Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Shortly before Nigeria's military-annulled 12 June 1993 presidential election, self-professed prophet Theophilus Olabayo had predicted that one of the candidates, billionaire businessman Moshood Abiola, would be victorious, but would not assume office.
As election returns from most part of the federation poured in, there was no doubt that Abiola, who contested on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), had beaten his opponent, Bashir Tofa, from the Nigerian Republic Convention (NRC).
But the military government of Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida suddenly annulled the election, and Abiola never made it to the seat of power.
He died in detention in 1998.
Such predictions have earned Olabayo, founder of the Evangelical Church of Yahweh, much accolades from his followers and other Nigerians alike.
But his critics also point to many inaccurate predictions he had made in the past, including that candidate Bill Clinton would lose to then US President George Bush.
Of course, Clinton won the election.
Even then, Olabayo's annual book of predictions used to be a hot sell across the country, until he stopped publishing it some years back.
Perhaps in an attempt to stage a comeback, Olabayo recently granted a newspaper interview in which he predicted, among other things, that Nigeria's incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo will die in office and that he should forget about a second, four-year term.
The Primate, as he likes to be addressed, also said he had informed Obasanjo of what would be his fate even before he assumed office 29 May 1999.
He claimed that in the heat of the controversy generated by another pastor, Tunde Bakare of the Lagos-based Latter Rain Assembly Church, that Obasanjo would not make it to Aso Rock (Presidential Palace) after he had won the presidential elections held in February 1999, the then President-elect visited him (Olabayo) to seek his assistance.
"So, when Bakare said Obasanjo will never get there, he (Obasanjo) came to me at 1.
in my house and he wanted me to look (in my crystal ball) whether there was a bomb in that Aso Rock.
I told him, don't worry, you will be sworn in, but after that, there will be problem and after, you were going to be a sacrificial lamb," Olabayo predicted.
Asked to explain what he meant by "sacrificial lamb," he told the newspaper: "Because there is going to be a revolution that may sweep him off.
Because it will get to a stage when he (Obasanjo) will be surrounded by psychophants and corrupt people, he will not be able to go further, things will be so bad that the poor people will face the rich people.
The poor will rise against the rich and all of the corrupt people will be killed.
" On a possible Obasanjo second term, Olabayo doubted if there would even be an election in 2003, "because there will be trouble before the election.
and what will follow will kill Obasanjo and all Nigeria's past leaders from 1960.
" Apparently angered by the apocalyptic predictions, Obasanjo fired back at Olabayo, denying ever visiting his house and tagging him a "false prophet.
" In a statement issued by his spokesman, Tunji Oseni, the President urged Nigerians to be wary of false prophets, and quoted widely from the Bible to support his warning.
"Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves," Obasanjo, a self-proclaimed born-again said, quoting from Biblical book of Matthew Chapter 7 verse 15.
"The Prophets' prophesy lies in my name.
I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing and the deceit of their heart," he also quoted from Jeremiah Chapter 14 verse 14.
But will Obasanjo still run for a second term in spite of Olabayo's warning? "When the time comes, I will decide and announce my political intention regarding year 2003," the President said.
"I will do so, not because of a false prophet or any prophet for that matter, or because of any advice from the likes of Olabayo," he added.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo is widely expected to seek re-election in 2003, and several local newspapers predicted Tuesday he would announce his intentions in December 2001.
As for Olabayo, who has been linked with prophesying for past Nigerian leaders, including Gen.
Babangida and late Gen.
Sani Abacha, indications are that he would be undaunted by Obasanjo's critical reaction.
Asked during the interview if he had attempted to reach Obasanjo to personally convey his prophecy to him, he said: "I don't need him, he needs me.
I am not accountable to anybody.
Since I have been warning them and they don't take to warning, let us leave them to face the repercussion.
" By and large, the truth may lie between the prophecy and the denial, as Nigerians watch to see who between the two men will triumph.