Peter Obi caught begging Bishop Oyedepo to help win 2023 ‘religious war’
An audio obtained by a Nigerian online newspaper based in Abuja, Peoples Gazette, undercut Labour Party (LP’s) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Peter Obi’s public assertions that his campaign diligently eschewed religious tendencies.
As Nigerians prepared to head to the polls and tension peaked among politicians, Peter Gregory Obi, a major presidential candidate, mustered Christian leaders to ramp up a sectarian appeal to push him over the line, Peoples Gazette heard from a leaked conversation.
Mr Obi, the Labour Party’s standard-bearer, saw the February 25, 2023, exercise as a battle to assert the place of Christians in the country, bootstrapping his candidacy out of a polarised cycle set off by Bola Tinubu’s religiously-tinged Muslim-Muslim nomination. The election was largely a three-way race between Messrs Obi, Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president who ran again on the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party line.
Mr Obi, 61, called Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith Church (Winners’ Chapel) on the eve of the election and implored him to pass messages to Christians across the South-West — and also to those in central states like Kwara, Kogi and Niger.
“Daddy, I need you to speak to your people in the South-West and Kwara, the Christians in the South-West and Kwara,” Mr Obi said in the audio obtained by The Gazette. “This is a religious war.”
“I believe that, I believe that, I believe that,” Mr Oyedepo said.
“Like I keep saying: if this works, you people will never regret the support,” Mr Obi said with candour, adding that Christians in places like Kogi, Kwara and Niger have been difficult to penetrate.
“We look forward to God’s intervention,” Mr Oyedepo said, promising to circulate more messages to Christians on Mr Obi’s behalf.
For two days, Mr Obi did not attend to The Gazette’s calls and messages to his two available telephone lines. His media aides and allies, including Akin Osuntokun, Valentine Obienyem and Mike Ifedi, all declined comments when The Gazette sent an enquiry to them with the full audio.
Mr Ifedi said he was trying to discuss the audio with Mr Obi for a measured response, but his message did not come in before a final decision was taken to run this story.
Mr Oyedepo asked The Gazette to forward an enquiry to him by WhatsApp, but he declined comments for more than a day after messages and the audio were sent to him.
‘United and Indivisible Nigeria’
While religion has always been a dominant feature of Nigerian politics, the conversation, which lasted over four minutes, undercut Mr Obi’s public statements that his campaign was devoid of any religious undertones.
He took part in several dialogues to maintain peace and stability in the country, and was seen as a formidable path to the first Nigerian president of Igbo origin since the Civil War.
“No one should ascribe ethnic or religious colouration to the OBIdient Movement. Nigeria is one and my ambition is to become the President of a United and Indivisible Nigeria,” Mr Obi said in a statement signed by him on March 26, a month after the election, as he continued his legal push to reclaim what he described as a stolen mandate.
Mr Obi, whose aspiration spurred a historic participation of Nigerian youths in the last election, was inundated with partisan attacks about alleged ethno-religious colouration of his movement.
Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto from the Muslim-dominated northwestern flank, was among those who attacked Mr Obi’s campaign as lacking plural representation.
Mr Obi said his campaign was aimed at rescuing Nigerians from the grip of Mr Tinubu’s APC, which has ruled the country since 2015 amid widespread poverty and underdevelopment.
SOURCE: Peoples Gazette
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