While speaking at a church service for his 80th birthday organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday, revealed how late South African President, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu, influenced him to contest the 1999 presidential race, after he (Obasanjo) was released from prison.
Obasanjo who made the revelation at the event held at the Treasure House of God, Agbeloba, Abeokuta, said the advice of the duo, among others, prompted him to go into the presidential race in 1999 when he contested for the seat to emerge Nigeria’s president.
Obasanjo, who led Nigeria both as a military and a civilian leader, said; “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.
He said further that a biblical passage helped him finally agree to run in 1999. “When I now came back, one day I was reading the book of Esther and I saw where Modekiah said you are here for your people and I started changing my mind from there,” he said .
The church programme was attended by some dignitaries including the Olowu of Owu, Obasanjo’ hometown, Adegboyega Dosumu, Alake of Egbaland, Adedotun Gbadebo, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Yetunde Onanuga; Speaker of the House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi; and House of Representative member representing Remo constituency, Ladi Adebutu.
At the end of the event, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ogun State Chapter, decorated the former president as the ‘Asiwaju Onigbago (leader of the believers)’ of Christians in Ogun State.