The Labour Party candidate in the February 25 presidential election, Mr Peter Obi has gone silent online since his telephone conversation with Bishop David Oyedepo was leaked, leading to a ‘religious war’ scandal.
Oyedepo is the founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, and presiding Bishop of the Faith Tabernacle in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.
SaharaReporters observed that since the leaked phone conversation was published by an online newspaper, Peoples Gazette on Saturday, Obi has not tweeted or made any public appearance. His last tweet was posted on March 31, 2023. His last posts on Facebook and Instagram were also made last week.
SaharaReporters observed that the former governor has also not been visible in public since the scandal broke following the leaked phone conversation.
In the leaked phone conversation, Oyedepo prayed for Obi saying, “In Jesus’ name, we are going to get a bright tomorrow,” with Obi replying by saying, “When I hear these prayers, it is very dear to me and like I keep saying, if this thing works, you people will never regret the support.”
Continuing the conversation, Oyedepo said, “We look forward to God’s intervention,” to which Obi responded by saying, “Thank you, Daddy. I need you to speak to your people in the Southwest and Kwara. The Christians in the Southwest and Kwara.” Bishop Oyedepo said: “Okay.”
Obi continued by saying, “This is a religious war,” with Oyedepo responding immediately, “I believe you, I believe that. You know, I did a release, ‘Nigeria going forward’ and I’m coming out with the second one today.”
A spokesperson for the party’s presidential campaign council, Kenneth Okonkwo, has since confirmed the audio to be authentic.
Okonkwo, however, put the blame on the APC for fielding a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket and having Muslims occupy key positions in its government.
Okonkwo, who described the leaked audio as a private conversation, said, “Our attention has been drawn to the publication of this audio tape of private conversation between @peterobigregory 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”.
“His Excellency 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.
“To drive home this point, he informed him that he visited the traditional ruler of Offa, the Olofa of Offa, who is a Muslim but who advised Obi to get the support of Oyedepo and be assured of his own support. 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 the 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.”
Responding in a tweet to insults hurled at him by Obi’s supporters, who identify as ‘Obidients’, Okonkwo later said, “This love is mutual. I love you all from my heart. To all who has a different opinion from my submission be assured of my love too. Honesty is the best policy.”
Although Obi’s media aide accepted that the former governor made the call, he said the conversation was edited to suit a narrative allegedly being pushed by the All Progressives Congress, to sow seeds of discord among Nigerians in other to continue to hold them under subjugation.
According to Obi’s media assistant, Valentine Obienyem, the phone conversation was badly doctored and left out some other things that Obi said like “in a society like ours, religious balancing was a necessary consideration and that their recklessness (referring to APC) had made Christians to assume it was a religious war.”
He said the Labour Party’s camp knows the person who leaked the phone conversation between Obi and the cleric.
He stated: “I heard they set up a Committee made up of some people from National Communications Commission, headed by our prodigal brother from Nnewi.
“They are reviewing all calls Obi made in the last three years, and especially now to see if he mentioned Interim Government or anything that will make them prosecute him for treason when and if they take over.”
“Till now, they are yet to see any. The badly doctored conservation with Bishop Oyedepo released by our Nnewi prodigal brother is the much they have discovered so far.
“They edited out the Muslim-Muslim ticket that led to the discussion, where Obi said that in a society like ours, religious balancing was a necessary consideration and that their recklessness had made Christians to assume it was a religious war,” he added.