The latest PhD holder in town, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, may be an enigmatic personality whose politics and letter writing skills always divide public opinion. Nevertheless, there is an aspect of him about which all Nigerians, even his harshest critics, are unanimous: the indomitable quest for excellence.
In November 2006, just few months to the end of his two-term Presidency, the then President Obasanjo did the unexpected by enrolling for a postgraduate diploma programme at the National Open University (NOUN). Everyone thought it was a fluke, an attention-seeking plot by the seemingly unpredictable old soldier.
By June 2007, a month after handing over power to his successor, we learnt that Obasanjo was taking his studies seriously. From all indications, it was not a joke and Baba was in school really, working hard on his studies.
In January 2009, we learnt he graduated. Congratulations! During the convocation ceremony then, the NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, described the former President as “a shining example of how seriously a student should take his learning. Like everybody, he sat for all the examinations using anonymous matriculation numbers….”
Subsequently, in September 2014 precisely, news hit the airwaves again that Obasanjo was returning to school for his Master’s degree and PhD. His reason for doing that was stated by him: “I’m going back to school because I have to have something to aspire to in every endeavor of life.” As he told “Premium Times” further then, “I always aspire to something new in my farm. I do that in my international activities. I do it in my writing. I do it in the improvement of my academic work which helps to sharpen my brain and strengthen my faith.”
In January 2016, Obasanjo was among the graduands at the fifth convocation ceremony of NOUN. While speaking at the convocation, the Vice-Chancellor then, Prof. Vincent Tenebe, noted that “having been given admission to study MA/PhD in Christian Theology, Obasanjo will continue with his PhD fully.” Prof. Tenebe noted further that the achievement was “very unique considering his age and commitments” while remarking that the graduand, Obasanjo, made “a very good cumulative grade point.”