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General News of Sunday, 26 December 2021


Obasanjo mourns Desmond Tutu

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has described Desmond Tutu as “a patriotic and highly respected teacher, preacher, intercessor, and field commander of the Lord’s Army.”

The late anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner died in the early hours of Sunday. He was aged 90.

Mr Obasanjo in a condolence letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said the news of Mr Tutu’s demise got to him with the feeling of a sense of personal loss.

“It is with this same feeling that I write to commiserate with you, his family members, and the entire good people of South Africa on the passing of this great son of Africa.”

Mr Obasanjo said the late preacher symbolised one of the finest examples of how a life truly dedicated to Jesus Christ can make a difference.

“He had been a difference-maker for his family, his friends, his flock, his community, the Church, the Republic of South Africa, and, indeed, the world,” said the former president.

“Over the years, Reverend Tutu had shown focused, credible, bold, sensitive, and purposeful leadership not just to members of the Anglican Church but to all Christians. He had been part of building and strengthening the Anglican Church, and its eminent place in the Church system in South Africa today is not unrelated to his selfless service and leadership.

“Reverend Tutu was acknowledged as a leader among his peers and contemporaries. The Lord was with him and used him mightily to support and supplement his flock.”

Mr Obasanjo said the late Mr Tutu was an unparalleled visionary leader within the church with profound knowledge of the Bible and the Word, with an admirable, grasp and appreciation of history.

He was also a televangelist and a strong believer in the unity of believers worldwide as a transformational tool for development.

“He had very impressive pro-democracy credentials, and was always ready to partner with forces of justice, equity, and fairness universally. I had a personal experience of the way God used him through my relationship and association with him as a man of God. He worked very closely with us in the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group.

“His insights, understanding, and pieces of advice and suggestions on the way forward ending apartheid in South Africa were extremely valuable. He, by himself, was a consummate leader, fearless and quite daring. When most of the political leaders in South Africa were in jail, he was almost a one-man riot using both religion and Holy Bible against apartheid. He was simply like a thorn in the flesh of the white-ruled South Africa’s Nationalist Party.

“At the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, he was made the Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which laid the groundwork for an enduring and sustainable peace and development in the country, founded on the concepts and principles of human rights, equality, justice, and reconciliation.”

Mr Obasanjo expressed gratitude to the deceased for the role he played in Nigeria’s debt cancellation while he was president.

“Again, I must acknowledge his uncommon solidarity and the deep passion with which he had argued Nigeria’s case for full debt cancellation by the contents of his letter to Mr. Gordon Brown, the then United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, during my administration as the President of Nigeria,” he said.

“This heroic advocacy effort of his with respect to Nigeria’s indebtedness to the Paris Club on behalf of Nigeria was very much in his character.

“Though we are saddened by the inevitable finality of his passage, as we will miss his fiery sermons, writings, and fatherly counsel, we should be comforted by the fact that he left a good legacy behind and his memory will linger on for very long time in the minds of his admirers, friends, protégés, immediate community, congregants and, indeed, Christendom.

“He will also be remembered for his forthrightness, doggedness, dynamism, welfarism, anti-corruption, estachological discourses, courage, commitment to ethical values, uprightness, unwavering Christian testimony and purposeful leadership. He died with his head lifted high; his ministry untainted; and his integrity uncompromised.”

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