By Uche Amunike
A leaked audio tape of a telephone conversation between the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and Bishop Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Saturday, has stirred up controversy in the polity, leading to Obi’s critics accuse him of playing a politics of religion and ethnicity, just before the presidential election was held.
On Sunday morning, however, Labour Party’s Spokesperson for the Presidential Campaign Team, Kenneth Okonkwo confirmed the audio tape to be authentic, but however gave the Peter Obi, Bishop Oyedepo conversation a very different interpretation.
Hear him: ‘Firstly, the context of the conversation was aptly put by Bishop Oyedepo when he said, ‘All Nigerians have (an) equal stake in this nation, nobody has the right to claim that he is dashing something to someone,’ Mr Okonkwo tweeted.
He went on to accuse the All Progressives Party (APC) of attempting to change the narrative of the audio conversation, thereby making it look as though Obi was making a religious statement. He maintained that they spinned the conversation to create an entirely different impression from what it really was, while accusing them of initiating what looks like the religious battle of the ballots by running a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in a country as religiously diverse as Nigeria.
On his part, Head of the Obi-Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade completely contradicted Okonkwo by saying the audio tape was fake. Hear him: ‘All these are meant to serve no other purpose than egregious mischief aimed at demarketing Peter Obi; if the goal is to create a credibility problem, the ploy has failed woefully,’ Mr Onifade said, also describing the audio as deepfake
‘Peter Obi has long been on record as the only presidential candidate who has urged the Nigerians electorate not to vote for him on the basis of religion or tribe’, he stated.
This has left question marks as to why the two spokesmen were giving different statements.
Bishop Oyedepo on his part, has responded that he did not campaign for any candidate, but only played advisory roles whenever they approached him.
Hear him: ‘Nobody had ever told me what to say in this world. No. I have never campaigned for anybody or spoken on anybody’s behalf and I will not do that till I go to heaven.’
He continued: ‘There is no (political) party in this country that didn’t come to me for prayers and for advice. I advised them, some they didn’t take. Those who chose to take it see results; those who said no are going about it (laughs). If you still come again, I will still tell you, it doesn’t change.’