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Why I don’t want to be called “Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo” — former Nigerian President

The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) yesterday, awarded a doctorate in Christian Theology to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The former president is among 14, 771 persons receiving honours at the university’s seventh convocation in Abuja, Vice-Chancellor Abdallah Adamu said. The retired general is NOUN’s first Ph.D graduate.

But when PREMIUM TIMES asked Mr. Obasanjo on Saturday morning whether he would now prefer to be called “Dr. Obasanjo” in a fitting tribute to his latest academic achievement, the former leader said “No”.

He said he would prefer that people continue to address him as “Chief Obasanjo” a title he adopted after dropping the prefix “General” when he became Nigeria’s democratically elected president in 1999.
The former President holds several chieftaincy titles from across the country.

Explaining why he does not want to be described with the “Dr” title, Mr. Obasanjo said, “I think I prefer to remain as ‘Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’ to avoid confusion. My first son, Olusegun Obasanjo, holds a Ph.D in Architecture. So when you say Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, you might be referring to me or to him.
“But that my son is not yet a chief, so I am higher than him in that. If you say ‘Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’ there is no question who you are referring to. That is me, and not my son.
“There are those saying I should now be called ‘Chief Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo’. Me, I don’t know about that o. As far as I am concerned, that is too complicated.”

The NOUN VC, Prof. Adamu, had said Mr. Obasanjo might be considered for a teaching appointment in the institution.
He said in spite of being a former president, Mr. Obasanjo conducted himself properly and deservedly bagged the Ph.D degree.

“There are lessons to be learnt from Obasanjo’s feat – one is never too old to learn; Obasanjo was about 80 years when he started the programme and has finished it at 82,” Mr. Adamu said.
“Again, one is never too powerful to learn; he was the president twice and yet subjected himself to learning; learning is a humbling process.
“We will consider him for the post of a facilitator or supervisor; maybe for our Abeokuta Study Centre; we will suggest it to him.’’

Mr. Adamu said because of Mr. Obasanjo’s achievement, NOUN has received enrolment requests from other older citizens.
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