Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, has sparked a divisive row within Nigeria’s Christian community with an alleged two billion naira bribe he paid to a section of the community’s leadership to propagate his unlikely presidential ambition.
This revelation, which affirms Obi’s inflammable plot to exploit religion in a bid to secure an advantage at the polls later this month, was contained in a petition authored by an Imo-based cleric who accused the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Catholic Bishops, and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) of pocketing the sum despite receiving same on behalf of the larger Christian community.
According to Pastor Frank Onwumere of the Dominion Centre International who authored the petition, Mr. Peter Obi disbursed the sum of 2BN “to the various Christian organizations, on behalf of our district of the PFN” and that the “humungous amount of money was given to the church by the Labour Party to help and assist in mobilizing and convincing their congregation to vote massively for the candidacy of Mr. Peter Obi.”
His protest is due to his charge that the “said sum of money has developed wings and cannot be traced, as we have it on good authority, that it has been fleeced by mega churches and popular pastors and leaders who already as we write, are receiving the presidential candidate across the length and breadth of Nigeria without due consideration to other churches that have not received their own part of the funds.”
He queried why the Christian body of leaders would receive the sum on behalf of the entire Christendom and “not remit/disburse same funds for the purposes of which the funds were meant.”
He also inquired why the Christian body of leaders would “go against the laid down procedures including against the INEC mandate against party politics and engagement of candidate especially in the issue of religion and collecting funds from the backdoor.”
The startling petition, detailing how Peter Obi recruited certain clerics to present his candidature as representative of Nigeria’s Christian community, has prompted widespread criticism since it became public in the early hours of today. Many Nigerians call it an unbecoming act of desperation designed to divide the people and drag respected church institutions into the muddy waters of politics.
It is not the first time Obi has come under criticism for using the church as a political tool, with great cost to peace, stability, and social cohesion. As governor of Anambra, he was alleged to have amplified a divide between Catholics, to which he belongs, and Anglicans with divisive claims that Catholics would only be able to preserve their dominance in the state by preventing the ascendance of any member of the Anglican branch as governor.
The move, which prompted violence and caused enmity between neighbours, remains his biggest legacy in the state, much to the chagrin of residents. He is also rumoured to be a closet tribalist, an allegation given life by controversial policies he pursued whilst he was governor, including the inhumane purge of northerners from Anambra.