Olusegun Obasanjo became the Nigerian head of state for the first time in February 1976; until then he had been Federal Commissioner for Work and Housing in Murtala’s military government.
Keeping the chain of command established by Murtala Muhammad in place, Mr. Obasanjo pledged to continue the programme for the restoration of civilian government and to carry forward the reform programme to improve the quality of public service. In October 1977, a Constitutive Assembly was convened in order to draw a new Carta Magna, which was later approved in September 1978. This led to the abolition of the military government, the end of the state of siege which had come about with the arrival of the military regime in 1966, and the legalization of political parties.
Mr. Obasanjo served until October 1, 1979, when he handed power to Shehu Shagari, a democratically elected civilian president, becoming the first leader in Nigerian history to surrender power willingly. In the 1999 elections – the first democratic elections in sixteen years – he decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. Mr. Obasanjo won the elections and was later also re-elected in 2003. Olusegun Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 elections.