Army Career

In 1959, after completion of his military training, he was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as a Second Lieutenant and attached to British Battalions in England and in Germany. A year later, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. As a soldier, President Obasanjo held several command positions including service with the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in the Congo. In 1961, he transferred from the Infantry to the Corps of Engineering, and in 1963, was promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed Commander Engineering Corps. That year, he was elevated to the post of General Officer, commanding the Third Marine Commando Division, where he conceived and immediately launched “Operation Tail Wind” which helped to bring the debilitating Nigerian civil war to an end. He accepted the surrender of the Biafran forces in January 1970. In 1975, Chief Obasanjo was appointed Federal Commissioner for Works, and also served as Chief of Staff and second in command to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed, following the coup of 1976. After the assasination of Briadier Muhammed, he reluctantly stepped into his shoes, but refused to renege on his administration’s goals and objectives. In 1977, he formed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), organised the second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), set up the Corrupt Practice Bureau; and through his government’s efforts, independence was achieved for Angola and later Zimbabwe. In 1979 he was decorated with the highest national award, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR). To cap it off, he became the first Head of State on the African continent to ever relinquish power to a democratically elected government peacefully and voluntarily.