Early life and education
Obasanjo-Bello attended Corona School in Victoria Island, Lagos, Capital School in Kaduna, and Queen’s College in Lagos. She obtained a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Ibadan in Ibadan in 1988, a masters’ degree in epidemiology from University of California, Davis in Davis, California, United States, in 1990, and a PhD in the same subject from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1994.
Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, born on 27 April 1967, is the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Oluremi Obasanjo.
Before her senatorial election, Obasanjo-Bello was Ogun State Commissioner for Health. She was elected as a Nigerian Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District of Ogun State in April 2007. She ran for re-election April 2011 on the PDP platform, but was defeated by Olugbenga Onaolapo Obadara of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), who gained 102,389 votes to Obasanjo Bello’s 56,312 for 2012.
Obasanjo-Bello was elected to the Senate on 28 April 2007 on a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform; her Action Congress (AC) opponent Remilekun Bakare challenged this outcome, but the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal upheld her victory. She was the Chairman of the Senate’s Health Committee, and a member of the Security and Intelligence, Land Transport, Science and Technology, Education, National Planning, and Inter-Parliamentary Committees. She however, lost her seat during the National Assembly Elections on 9 April 2011.
In April 2003 on the day of the general elections her car was shot at on Ifo Road in Ogun State. She was not in the car but three adults and two children in the car died. The perpetuators were never caught.
In April 2008, Obasanjo-Bello came under investigation by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) due to the investigations involving the Former Minister for Health and her minister for (state) Health, Prof. Adenike Grange, for embezzlement of public funds. The Ministry at the end of the financial year did not return all unspent funds to the government coffers. The amount was 300 million naira, which was allegedly distributed among the Minister, her minister of state and top civil servants on the Senate and House Health Committee she chairs. The Minister and her deputy were forced to resign after returning their share of the money; they were later arrested and posted bail.
Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello refused to return her portion of this money, 10 million naira. She claimed that the nine members of her committee “lobbied” for funds from the ministry they oversaw. She maintained this money was spent on a conference on capacity building some members of the health committee attended in Ghana. She has so far refused to appear before the EFCC. Although summoned, along with the minister and other civil servants, she refused to appear in court. A week later a high drama ensued when officials of the EFCC tried to arrest her at her home in the Maitama district of Abuja city, after several simultaneous stake outs by law enforcement officials that had her jumping over her fence to evade arrest by Nigerian law enforcement officers. In 2009 the case was thrown out of the High Court in Abuja as having no merit.
Obasanjo-Bello described the allegation as “blackmail”, and said she was being targeted because she was the daughter of the former President.
• She worked in Clinical Research in the US before returning to Nigeria in 2003. She was a Fellow and for 2013, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiatve. Her noted works include: Olowonyo, MT; MA Adekanmbi and Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello (2004). “Findings on the Use of Antenatal Facilities in Ogun State”. Nigerian Medical Practitioner 45 (5): 68–71. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
• Olowonyo, MT; S Oshin and Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello (2006). “Some factors associated with low birthweight in Ogun State, Nigeria”. Nigerian Medical Practitioner 49 (6): 154–157. Retrieved 22 December 2007.