My Watch Volume 3: Now and Then
“During his watch, a watchman has no sleep and no respite.” — Olusegun Obasanjo
Following in the steps of his previous memoirs, My Command and Not My Will, Olusegun Obasanjo’s My Watch is more than the story of the Obasanjo presidency told by the man himself. It is a memoir of a lifetime spent in service to country, of a man who has been destined with the watch, with the vigilance, with the responsibility to his people to speak up and speak out.
My Watch spans large expanses of time, from the pre-colonial Owu history, to early Abeokuta and the last throes of an independent city state at turn-of-the-century colonial Nigeria, to the early life of its author, his civil war experience, his stewardship of the transitional government of 1976-1979, the interregnum, his second appearance on the national scene as a civilian president on Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the completion of the first civilian-civilian transfer of government in Nigeria’s history that inaugurated the Yar’Adua presidency and signalled the end of Obasanjo’s tenure in office, and the years hence.
Presented in three volumes, this exquisitely narrated memoir, in turns intensely personal and broadly nationalistic and international, completes a trilogy of autobiographies—My Command, Not My Will, and My Watch—told by this sojourner of Nigerian and world history.
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Olusegun Obasanjo, soldier, statesman, author and farmer, born on Ifo Market Day in Ibogun-Olaogun in what was then Abeokuta Province of 1930s colonial Nigeria, joined the Nigerian Army in 1958. He served in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo between 1960-1961 and rose to become the General Officer Commanding the 3 Marine Commando Division of the Nigerian Army, which ended the 30-month Nigerian Civil War.
After the war, Obasanjo resumed his duties as the commander of the Nigerian Army Corps of Engineers. He was appointed Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Works in the Gowon Administration, and was appointed Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters—thus becoming the number 2 man in the government hierarchy—after the change of government in 1975.
Obasanjo served as Head of State of the Federal Military Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces from 1976-1979 following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in a failed putsch. He handed over to a civilian regime in 1979 and retired to private life of farming. As a statesman he was called upon by the international community, in one instance to serve as co-chair of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons' Group constituted to work on negotiated settlement for the ending of the South African Apartheid policy in 1985. He was also a candidate for the office of Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1991.
Olusegun Obasanjo, a fearless critic of bad government in Africa and particularly in Nigeria, was jailed after the "phantom coup" trial in 1995 by the Abacha Military Regime. He emerged from prison in 1998 and became a candidate for the presidency in the run-up to the military handover to a democratic civilian administration. He won the election and was sworn-in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigerian on May 29 1999.
He stepped down from the presidency in 2007 at the end of his second term and returned to his farm. He still serves the international community in several capacities. He is currently the chief promoter of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
Olusegun Obasanjo has authored several books, significant amongst them, My Command, about his experiences in the Nigerian Civil War; Not My Will, about his service to the nation as Military Head of State; This Animal Called Man, a philosophical reflection on the nature of man written during his time as a political prisoner; and Nzeogwu, about his friend and key figure in the January 1966 coup. This book, My Watch, his latest memoir, promises to join the other books as odes to a life of service to God, humanity and country.