Former president of Nigeria to close out 2009-10 Forum Speaker Series

The 2009-10 Penn State Forum Speaker Series ends on Thursday, April 29 with a presentation by former Nigerian President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo. His talk, titled "Corruption, The Greatest Single Bane of Our Society Today” will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the ballroom at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Obasanjo is a general in the Nigerian Army and a politician. He is the immediate past president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and served from 1999 - 2007. He is a retired general and was Nigeria’s military head of state from 1976 - 1979.

Obasanjo was born in Abeokuta, in the state of Ogun, but he is from Ota, also in Ogun. He enlisted into the army in 1958 at 21. He trained at Aldershot and was commissioned as an officer. Although he did not directly participate in the military coup of July 29, 1975, led by Murtala Ramat Mohammed, he was named Murtala‘s deputy in the new government. When Mohammed was assassinated in an attempted coup on February 13, 1976, Obasanjo replaced him as head of state.

In the 1999 election, the first in 16 years, Obasanjo decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. May 29, the day Obasanjo took office as the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule, is now commemorated as Democracy Day, a public holiday in Nigeria.

Obasnjo was re-elected in 2003 in a tumultuous election that had violent ethnic and religious overtones, his main opponent (fellow former military ruler General Muhammada Buhari) being a Muslim who drew his support mainly from the north. Capturing 61.8 percent of the vote, Obasanjo defeated Buhari by more than 11 million votes.

Since leading a public campaign against corruption and implementing economic reforms in his country, he has been widely seen abroad as an African statesman championing debt relief and democratic institutions (thrice rejecting government change by coup in the continent of Africa as the chairperson of the African Union.)

Co-sponsored by the Penn State Bookstore and the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the general public. Tickets for the Penn State Forum are $15. To purchase tickets for any or all of these events, contact the ID+ Office, located at 103 HUB-Robeson Building, University Park, call (814) 865-7590, or visit http://www.idcard.psu.edu/forums/ online for more information.

To suggest future Penn State Forum speakers, contact Gail Hurley, chair of the forum committee, at gah5@psu.edu, or coordinator Carol Griffin at cjg3@psu.edu.

For a complete list of the 2009-10 speakers and their bios, visit http://live.psu.edu/story/40651 online.

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Last Updated April 27, 2010