over power in 1979 to Nigeria’s first elected president, Shehu Shagari.

Obasanjo continued his diplomatic efforts, holding several positions at the United Nations. When General Sani Abacha seized control of Nigeria in 1993, Obasanjo became a vocal opponent of the oppressive military regime and was imprisoned in 1995. After Abacha’s death in 1998, Obasanjo was freed, and ran for president as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. He won the 1999 election with nearly 63 percent of the vote, and was elected to a second term—holding office until 2007. 

As Nigeria’s first civilian leader in 15 years, Obasanjo worked to alleviate the nation’s poverty, reduce government corruption, reform the military, and strengthen the country’s democratic system—a tall order given religious and ethnic strife fueled as Boko Haram began to establish a foothold in the region. 

Away from public office, Obasanjo remains a champion for his country. He has played a pivotal role in the African Union—helping establish the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the African Peer Review Mechanism to promote democracy and good governance. As an advocate of regional cooperation, he has been integral to the mission of the Economic Community of West African States and the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone incorporating Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. He has served as chairman of several influential organizations—including the Group of 77, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.

 

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Location: The Crescent Club
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Dallas, TX 75201
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