Monday, March 5, 2007.
A K W A A B A
· 18 Heads of State coming
Eighteen heads of state are expected to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations. They are led by President Olusegun Obasanjo who is the Special Guest of Honour for the celebrations.
A former military ruler, President Obasanjo won presidential elections in Nigeria on February 27, 1999 with 62 per cent of the valid votes cast.
His party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), won about the same majority in the two houses of the National Assembly, state houses and the state legislature.
Obasanjo was characterized by political analysts as neither an economic nor political genius but a “safety-first” candidate with an important network of international contacts within will be useful for Nigeria.
When Obasanjo was last in office he gained international respect through his efforts to end white minority rule in South Africa and Zimbabwe, supporting neighbouring in Nigeria and abroad. A 21-years military career included serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the former Zaire and commanding Nigeria’s 30-month Biafram civil war (1967 -1970).
He became Nigeria’s military ruler between 1976 and 1979 following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammad.
Also expected is Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure, born November 4, 1948 and elected President of Mali in 2002.
President Toure had played an influential role in Malia politics since 1991.
He overthrew a military ruler, Moussa Traore in 1991, then handed power of civilian authorities the next year.
Libyan leader Muammar al Qathafi, who has led his country since 1969, is leading a 200-member delegation to the anniversary celebrations.
After overthrowing King Idris I in a coup d’etat, Colonel Gaddafi assumed leadership of the Libyan Revolution.
He has eight children seven of them male.
From the Comoro Islands comes Ahmed Abdallah Mohammed Sambi, born June 5, 1958 in Mutsamudu, Anjouan Island. He became President of The Comoros after winning the May 14, 2006 elections with 58.02 per cent of the national vote.
Popularly called Ayatollah, President Sambi was inaugurated as President of the Union of The Comoros on May 26, 2006 in what is described as the first peaceful transfer of power in the history of the Comoros.
He was educated is Islamic Studies in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The expected Heads of State also include Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe who was educated in missionary schools and received the first of his seven degrees from South Africa’s Fort Hare University.
Returning to Rhodesia in 1960 he joined Josua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) but left three years later to form the rival Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
Jailed without trial for 10 years he left Rhodesia for neighbouring Mozambique in 1974 and led the largest of the guerrilla forces fighting a protracted and bloody was against the Smith government.
After months of negotiations, the 1979 Lancaster House agreement set the seal on a Rhodesian peace deal and Mr. Mugabe returned home to a rapturous welcome from black supporters.
The next is Mr. Levy Mwanawasa, President of Zambia who belongs to a small ethnic group called the Lenje, in central Zambia, and brought up in the Copper-belt province.
In 1970, he entered the law school at the University of Zambia, from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1973.
He has been practicing as a lawyer ever since. Mr. Mwanawasa would certainly pass Napoleon’s test after once again winning disputed elections with a narrow victory.
His margin of victory has increased, gaining 43 percent of the vote against just 28 per cent in 2001 but once more, the opposition alleged fraud and the capital, Lusaka, witnessed violent clashes.
Mr. Mwanawasa, a burly-looking Lusaka lawyer and committed Christian, can point to his reputation for integrity, which he has built up over many years.
Many people who have worked with him like George Kunda, the former Chairman of the Lawyers Association, say he does not tolerate injustice in any form.
At 58, Mr. Mwanawasa is married to a fellow lawyer, Maureen, with whom he has five children.
As befits his reputation for probity, he is said to be a man of modest habits.
Thirty-nine-year-old Faure Gnassingbe is leading a delegation from Togo where he was installed by the military as president in February 2005 when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died.
Like his father – one of Africa’s longest serving leaders – Mr. Faure is a man of very few words.
But he does have the fierce loyalty of the West African country’s well-organised and well-equipped military, says the BBC’s Ebow Godwin.
Born in 1966 to a mother who hails from Atakpame in central Togo, he was one of Eyadema’s many sons; and according to journalist Andrew Manley, seen as the most level-headed.
The new leader – who looks very much like his father, except for a moustache – is a private, solemn man who rarely speaks in public.
Mr. Faure shares some of his father’s characteristics, including his looks.
Unlike his father, who led a military coup as a young sergeant in 1967, Mr. Faure has more of a background in business.
He studied at France’s Sorbonne University and has an MBA from the George Washington University in the United States.
He is a relative newcomer to politics, entering the political fray in June 2002, when he won a seat in parliamentary elections as a candidate of the ruling Togo People’s Rally (RPT) in Blitta constituency in Central Togo.
From neighbouring Burkina Faso comes President Blaise Campaore, a former military leader, who won a third successive term in presidential elections in November 2005. Poll officials said he and taken more than 80 per cent of the vote. He was one of 12 candidates.
Born in 1950 and trained as a soldier in Cameroon and Morocco, Blaise Compaore served under Thomas Sandara as Minister of State to the Presidency, before deposing and executing him in 1987.
He disarmed local militias and, despite his reputed left-wing leanings, embarked on a programme of privatization and austerity measures sponsored by the International Monetary Fund. After officially rejected socialism he was elected president unopposed in 1991.
From Central Africa comes President Paul Biya who has been the President of Cameroon since 1982.
Born on February 13, 1933 in the village of Mvomeka’s in Cameroon he studied at The Sorbonne and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris in Paris, France. HE graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor’s Degree in public law and a diploma in international relations.
After graduating, Biya returned to Cameroon and worked in the government. In 1975, the President Ahmadou Ahidjo gave the job of Prime Minister to Biya. When President Ahidjo resigned on November 6, 1982, Biya became President of the country.
Biya was elected as the President of Cameroun in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1997 and 2004.
Daily Graphic - Monday, March 5, 2007 Page: 5