A BRIEF HISTORY OF OLUSEGUN OBASANJO PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY
Conceived in 1988, the idea to establish the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library remained just an idea until 10 years later when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo rode from prison to the State House as Nigeria’s second elected Executive President. He soon established the Office of Presidential Libraries (Libraries, Research and Documentation) with a stated mission to see the OOPL idea translated into reality.
On November 12, 2002, the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Foundation was incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation to advise, promote and encourage the establishment, growth and development of the Library, to coordinate its activities and provide support for its programmes. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees was charged with mobilising private sector interest and funding to construct, furnish, maintain, and protect the Library complex’s buildings and its holdings.
Abeokuta fought several wars with Dahomey, provoked by the city’s rise as a major trade hub for the
A primary concern for the establishment of a Presidential Library is first to acknowledge the contributions of, at any one time, the occupier of Nigeria’s most important political office. It is also generally acknowledged that, there is a gap in understanding the complex conditions that prevail or act upon important decisions leaders make when they occupy their positions. A Presidential library, with documents and other archival materials can avail researchers of important resources that may enable them arrive at accurate and objective analysis of their subjects.
The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library was established to demonstrate and deepen democracy. One essential aspect of democracy is a developed and engaged citizenry. The Presidential Library will enhance transparency and accountability and ensure that policy choices are better understood. It will clear up the myth and misconceptions that citizens hold for the office of the President and perhaps broker a more pragmatic understanding of the events of history and the person caught in its storms. For children in schools, the benefit and value of understanding the travails of a leader cannot be underestimated.
The presidential library complex is strategically located at the intersection of two major roads that lead into the city of Abeokuta from two different directions, namely, The Presidential Boulevard and The MKO Abiola Way. The first leads to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, and the second leads to Ibadan, formerly the largest city in Nigerian and West Africa. The complex’s 32 hectares lie in the immediate vicinity of the Federal High Court, the City Stadium, the Federal and State Governments’ Secretariats, a golf course and several high-brow residential estates.
The construction of the complex presented a lot of environmental and physical challenges because of the site’s unique topographical formation. Almost 47 per cent of the site is covered with outcrops of igneous granite rock formation.
The shape and outlook of the rock formations are impressive and interesting. A plateau-like formation serves as a natural helipad. Others form hillocks that create an excellent view of the entire complex and major areas of the surrounding cityscape. The site is not all rock. A swift stream empties into a small swamp and was dammed to provide water and electricity. The dam is one of the highlights of any visit to the library complex.