Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labor Party, has reprimanded Ifeanyi Okowa, vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who blamed him for stirring up sentiments through the church.
Obi, who is quickly gaining popularity, particularly online, has made a few visits to places of worship, where he was warmly received.
In an interview with some media outlets on Wednesday, Okowa had said the church ought not to be hauled into politics.
Responding, the former Anambra state governor, in a statement issued on Thursday by his campaign media office, Obi-Datti, said Okowa’s allegation was unjustifiable and an endeavor to mark him (Obi) as belonging to the country’s “primeval politics, religion, tribe, and geography”.
The statement reads: “Obi was tagged a mere social media blitz, hanging in the air without structure; second, he was labeled an Igbo and IPOB irredentist, and, now Okowa, grieved by Obi’s popularity among the lay faithful now, says he is fanning religious sentiments.
“The truth is that Obi is a driver of a movement whose membership and support cut across all facets of our national life, and any attempts to pigeonhole him into any sector will fail. Obi has visited churches even before he became the present run for the presidency. In July 2021, he was at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Karu, Abuja, to attend the 25th anniversary of a priest and the church erupted when he was introduced
“At various weddings in Abuja, Lagos, and, all over the country where he visited, Nigerians celebrated him for what he stood for and what he did when he held public office in Anambra State.
“One of such functions was Dr. Okowa’s child’s wedding at the National Ecumenical Conference Centre, Abuja, this year. Celebration of Obi at any public gathering has been there long before he began to aspire for the presidency.
“Recently in Kaduna State, Obi attended a wedding ceremony in a Mosque and his admirers thronged around him in a bid to touch him. Moreover, the Obi-Datti Media Office is privy to the fact that in most of the top public church appearances of Obi, including a recent Dunamis Church outing in Abuja, the Delta state governor was always invited. He either stayed away or sends his wife to represent him and because Obi does not like a rep where the people want him, he strives to show presence despite his tight schedule.
“We don’t expect Governor Okowa to join in this fantasy talk of attack dogs, but to use every available avenue he has to market himself and his candidate instead of dwelling in gainsaying anything that concerns Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
“Truth which is glaring and known to even Okowa is that the Labour Party candidate is leading a movement that cannot be stopped or distracted by any side talk because it was prompted by long-standing oppression of the people who are about to be liberated with Obi’s message of hope.
“Taking back the country and rebuilding it is a task that is almost certain, as there is no going back. The oppressors have forced the oppressed to pull the trigger, and there is going back.”