Audio of a leaked phone conversation between the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi and founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, has continued to generate reaction from all sides.
In the audio which went viral, the LP candidate was heard soliciting Oyedepo’s support to help get votes from the Southwest Christians and those in Kwara, Niger and Kogi states, describing the 2023 poll as a religious war.
He said: “Daddy, I need you to speak to your people in the South-West and Kwara, the Christians in the South-West and Kwara. This is a religious war. Like I keep saying: if this works, you people will never regret the support.”
As a fact, the clip has generated opposing views from the Obi-Datti media office with one admitting the authenticity of the audio while another described it as fake.
Speaking on the issue during a live service Sunday, Oyedepo said he prayed for all the political parties that visited him during the election.
The cleric said: “Nobody had ever told me what to say in this world. No. I have never campaigned for anybody or speak on anybody’s behalf and I will not do that till I go to heaven.
“There is no party in Nigeria that was running that didn’t come to me for prayers, not one. I can’t answer the prayer, I can only pray for you.”
Nnamani blasts Obi
In the midst of all this, the chairman, Senate committee on cooperation and integration in Africa/ NEPAD, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP, Enugu East), accused Obi of introducing religion and ethnicity into The Nigeria politics.
In a statement Sunday, the former Enugu state governor who lost his return bid to the LP candidate, said after reviewing the activities of the just concluded polls, he came to a conclusion that “Peter Obi deflowered loud in decibels in Cathedrals and Holy Sepulchers.
“The Roman Catholic dominant politics Peter mastered and foisted on Anambra people when he was a Governor was a prelude to his nationwide campaigns.
“The Roman Catholic Family Trinity of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, was what Peter spread ecumenically across the Faith landscape as the Labour Party Symbol of Father, Mother and Child,” the statement said.
The former governor said “Peter’s religious war in garbs of Labour Party politics were nationalized and universalized for all Christian dominations amongst Nigerians home and abroad.
“Peter proselytised ‘do not vote for me because I am a Christian’ but the code was clear and its subliminal assimilation final.
“For his ethnic war, he spread across Igbo domiciled areas across Nigeria, specifically Markets and Shopping Malls. He picked out Christian minority areas for his campaigns in Northern and Central Nigeria. His Dual opium of Tribalism and Religious Bigotry have made National Landing to depart no more.”
Nnamani further said: “Recall that an Enugu Catholic Priest Rev Father Ejike Mbaka of Adoration crusade has publicly apologized for the partisan role the church played during the elections.
“Rev Fr Mbaka said: “The world should hear me, I’m using my name as a reverend father, a prophet and a messenger of God to apologize on behalf of the whole men of God; pastors, priests and Bishops. I’m not worthy to apologize for Bishops but I’m apologizing, let the mercy of God descend because what we did within this political moment, a lot of indescribable political brouhaha and political jingoism and a lot of atrocities we manifested by burying the power of the sacrament beneath political forces, political huffs and vultures, and they want to “vulturise” the church.
“We turned the church into campaign centres, we turned the church into a place of politicking, we messed up the alter, we defiled the alter of the most high God.
“We offended God and we started teaching the people in church where to vote and how they will do it.
“Where they drew humans, the church said it’s the father, the son and the holy spirit (the three trinity in one God). Lots of blunders that were made by taking the glory of God and giving it to mortals.
“I’m pleading for the mercy of God; I pray that God will forgive us for we have gotten it wrong this time.”
But there appears to be some moments of confusion in the Obi-Datti media team in its response to the leaked audio.
In a statement Sunday, Head Obi-Datti Media Diran Onifade, said there were ploys by the APC to de-market Obi with a view to continue to hold onto what they know does not belong to them.
Onifade said: “It appears the All Progressives Congress’ desperation to grab and retain power by foul means has refused to go away more than a month after they have grabbed the election as they planned.
“While we are toeing the constitutional path to retrieve our mandate, those who have truncated the wishes of the majority of Nigerians have recoursed to mischief and endless subterfuge to continue to hold on to what they know does not belong to them.
“From the show of shame in Port Harcourt to the drama in the Ibom Air aircraft, both of which they contrived, they have now moved to the circulation of a deep fake audio file aimed at promoting religious tension in the country.
“All these are meant to serve no other purpose than egregious mischief aimed at de-marketing Peter Obi. If the goal is to create a credibility problem, the ploy has failed woefully. Peter Obi has long been on record as the only presidential candidate who has urged.
“We will therefore like to advise our beloved Nigerian people to remain focused on the task to take back the mandate we know was freely given to Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed through legitimate means.
“That is more important than to expect those who ran election on forged credentials and even fake Bishops to stop faking. They cannot stop being fraudulent because that is who they are.”
Confirming the authenticity of the audio, however, another spokesman of the LP campaign team, Kenneth Okwonkwo, said the content of the discussion was being taken out of context.
In a statement issued Sunday in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle a few hours after Onifade’s statement, Okonkwo said: “Our attention has been drawn to the publication of this audio tape of private conversation between @PeterObi and Bishop Oyedepo. It is not surprising that these political criminals are trying to spin the conversation as if Obi was making a religious statement.
“Firstly, the context of the conversation was aptly put by Bishop Oyedepo when he said “All Nigerians have equal stake in this nation, nobody has the right to claim that he is dashing something to someone.”
“Peter Obi was simply urging the Bishop to help him push this message of equal stake of all Nigerians in the Nigerian project to his people and the Christendom because the politicians of the other party is carrying on this campaign as if it is a religious war.
“He further explained that the traditional ruler of Offa, the Olofa of Offa, who is a Muslim, advised Obi to get the support of Oyedepo and be assured of his own support. This, he said, happened during a visit to the traditional ruler.
“According to him, no Politician has ever visited the Olofa of Offa. It is clear to everybody that the APC political party that has a Presidential Candidate, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Chairman of the Party all from one religion at a time the CJN is a Muslim is the Party that has declared religious war on Nigerians and we must all rise up together to fight this unconstitutional act of religious intolerance of other religions by APC.
“I went around with Obi on campaign train and never saw him discriminate against any religion. Of course, he can’t because his Vice is a Muslim unlike APC. I resigned from APC because of their religious intolerance.
Nigerians should disregard any insinuation of religious bigots about this tape,” Okonkwo stated. (Blueprint)