Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria, revealed why he once refused to use government’s fund to support a Christian Association (CAN) of Nigeria building in Abuja.
Obansanjo said, "Mbang asked me in his capacity as the head of the Christian Association in Nigeria that I should bring money to complete the Ecumenical Centre as they called it then, now it is known as National Christian Centre. I said I don’t have, I won’t put government money into that type of thing because if I do it for Christians, I have to do it for Muslims, I have to do it for Babalawo (traditionalist), I have to do it for Sango worshippers. No, so I refused".
The Former President added, “Mbang insisted, I had no choice to agree to now become a fundraiser for the completion of the National Christian Centre and I did. I got people together the rich, the not-so rich, the poor, the not-so poor and we raised money to complete the National Christian Centre. I don’t believe he has been given credit for that work because if he had not gone the way he did, may be that centre will still remain uncompleted till today.”
Obansanjo was the Convener of the programme in honour of Mbang, described the former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as a lover of Nigeria.
Obasanjo spoke of how he met the cleric in 1999, before his election, “I came out of prison and pressure was mounted on me to contest election as president. Initially, I resisted and I said how many presidents do you want to make out of me but the pressure continued to mount. then I caved in, wen I caved in, I decided to go round and one of those I visited was the Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, Sunday Mbang. I haven’t met him before but I made a courtesy call and I said, ‘Sir, I have come to see you’ but before I finished, he said, ‘I will not vote for you and I don’t know what you come here for’.”
“The President of CAN, a Christian, he then became my boss religiously and I became his boss politically and of necessity, we had to work together. Somehow, interest started developing. This man who will say it as it is a man that you need to have around you so that you can say it as it is,” he said.
Despite the resounding secessionist agitations as well as many local and international predictions that Nigeria is close to becoming a failed state and will soon break up, Obasanjo said Nigeria would continue to exist no matter what happens.
The former President noted that the enemies of the West African nation with over 200 million people won’t win in their agenda to see the breakup of the country. He also said the cost of staying together as a nation was cheaper than the cost of dividing Nigeria. Obasanjo said he would continue to work for the peace and progress of a united Nigeria, adding that the “many enemies” who don’t want to see the country’s continued co-existence would fail.
“We are here to honour somebody we should honour, and learn from Mbang, to show that we genuinely love and appreciate him for the service he has rendered to the Christian community in this country and world over. And to assure him that whatever happens, we will continue to work for unity, peace, security and progress of this country, I know that these are things that are dear to his heart. We want to assure you that Nigeria will continue to exist because the cost for Nigeria not to continue to exist is much more than the cost for us to make Nigeria to continue to exist". Obasanjo further said.
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