n African Renaissance - Links of the sleeping giant to the world

Volume 6 Number 3-4
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


There are many similarities between the administrations (and the political histories) of Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar'Adua, the current president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Obasanjo was snatched from the jaws of death after he had been imprisoned by the most brutal dictator in Nigeria's history, the late General Sani Abacha. Obasanjo was freed by a cabal of retired army generals led by the ubiquitous Ibrahim Babangida, a former dictator himself. Olusegun Obasanjo became president of the country in 1999 and was in power until 2007 when he handed over to Umaru Yar'Adua. Both Obasanjo and Yar'Adua suffered dearly from atrocities of the Sani Abacha regime. Obasanjo had been imprisoned by the regime under dubious circumstances concerning a coup plot. During his incarceration, he was humiliated in every way even though he had first presided over the country as a military general between 1976 and 1979. Umaru Yar'Adua's elder brother, Musa had been Obasanjo's second-in-command during the period. After leaving office in 1979, Musa Yar'Adua went into business and did very well. Soon after, he ventured into politics until he met his untimely demise in one of the dungeons of Sani Abacha. And so Obasanjo and Umaru Yar'Adua have a great deal to agree about. However, there are also profound dissimilarities between them. Obasanjo is a Yoruba southerner of Christian faith while Yar'Adua hails from the north and is a Muslim. Within the context of the Nigerian political configuration, these differences have far-reaching consequences. Nigeria's multi-ethnic nature has often been a source of extremely divisive politics and machinations. In 1967, it led to a thirty month long civil war.

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