The military junta of Sani Abacha sentenced Obasanjo to life imprisonment in 1995, after he was convicted for his alleged involvement in the plot to overthrow that government.
He was released three years later, following the death of Abacha.
Delivering a keynote address titled ‘Man in Pursuit of Happiness’ at the 50th anniversary and founder’s day lecture of the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) in Lagos, Obasanjo said no man could succeed and achieve anything in life outside God. “When I was in prison, I was always bubbling with joy, because I derive joy in the presence of God.
This shows that you can be happy in spite of your situation,” he said. “So, rather than seek happiness, seek God and every other thing will fall into place. Man has been in search of happiness through position, reputation, greatness, wealth and even through atrocities.
Former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha
“All these can only produce man-made happiness that cannot last. Man lacks the ability to make himself happy and in the quest for happiness, we look in the wrong direction and places.”
Obasanjo appreciated the society for making it possible for people to have better understanding of the word of God through the many local languages that BSN had interpreted the Bible into.
Yakubu Gowon, former head of state and patron of BSN, commended the activities of the society in evangelising and promoting the word of God, saying: “It has been 50-years of noble existence and development.
It also means that more is expected in the service of Christ; don’t get tired.” Gowon urged political leaders to put God first in all their dealings for the good of the country. He also called for understanding among religious groups to promote peace in the nation. Ernest Shonekan, former Interim president of Nigeria, commended the society for propagating the word of God and encouraging more followers to lead good Christian life as well as improving literacy among citizens. Shonekan advised citizens to seek happiness by emulating Christ and showing love to their fellow man.
Felix Ohiweri, chairman of the occasion, said BSN had been able to give more understanding of the Bible and hope to the people. He urged Nigerians to seek God always, saying: “It is only God who can solve the challenges facing country.” Dare Ajiboye, general-secretary, BSN, said support and assistance from Churches and Christians, especially in helping to translate and distribute the Bible to more Nigerians, were not adequate. “BSN is not where it is supposed to be today because it is not getting adequate support,” he said. “The society has only been able to translate the Bible into 24 local languages.
It costs N40 million to translate the Bible into a local language, therefore, we need financial support. We have been able to introduce Brail Bible for the blind and Bible for the deaf and dumb in 2014.’’ The event also featured the unveiling and presentation of the Legacy Bible, which has been translated into five parallel Nigerian Languages – English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, and Efik.