Engineer Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo was born on 5th March, 1937 in Ibogun, Ifo L.G.A of Ogun State. He attended Baptist Boyâ€™s High School (BBHS), Abeokuta (1952-56) before enlisting in the Nigerian Army in 1958 where his first formal training was at the Regular Officersâ€™ Special Training School, Teshi, Ghana and later at Mons Officersâ€™ Cadet School, Aldershot, England (1958-59). He further trained at the Royal College of Military Engineering, Chatham, England; School of Survey, Newbury England; Indian Defence and Royal Defence Studies, London among other Military Institutions.
Engr. Obasanjo was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as Second Lieutenant in 1959. He was attached to British Battalions in England and in Germany. In 1960, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. As a soldier, President Obasanjo held several Command positions including service with the United nations Peacekeeping Force in the then Congo. He transferred from the Infantry the Corps of Engineering in 1961. In 1963, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed Commander Engineering Corps and as usual he performed brilliantly. In1965, he was promoted to the rank of Major, heading the Engineering Unit of the Nigerian Army. Between 1967-69, he was promoted to a Lieutenant Colonel and served as Commander, Second Area Command, The Nigerian Army Commander, Second Division (Rear) and Commander, Army garrison, Ibadan, also Colonel serving in the capacity of Third Marine Commando Division, Nigerian Army. In 1970, he served as Commander the Engineering Corps. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1972, thereafter was appointed Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing in 1974 where he became the Second-in-Command to Late Brigadier Murtala Muhammed as the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters in the following year after the coup of July 29, 1975. Following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in a Military coup on February 13, 1976, General Obasanjo became Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1976-79). President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999-2007). Today, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has retired to his farm in Ota. He is currently a student of the National Open University of Nigeria, undertaking a postgraduate Diploma Course in Christian Theology.
He has over the years received numerous awards and honours which include: Member UNESCO Commission for Peace in the Minds of Men; Member, Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security (the Olaf Palme Commission, Member, WHO Committee of experts on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons, Member, Inter Action Council of former Heads of State and Government, Chairperson, High- Level Expert Group on Military Expenditures by Development Countries, Co-Chairman, Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on South Africa, Member, United Nations Panel on Eminent Person on the relationship between Disarmament and Development and a lot of others
We have catalogued a host of posts held by this distinguished Nigerian but what is of relevance this morning is how he has elevated the science, engineering, and technology profile of the country.
Mr. President Sir, here stands the original Apostle of reverse engineering in this country. He was responsible for the drive for local fabrication of capital machinery and equipment within the country through the establishment and empowerment of organizations like FIIRO, PRODA, etc as far back as the 1970s. The exercise also included the engineering of production processes based on local raw materials. To complement the effort he launched an ambitions 100 million naira Crash Programme for middle level technical manpower.
As a strategic thinker, Engr. Obasanjo stands tall and sees far and has, over the last four decades kept his gaze, not only on the drains but also at the stars. It was his bi-focal vision for national development that made him initiate and fund nuclear energy programmes in two of our universities as far back as 1977. The Energy Centres were infact, at inception, directly supervised by him from the Cabinet Office.
Engr. Obasanjoâ€™s second coming as Head of State saw expansion of these programmes into other areas. It is partly for this reason that Nigeria is now a space-faring nation and this has strategic implications for our future socio-economic development and security. The reverse engineering programme, as a result of new impetus provided by him, has also metamorphosed from conventional technology into areas of emerging technologies in biotechnology and nanoelectronics. The theatre of activity has now been enlarged from that of government research institutes and parastatals to other areas of the organized Private Sector such as the ICT and oil & Gas sectors. For example through Engr. Obasanjoâ€™s Nigerian Content Policy and Development Programme in the oil and Gas sector, Nigerians are now participating in exploration and production activities and services such as the construction of on and off-shore platforms, fabrication of subsea systems, piles, anchors, storage tanks etc.
To breath life into these programmes Obasanjo courted, recruited and enlisted the support of renowned international scientists as well as Nigerian technocrats at home and in diaspora and has now put in place a legacy which if diligently protected will, in matters of science & technology, project Nigeria into its rightful place in the league of nations.
- Local fabrication of weapons and other capital machinery and equipment