The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, has said that he was not championing sectional interest in quest to be elected Nigeria’s next President in 2023, noting that his church visits were consistent with his ways, not prompted by politics.
A statement issued by the Obi-Datti Campaign Organization on Thursday said Obi’s candidacy is being driven solely by a patriotic determination to birth a new Nigeria, adding that it was not by any sectional or religious consideration.
The party said the clarification from the Obi-Datti Media Office contained in a statement signed by the Head of the Office, Diran Onifade, came in the wake of attempts in the media to label Obi a champion of sectional interests, in a bid to douse his current popular standing as the obvious choice of majority of Nigerians.
The statement noted previous efforts by people it called detractors to tag Peter Obi as a mere social media candidate without any political structure on ground.
“Having seen their previous attempts at whittling down Obi’s popularity among Nigerians founder in the most spectacular manner, they are currently embarking on another miserable attempt at derailing what is obviously a fast moving train. Their mission now is to label Obi a jingoist of religion and tribe in a bid to curry favour with other religious or ethnic interests,” the statement said.
The statement added that Obi, being a frontrunner in the presidential race, his movements – whether private or public – were more trailed now than before.
It said because of Obi’s high visibility, mischievous people see his frequent appearances at churches or secular programmes as religious adventures with political undertones, pointing out that anyone knowledgeable about the LP flag bearer’s past knows that he has always been a regular sight at church services irrespective of the denomination.
“Even as Governor, Obi has always been involved in religious issues whether Christianity or Islam. He always seeks prayers for himself from those around him including subordinates because he sees himself as a child of God’s abundant grace and therefore needs constant supplications.
“As Governor, Obi sponsored Muslims to Mecca for Hajj and always urged them to pray for him. Obi, although a Catholic, has not limited himself to his faith even before becoming a presidential candidate. We recall vividly that when Pastor Adeboye visited Anambra state to dedicate a church built by one of the top Anambra citizens in Nnewi, Obi was physically there with the revered Pastor. These instances are verifiable to buttress the fact that the LP Presidential flag bearer has been consistent in his way of life as it relates to his faith, prayers and relationship with his maker,” the statement said.
The Obi-Datti Media Office said Obi’s visits to churches were for prayers not for campaign but only to solicit for prayers for his candidacy from worshippers.
“There is nowhere he gave a kobo to any church or pastor. We also understand the frustration of Obi’s opponents who lack the physical and mental strength to go round seeking God’s face in his project and have chosen the easy way, which is blackmail and slander,” the statement added.
The Media Office pointed out that Obi has said repeatedly that he should not be voted for because he is a Christian or Igbo but he wanted to be voted for because he was coming to the table with solutions to the problems facing the country. It said Obi’s antecedents, backed by an unimpeachable character of high moral standing, competence, and capacity, make him a natural fit for the job of being Nigeria’s next President.
“If Obi is to be cubby-holed, he should be seen as a candidate of the youths and the poor in society whom he identified as the victims of successive federal administrations. While Obi is making frantic efforts to market himself to the Nigerian people with issue-driven campaigns, his detractors are busy trying hard to tag him as a candidate of one faith. But the plain and irreducible truth is that Obi’s candidacy cuts across every divide,” the statement added.
The Obi-Datti Media team said Obi has refrained from joining issues with anyone because he sees these variables as instruments used in the past to deceive and misrule Nigerians. It called on Nigerians to be watchful and to try as much as possible to undermine and frustrate these agents of the old brigade who have been holding the country down.
“Our candidate cannot be distracted by these agents no matter the provocation since to do so is to fall into the trap of his competitors who have nothing to sell in the country’s political markets and have thus chosen to distract and divert attention. Obi’s message of taking Nigeria from consumption to production has resonated with millions of Nigerians who have risen in unison to reject the reactionary politics of the past and have opted for a more pragmatic approach to governance, which Obi represents.
“We believe that those struggling to tar Obi with the sectional brush will fail because as conveyors of falsehood in the past, the people will not trust them. For us here and to many, Obi is a solution provider, representing a brighter tomorrow, hence the admiration of the youth and other sections of the Nigerian populace. Obi has antecedents, which show that he can be trusted and we urge discerning minds to disregard the mischief makers and agents of a decaying order bent on holding Nigerians down in perpetual servitude,” it stated.