Chief Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, ( Yoruba: Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbásanjọ́ [olúʃɛ̙́ɡũ ɒ̙básandʒɒ̙́]; born 5 March 1937) is a Nigerian military and political leader who served as military head of state from 1976 to 1979 and later as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Ideologically a Nigerian nationalist, he was a member of the People's Democratic Party. Born in the village of Ibogun-Olaogun to a farming family of the Owu branch of the Yoruba, Obasanjo was educated largely in Abeokuta. Joining the Nigerian Army, where his specialism was in engineering, he spent time assigned in the Congo, Britain, and India, rising to the rank of major. In the latter part of the 1960s he played a major role in combating Biafran separatists in the Nigerian Civil War, accepting their surrender in 1970. In 1975, Murtala Mohammed seized power in a coup and established a military junta. After Mohammed's assassination the following year, the military appointed Obasanjo as the head of the government. Following the 1979 election, Obasanjo handed over control of Nigeria to the newly elected civilian president, Shehu Shagari. In 1993, Sani Abacha seized power in a military coup. Obasanjo became an outspoken critic of the human rights abuses taking place under Abacha's administration. In response, in 1995 Obasanjo was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured; while in prison he became a born again Christian. He was released following Abacha's death in 1998. Entering electoral politics, Obasanjo became the People's Democratic Party's candidate for the 1999 presidential election, which he comfortably won. He was re-elected in the 2003 election. Influenced by Pan-Africanist ideas, he was a keen supporter of the formation of the African Union and served as its chair from 2004 to 2006. Attempts to change the constitution to abolish term limits were unsuccessful and brought criticism. In retirement, he earned a PhD in theology from the National Open University of Nigeria. Obasanjo has been described as one of the great figures of the second generation of post-colonial African leaders. He received praise both for overseeing Nigeria's transition to representative democracy in the 1970s and for his Pan-African efforts to encourage cooperation across the continent. Critics have focused on his avoidance of constitutional norms and their perception that he became too interested in power during his presidency.