Of “Yes Daddy” politics and imperatives of nationalist politicking

By Wole Balogun

The social media was recently awash with a recorded telephone chat of an alleged conversation between the General Overseer of one of the largest churches in Africa, Living Faith Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo and Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi. In that audio note, the voices of Obi and his supposed religious father, Oyedepo, are clear enough to have been recognized without much ado by anyone who has ever listened to both individuals before via any audio channel of the media, let alone meeting physically with them. So, the theory that it might have been doctored or manufactured is out of the question. It is indeed real.

Although, it was a private conversation between a spiritual father and his beloved son, so to say, its content however, is indeed, of public interest and should, in all reasonable reasoning, be taken as such. This is why those who leaked it, for whatever reasons, (Although, many would accept the idea that it was mainly for political reasons), may not be crucified in public opinion for doing so. I cannot speak of its legal implications since l am neither a legal practitioner nor a politician but surely l am an ‘interested’ stakeholder as a young Nigerian, and a Christian but one who is keenly interested in a leader who would be seen and trusted as religiously and/or ehtnically unbiased.

Now to the heart of the matter: Many who have listened to that audio note would have been wondering, why did Obi describe the February 25, 2023 presidential poll as a religious war to his spiritual father and one who is so influential religiously that his views could sway the political loyalty of millions of Nigerians in Obi’s favour?

The foregoing question ran through my mind when l listened to it and confirmed its seeming authenticity. Initially, l had thought all the noise being made about the audio note was the usual political gimmick being merely spread by fake news peddlers currently taking advantage of our unrestricted social media space to launch what the respected Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has aptly termed as ‘toxic sludge from our notorious smut factory …currently clogging the streets and sewers of the Republic of Liars’, but the recent denial by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to the effect that it wasn’t responsible for the audio note’s leakage made me believed it existed. And so, l sought to have it and listened to it.

Several seeming answers to the foregoing question have welled up in my mind and and they have even become another set of intriguing questions. They included the following; Could Peter Obi really mean it when he said the poll was a religious war? or was he merely playing the political trick, typical of virtually all Nigerian politicians, in other to leverage on or take advantage of the likely religious sentiments that Oyedepo might have on the matter? If the former were to be true, does the LP presidential flag-bearer think that he doesn’t need Muslims’ support in a Nigeria he seeks to preside over? (I find this pretty difficult to believe though). And if the latter were to be true, why would Obi decide to take advantage of a likely religious sentiment of his spiritual father or why do politicians always think that they can leverage on or take advantage of (pardon this use of words ‘take advantage of’ if it is too harsh), people in other to ultimately achieve their selfish, political interests?

Another poser to the issue at hand is, could Peter Obi have made that careless description as a natural, instinctive or political reaction to the President-elect Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s deliberate choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket? And if this were to be the case, can we not say that he is also guilty of having a covert religious sentiment as Tinubu is being accused of in some quarters, prior to the polls?

Whichever is the real intention behind such statement, Peter Obi is best to explain it to Nigerians.
What remains fundermental on the issue at hand is that a politician of the calibre of Obi or any Nigerian politician at all, seeking elective positions, must never be seen or understood as having such religious sentiment which would manifest in his description of an election that would produce the President of an heterogenous and multi-religiuos society like Nigeria, as a religious war!.

Perhaps, we should urgently counsel Obi to explain to Nigerians, especially our brothers and sisters of other religions, what he really meant, and possibly apologize for the use of the words, ‘Religious war,’ so as to salvage the choatic situation we now have found ourselves. This is very imperative because Obi’s admirable performance at the fairly free and credible February 25, 2023 Presidential poll, has, in my estimation, made him become a beautiful bribe politically, representing largely the younger and contemporary generation of Nigerians and one who is likely to be sought after by politicians from other climes in the country, in the nearest future political dispensations if this momentum of the ‘obidients’ is wisely and reasonably maintained. We could recall how Tinubu and his South-West party, had sought for incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari in the build up to the 2015 presidential poll. Hurting the religious ego of many Nigerians at this early and promising stage would be very dangerous to the political survival of such a nearly phenomenal movement as the Obidients’ movement.

Balogun is a young Nigerian writer and public affairs analyst. He writes from Ado-Ekiti. He can be reached via WhatsApp on 08137107811.

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