The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has acknowledged the private conversation between him and the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, took place.
The former Anambra governor, however, debunked describing the presidential election as a ‘religious war.’
Obi made the admission when he was featured on Arise Television as a guest on Monday night.
When asked if the phone conversation actually took place or if another propaganda aided by artificial intelligence, the politician admitted consulting with the fiery preacher but did not at any poll referred to the poll as a religious war.
He also described himself as the only non-Muslim governor, aside from erecting mosques, who has sent more people for pilgrimage in Mecca than other state leaders.
He said, “Call it whatever you want to call it. Whatever anyone wants to make of it. I am not a religious bigot. Do you think I can just pick a phone and say ‘religious war’? No, I was even begging the bishop to help me ask his people to vote, which was what I was doing for six months – begging. I wasn’t saying ‘catch him’, ‘kill him’, ‘force it’. I was even begging. That shows that I continued to look for votes by begging. There were so many things we tried to do but they were not okay.
“Let me tell you. Those who have been trying to manipulate Nigerians have been doing it. But it is coming to an end. The people they have been manipulating are dying of hunger. They will soon know who is the religious or tribal bigot. I am not one. I have just given you an example of how I built mosques. Till today, no non-Muslim governor has sent more people to Mecca than me.
“I can never say it (poll) is a religious war. Because it is not. There was a conversation. But I never said it was a religious war. What for? I am surrounded by people. If there was ever an instance where the presidential candidate and his deputy work as brothers, it is me and Datti. And I know and we never stop talking about it.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we have a presidential candidate, running mate and party chairman who were born after Nigeria’s Independence. We must save this country and he (Datti) knows my commitment to it. I can’t do all these with the background of religious war.”
The leaked phone conversation between Obi and the Winners Chapel Bishop, which has been rechristened ‘Yes Daddy’ by critics had trended on social media in the last two months.
The audio was said to have been recorded a few days before the February 25 presidential poll.
In the viral audio, the LP poster boy was heard pleading with Oyedepo to help sway the full support of Christians in the Southwest and Kwara State.
While stating that he was already working on winning votes in Kogi and Niger states, the former Anambra governor described the 2023 presidential election as a “religious war” that must be won in the purported conversation.
The preacher, on his part, was heard saying, “In Jesus’ name, we are going to get a bright tomorrow.”
In response, an emotional Obi replied, “Amen Daddy. 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, the cleric said, “We look forward to God’s intervention,” to which the Labour Party candidate quickly responded, “Thank you, Daddy. Daddy, I need you to speak to your people in the Southwest and Kwara. The Christians in the Southwest and Kwara. This is a religious war.”
Although two of Obi’s spokespersons, Kenneth Okonkwo and Valentine Obienyem, partially admitted that the conversation happened, they argued that it was doctored to fit the narrative that the LP flag bearer is a religious and ethnic bigot.
Obienyem specifically claimed that ‘our Nnewi prodigal brother’ is responsible for the leak. To date, the Nnewi brother has yet to be unmasked.
For weeks, social media influencers made a series of satirical tweets to mock the former governor who he repeatedly called a ‘liar’ and a ‘desperate’ politician.