The InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government has appointed former President Olusegun Obasanjo co-chair of the Council at the 32nd Annual Plenary Meeting in Newport, United Kingdom Friday.
Mr. Obasanjo was a founding member of the InterAction Council, taking a leave for the years when he resumed office as President in 1999. He is the first African member to assume the chairmanship.
“I am humbled to have been elected as Co-Chair of the InterAction Council, a position that has been held by some of my great friends who were also my mentors over the years – Helmut Schmidt of Germany and the late Malcolm Fraser of Australia – and also to serve alongside my longtime friend Jean Chrétien, the former Prime Minister of Canada,” said President Obasanjo.
“We will continue the Council’s important work, but also look at some issues that are of particular concern to me, like youth engagement and employment. Africa has many problems but also great opportunities, and the IAC will look at both,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo has governed Nigeria as both the head of a military administration (1975-1979) and then again as a democratically elected civilian president (1999-2007).
He was thrust into power in Nigeria following the assassination of military ruler General Murtala Muhammed in 1976.
As deputy, he took over as head of state but committed to the restoration of civilian government in Nigeria.
His administration set up the Constitution Drafting Committee and the Constituent Assembly, introduced the N20 currency and established “Operation Feed the Nation,” which evolved into the “Green Revolution.”
In 1979, under President Obasanjo, the military stepped aside and handed power to a democratically elected president, returning Nigeria to civilian rule. He was the first head of state and government on the African continent to ever relinquish power to a democratically elected government, peacefully and voluntarily.
President Obasanjo returned to power in Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 after winning two civilian elections – 20 years after he relinquished power to civilian rule.
President Obasanjo is the author of several works, many of which were inspired by his brief false imprisonment for his alleged role in a military coup in 1995. These including Guide to Effective Prayer, The Animal Called Man (1999) and Exemplary Youth in a Difficult World (2001). In 2000, he also published his memoirs, Sermons from Prison.
President Obasanjo assumes the position of Co-Chair of the InterAction Council from Franz Vranitzky, former Chancellor of Austria (1986-1997), who served as Co-Chair from 1 July 2010 until now.
Established in 1983, the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government is an international organization whose objective is to address political, economic and social problems confronting humankind. The Council’s membership is comprised of more than thirty former heads of state who jointly develop proposals for action and submit them directly to national and international decision-makers.
In its 32-year history, the InterAction Council has been at the forefront of many prominent issues, most notably the 1997 drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, a document that counterbalances the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the 2010 Hiroshima Declaration, a powerful plea for the abolishment of nuclear weapons; and the 2012 report, The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue.