Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday said he once refused to use government’s fund to complete a Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) building in Abuja.
The former President spoke during the Book Launch and 85th Birthday of Eminence Prelate Sunday Mbang of the Methodist Church Nigeria and a former CAN President held at the Admiralty Centre, Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
Obasanjo, who was the Convener of the programme in honour of Mbang, described him as a lover of Nigeria.
The book, a memoir, chronicling the journey of the octogenarian, is titled, ‘My Life and Times.’
Obasanjo recalled how he resisted pressure from Mbang to complete the CAN building then.
“He (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, ‘No, 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.
“But he insisted. Again, persistence. 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.”
Obasanjo also recalled how “pressure” was mounted on him in 1999 to contest as President after he was released from prison and how he met the then CAN President.
“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. When 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’”
He said though the cleric might not had voted for him but he won the election.
“As the President of CAN and me, 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.”