Grass to grace series (3): Obasanjo, the son of nobody who governed Africa’s most populous country 

 Grass to grace series (3): Obasanjo, the son of nobody who governed Africa’s most populous country 



In a recent interview, former President of Nigeria, Olusengu Obasanjo, reflected on his challenging early years, saying, his family’s poverty was a significant uphill battle. These shed light on his humble beginnings and the struggles he faced on his path to greatness.

The former President, was born into a humble farming family on 5th May 1937. His father’s name was Amos Adigun Obasanjo, who worked as a farmer and a church elder and his mother Ashabi in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria

 Obasanjo’s mother died in 1958 and his father died in 1959. He became an orphan at the age of 22.

In 1948, Obasanjo enrolled into Saint David Ebenezer School at Ibogun, for his primary school education. From 1952 to 1957, he attended Baptist Boys High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, for his secondary school education.

Growing up, Obasanjo faced the challenges of poverty and had to overcome various obstacles. 

He described his family’s poverty as a significant uphill battle, highlighting the difficulties they faced. Despite the hardships, Obasanjo’s determination and resilience propelled him forward, enabling him to rise above his circumstances and achieve great success in his political career. 

Obasanjo portrays himself as a ‘son of nobody’ who fought against all odds to become someone in life.

His life story is a testament to the transformative power of perseverance, as he overcame numerous challenges and discouragement. Born into a modest farming family, his journey embodies the triumph of determination over adversity.

The path to leadership was arduous, but Obasanjo’s personal experiences provided the foundation for his invaluable wisdom. 

At the age of 39, he defied expectations by becoming the Military Head of State, catapulting him to national prominence. His return to politics after a two-decade hiatus as a civilian president further exemplifies his unwavering determination.

“Stay focused and ready for challenges,” he advises the youth, acknowledging the less welcoming environment they face as aspiring young leaders. Obasanjo’s advice stems from his own journey, which began when he joined the Nigerian Army in 1958. 

With a notable aptitude for engineering, he excelled, received extensive military training globally, and played a pivotal role in resolving the civil war. Transitioning into civilian life, he authored 24 books, pursued farming, and wielded influence in politics while advocating for peace.

Obasanjo’s legacy is a subject of debate, with some heralding him as a national and continental hero, attributing to him the revitalization of the African Union and a steadfast commitment to peacemaking. 

However, others criticize him as a self-serving tyrant. Regardless of these opposing viewpoints, his humble beginnings, perseverance, and dedication exemplify the potential for positive change.

Obasanjo’s life story serves as a powerful reminder that one’s background should not restrict their aspirations. As he wisely counsels the youth, maintaining focus and embracing challenges are crucial for achieving breakthroughs in life. 

Obasanjo’s journey stands as proof that anyone, regardless of their background, has boundless potential to rise to positions of influence and bring about positive change.

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