The 2023 presidential election in Nigeria was marked by intense politicking and accusations of religious bias. The issue of religion was especially important given the religious diversity of the country.
However, in a recent interview on Arise Television, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, spoke candidly about a leaked audio clip that purportedly showed him referring to the election as a “religious war.”
Obi, who was the vice-presidential candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, was caught on tape allegedly referring to the election as a “religious war” during a private conversation with David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, one of Nigeria’s largest and most influential churches.
The clip was leaked to the public shortly after the election, sparking outrage among many Nigerians who saw it as evidence of Obi’s religious bias.
In his interview on Arise Television, Obi admitted to having the conversation with Oyedepo but denied referring to the election as a “religious war.” According to Obi, the clip was taken out of context and distorted to create a false impression. He also clarified that he is not a religious bigot and believes in religious tolerance and inclusivity.
“I’m not a religious bigot,” Obi said. “I believe in religious tolerance and inclusivity. The clip was taken out of context and distorted to create a false impression. I never referred to the election as a religious war. What I said was that we needed to address the underlying issues that were causing religious tensions in the country, such as poverty, unemployment, and insecurity.”
Obi went on to explain that his conversation with Oyedepo was private and should not have been leaked to the public. He expressed regret that his words had been distorted and misinterpreted, and called for a greater emphasis on responsible journalism and ethical behavior among media practitioners.
“I’m not happy that my private conversation with a respected leader in the country has been leaked to the public,” Obi said. “I believe in responsible journalism and ethical behavior among media practitioners. We need to have a more responsible and ethical media that upholds the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”
Obi’s admission and clarification are significant, given the polarizing effect of religion on Nigerian politics. In a country where religion plays a central role in people’s lives and identities, political leaders are often judged by their perceived religious affiliations and biases.
Obi’s stance on religious tolerance and inclusivity is in line with the ideals of a modern, democratic society that values diversity and respects individual freedoms.
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