Someone Gave Obasanjo Charm for Protection, He Took It & Hit The Person's Head

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo's pastor at Owu Baptist Church, Rev. Timothy Fasipe, a retired cleric, shares some of his interesting encounters with Baba in a chat with Punch. Excerpts:

How did you meet former President Olusegun Obasanjo? 
I met Obasanjo first in 1955. I was teaching then. In the Nigerian Baptist Convention every year, we always had holiday bible school. During that period in our secondary schools, they would post pupils from Abeokuta to Sokoto, Kano, and other places for the two-week duration of the programme. In that year, they posted Onaolapo Soleye and Obasanjo to Aatan Baptist Church, Oyo. The first child of my grandmother is the wife of Soleye, more or less the father of Onaolapo Soleye.

When they posted them to Oyo, that older Soleye brought Obasanjo and the younger Soleye to live with my grandmother. Obasanjo was in the secondary school then. After the two weeks, we parted ways.

When I came back from the seminary, people were calling me to pastor their church. Owu Baptist Church (Obasanjo’s church) told one Prof. Imasogie that they were looking for a pastor for their church. They had some challenges in the church. He told them that I would be a good pastor for the church. That was how I was transferred to Owu, Obasanjo’s town. When I got there, initially they were calling me Obasanjo’s pastor because it was Obasanjo and one Deacon Odesina that went to Imasogie to request for a new pastor. The other people wanted another pastor and not me. I got to the church in 1988, that was 29 years ago.

What kind of church member was Obasanjo? 
He was a very committed member. The only challenge he had was his busy schedules. When I was at Owu, he volunteered to be the Sunday school teacher. At this period, he had served as military president. He is still a Sunday school teacher in the church he attends. Obasanjo hates church politics and gossips. If you went to him to say, “Mr. so and so said this and that about you,” he would give you a coke to drink. He would quietly leave you and call the person you came to talk to him about. While you are still drinking, the person you accused would come and meet you. He would then tell you, “Can you repeat what you said about this man?” Once Obasanjo knows you are telling lies, he won’t associate with you anymore.

I am saying this for the first time. I did not even tell Obasanjo or even my wife. I decided to go and pray with Obasanjo about his presidential ambition in 1999. When I got to Ota, the Spirit of God told me that one of the close allies of the late MKO Abiola, who was working with Obasanjo (names withheld), was evil. I could not tell Obasanjo. If I told Obasanjo that the man was evil, he would call the man in my presence and say, “my pastor said you are evil.” I told God that if the man was truly evil, He should expose him before he executes his plans. He was planted to kill Obasanjo. God exposed him and he was eventually arrested. Obasanjo then said, “I have been living with evil.” I am happy God answered my prayers.

Your predecessor was sent away at Owu Baptist Church. Is it true Obasanjo beat the pastor? 
No, he didn’t. He fears men of God and he would not do anything like that. It was even Obasanjo that helped to pacify the church members when he came to apologise to the church. The pastor was accused of diverting and misappropriating the church fund.

What role did you play at the time Obasanjo’s administration was accused by some state governors of withholding their funds? 
I visited him in Abuja when the issue was getting hot. I was in the room with him and Prof. Jerry Gana. I told him one proverb in Yoruba. I said if one wants to sell corn to a blind man, one needs to whistle so that the blind man would know that one is not eating out of his corn. I said, “When you give money to the governors and you don’t announce it, nobody would know whether you gave them money or not.” I advised him that henceforth, whenever he released the money, he should let the media publish it. When he took to my advice, the noise the governors were making went down.

Was there any advice you gave him that he did not listen to? 
During one of my trips to Abuja, I met three federal ministers at Obasanjo’s waiting room. The ministers came late but he attended to them first. When they came out, right in our presence, they started saying nonsense. One said, “Look at what he (Obasanjo) said. Will you do that one?” Another one said, “If you do it, you will be so starved that your fingers will enter a bottle.” Another one said, “Obasanjo is not ready to chop government money. But we are ready to eat something.” When they left, I went in. I did not tell him directly what the ministers said. He was just lamenting that if he knew this was how bad the situation was, he would not have accepted to be president. At that stage, it was beyond my calling to tell him how to run the government.

During the apartheid regime, Obasanjo once said they should go there with juju and fight the white people. As his pastor, do you think he is a changed man? 
When you watch boxing matches, the boxers engage in a war of words to show their strength. When he was saying they should fight (whites in South Africa) with juju, he was merely engaging in a mind game. He does not have any juju. God has given him that courage and know-how. Even now, I don’t think you can see him with any juju. I remember one time that someone brought one juju for him for protection. He used the juju to hit the person’s head. He is close to God. When you move closer to him, you would know better.