Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has revealed that the founder of Cable News Network, CNN, Ted Turner and Ford Foundation both gave him the sum of $150,000 as a lifeline after he was released from prison by former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar(rtd) in 1998.
Obasanjo, who disclosed that he left prison broke, added that the money helped him to settle the tuition fees of his children and other needs at the time.
He made the revelation while sharing his prison experience at the a programme organised by Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International, CRFI, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos.
The former President said before he left Yola prison, he resolved, “to live a new life – quiet, peaceful and possibly private. But it was surprising when I got to the airport; a presidential aircraft was already waiting for me. I did not believe it. When I arrived Lagos, two cars with pilots were waiting to convey me to my residence. I held my peace.”
According to Obasanjo, after he returned home, he decided “to travel to the US for two reasons. First, I needed to see my children. When I was in prison, they could not pay their tuition. One of them was not allowed to continue because he could not pay his tuition.”
He said, “I did not have money after I returned from prison. And the experience was agonising. I did not even have money to settle their tuition and upkeep. As a father, I decided to travel first to see my children after a long time and second to encourage them, even though I did not have much with me at that time.
“To my surprise, the federal government provided me a presidential aircraft to take me to the US. I was equally surprised at the way the federal government then treated me. My transformation was so sudden. I said this is not ordinary. It is God in action.”
The former President said he travelled to the US where he visited Carter, Turner, Ford Foundation and other associates that tirelessly fought for his freedom.
Obasanjo said, “Both Carter and Turner fought hard for my release. When I got to Carter, he was happy to see me. Before we started discussing, he asked me if I had seen my friend, Ted. I said I had not seen him. He said Ted had been asking of me. He advised me to visit him before I travelled back to Nigeria. I assured him that I would visit him. He also told me about the roles Turner played to secure my release from Abacha’s claws. He said he really tried for me and that I should visit him in appreciation.