Olusegun Obasanjo, former President, has narrated how fasting and prayer saved him from Sani Abacha, the late head of State, whose killer squad allegedly poisoned the late Shehu Yar’Adua and MKO Abiola while in prison.
Obasanjo said that while in prison, he fasted on three occasions for seven days, tasting neither food nor water, and perhaps, as a result, his life was spared.
He said people had told him that Abacha had vowed that he, Yar’Adua and Abiola would not make it out of prison alive, but he was saved by God, perhaps in order to serve Nigeria.
“Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself, Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive,” Punch quoted him as saying at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter, on Saturday.
“So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose; and therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing, serve God, then so be it.
Obasanjo said that Abacha’s government failed “because he left God out of his plan”, adding that “there is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution.”
He said he was taken to a house in Ikoyi, Lagos after he was first arrested, and he spent three months in solitary confinement there. It took the intervention of notable world leaders, including Jimmy Carter, former US President, and Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe, who all came to plead with Abacha, before he was released.
Eventually, Obasanjo said he was court-martialed and sent to Prison together with Yar’adua.
“I must say that, that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined.
“I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.
“I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.”
Obasanjo said that he was later transferred to Yola prison, which is far worse than the Jos facility, because the authorities at the time felt he was becoming popular in Jos as a result of the number of people that came to visit him.
“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned,” he continued.
“So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me.
“The man who took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos, said, ‘We know you have problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem of cholesterol’.
“So, I refused him touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”
In Yola, Obasanjo said God saved his life through a doctor and a specialist who were called to treat him.
He said: “The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me.
“The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything’.
“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you’.
“That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result?’ The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja’. I haven’t heard the result till today.”
Obasanjo said while in prison, he developed a closer relationship with God as he would always pray and fast.
“On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God,” he said.
“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that. I say to people that God has never let me alone or disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”