FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday, February 26, revealed how the late former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Desmond Tutu, a retired Anglican Bishop and South African human rights activist, influenced his decision to contest the 1999 presidential race, after he (Obasanjo) was released from prison.
Obasanjo made the revelation at a church service for his 80th birthday organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ogun State chapter, held at the Treasure House of God, Agbeloba, Abeokuta.
According to him, the advice of both Mandela and Tutu, among others, prompted him to go into the presidential race in 1999 which he won on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“When I came out from prison for the offence I didn’t commit and people started putting pressure on me to be Nigeria’s president, I was confused.
“But in that confusion I seek advice, not from here. I went first to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela said ‘Olu (Olusegun) whatever your instinct tells you, follow it.
“Tutu, after listening to me, said ‘are you tired of serving God and your people.’ He now said ‘my advice to you is that go and do what your people asked you to do,’” Obasanjo said.
Besides, the former president said a biblical passage helped him finally agree to run in 1999.
He said: “When I now came back, one day I was reading the book of Esther and I saw where Modecai said you are here for your people and I started changing my mind from there.”
In his speech at the church service, Adegboyega Dosunmu, the Olowu of Owu, Obasanjo’ hometown, said the former president had a purpose in life, and he had executed the purpose to the best of his ability.
“He has always followed his heart and he has good intention for Nigeria,” Dosunmu said.
Also, Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland, similarly commended to the former president’s performance as president and described Obasanjo as God’s sent for the emancipation of humans, especially in Nigeria.
Gbadebo said Obasanjo saved him from being killed during the military rule; adding that his advice was a saving grace.
At colourful ceremony attended by dignitaries from the state also included Obasanjo being conferred with hour of ‘Asiwaju Onigbago (leader of the believers) of Christians in Ogun State by the CAN.
Obasanjo had served as a military head of state in the ‘70s before he was elected Nigerian president in 1999 and re-elected in 2003. He left office in 2007 after his second term.
— Feb 27, 2017 @ 14:50 GMT