Your Excellencies, former Presidents, representatives of governments from various countries across the globe, esteemed Presidents and CEOs of national and multinational organizations, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished members of the Diaspora Friends of OBJ,Good afternoon.  Allow me to introduce myself.

I am Stephen Adeoye, born in Ibadan and a native of Oke-Aiyedun Ekiti. I’ve been residing in Germany since 1994. Today marks a special occasion as I stand before you as the founder of the “Diaspora Friends of OBJ,” to honor the legendary Chief Prof. Olusegun Matthew Okikiola Ogunboye Aremu Obasanjo.

In addition to this, as the founder and CEO of Zukunft fuer das Leben gUG (ZfL), a Germany-based social business that gave birth to the Green Leben Initiative (GLI), an integrated agriculture project consortium to leverage agriculture value chains as a tool for sustainable empowerment of economically active Africans and people of African descent falling in line with the dreams of OBJ.

As we extend our warmest wishes to Baba on his birthday, we celebrate the multitude of laurels he has earned throughout his illustrious career – a highly decorated retired army general, a three-time president of Nigeria, and the proprietor of one of the world’s largest agribusiness enclaves in Nigeria, spanning over 50,000 hectares and has been operational since 1979.

Baba’s enviable reputation extends beyond borders; he is the founding and grand patron of the globally acclaimed Nigerian in Diaspora Organization (NIDO). This organization mobilizes over 20 million Nigerians who contribute up to US$ 20 billion to the economy of the country in the form of official inward remittances.

As a visionary, Baba recognized the potential of the Nigerian diaspora and set the stage for harnessing its immense contributions. The “Diaspora Friends of OBJ”, therefore, see him not just as a patriarch or father but as a mentor, influencer, friend, missionary, and much more. It is our duty to immortalize his relentless efforts in giving the Nigerian diaspora the recognition it deserves.

The Diaspora Friends of OBJ will continue to walk in the vision of OBJ,  harness the socio-economic value of the Nigerian diaspora to bring transformative change to our dear nation. These objectives form the foundation of our organisation whose founding members consist of a diverse spectrum of individuals in the diaspora. Our plans go beyond celebrating Baba’s 87th birthday; we envision honoring him on his 88th, 89th, 90th, and even100th birthday, as long as God, the divine, desires him to be with us.

The efforts to celebrate Baba with him via Zoom owe their success to the relentless endeavours of key individuals like my cousin, Her Excellency Ms Jumoke Lawoyin, His Excellency Chief Dr. Ralph Nwosu, my business partner, brother, and friend, Mr Raphael Ofori-Adeniran, the co-founder of Green Leben Initiative, along with Hon. (Dr.) Kenneth Gbandi, the longest European diaspora leader, former President of NIDO- Europe. I say thank you.

This raises the question: What does all this have to do with Baba’s birthday or legacy?

In an interview with the Daily Post on October 11, 2016,Baba spoke about how Germany played a crucial role in securing his freedom from Abacha’s jail. He expressed gratitude to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for their vigorous campaign.

Baba, you said and I quote: “I was arrested, put in jail. I would have rotted away, but Friedrich Ebert embarked on a vigorous campaign towards my release. Forme and my family, we shall remain grateful to them.”

As a Nigerian-German, for the first time in 29 years, I am publicly revealing the role my team and I played behind the scenes in Germany from 1995 to 1998. Our campaign went beyond Baba’s release; it also prevented the deportation of 22 Nigerian political activists escaping Abacha’s persecution and seeking asylum in Germany.

My commitment to influencing Baba’s freedom and fight General Sani Abacha from Germany began when he was arrested. I knew I needed an organization. Hence, Zukunft feur das Leben (ZFL) was registered in September 1995, celebrating 30 years in September 2025. Three months after ZFL’s registration, Chief Ken Saro-Wiwawas murdered, and later, Chief Moshood Abiola faced a similar fate.

In September 1995, ZFL was contracted by the city of Hannover as an intermediary organization for immigrants and people having issues with immigration in Germany, including the 22 Nigerian political asylum seekers facing deportation. Leveraging my influence in the Nigerian Association in Niedersachsen, I advocated for their freedom against Gen. Sani Abacha’s dictatorship from July 1996 to 1998.

In March 1995, Nigerians in Niedersachsen, an organization I was also a part that sent a petition to various organizations and government leaders, including Pope John Paul, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Dr Klaus Kinkel, Max Plan Institute Germany, Friedrich Eberhard Stiftung Germany, Shell BP, Siemens AG,Continental AG, VW AG, Tyson Krupp AG, BBC world service, CNN, many Embassies, civil organizations, and foreign representatives in Germany.

This formed an indelible experience that has lived with ZfLand the Green Leben Initiative since, and it marked the motivation behind initiating the Diaspora Friends of OBJ.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude with thanking the Diaspora Friends of OBJ, initiated and founded by me and more than thirty prominent Nigerians in the diaspora to celebrate Baba´s Birthday.

Diaspora Friends of OBJ I invite you all to honour and celebrate Baba’s birthday and legacy and to continue contributing your expertise to realizing the broad objectives of the vision of OBJ.

Thank you for your attention.


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