Obi’s alleged N2bn donation splits Christian leaders


By Aminu Kutama

Christian leaders under the Dominion Center International have petitioned the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) expressing ‘disappointment, displeasure and disbelief’ over the inequitable distribution of the 2 billion Peter Obi largesse donated to CAN in order to help mobilize christian support for the Labour Party candidate.

In a leaked letter signed by Pastor Frank Onwumere who, a self-addressed senior pastor with the Dominion Center International, the purpose of the 2 billion donation was to entice different Christian churches to invite Peter Obi during their annual December congregation with the aim of galvanizing Christian support for his candidacy.

‘The main purpose of the funds of 2 billion naira disbursed by Mr. Peter Obi was to assuage the church for mobilization during this year end so as to allow him audience, to solicit for votes from the churches, while the various church leaders will also instruct their congregation to vote for him massively for the presidential elections, using this month of December to tour the various bodies of churches based on the funds disbursed,” reads part of the letter.

However, the petition alleged that the CAN leadership refused to disburse the funds equitably among various Christian churches under its umbrella. Instead, the petition alleged that the money was mainly disbursed to a select group of mega churches and popular pastors.

The petition further threatened to hold a ‘world press conference’ to expose the alleged fraud to the whole world, in addition to threats to withhold mobilization for Mr. Obi until their own share of the funds is disbursed.

While Sahelian Times could not independently verify the authenticity of the leaked letter, checks confirmed that Mr. Peter Obi was received by some mega churches during the yuletide season and has continued to seek to use their platforms for political mobilization. Mr. Obi was at the annual Living Faith Church program ‘Shiloh’ in December. He was also at the Omega Fire Ministries that’s run by Apostle Johnson Suleman. In the same month, Mr. Obi was at the Adeboye-led Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

Responding to our queries, a Labor Party official speaking on the condition of anonymity dismissed the allegations, saying that no such money was disbursed. When posed with the question of Obi’s visit to churches which the petition also alleged was part of the purpose of the 2 billion naira inducement, the official countered that it is normal for politicians to visit churches and Christian leaders to solicit for support and blessings, citing Atiku’s vice presidential pick Ifeanyi Okowa who has also made similar visits.

However, a political analyst who preferred not to be named argued that Obi’s alleged 2 billion naira inducement to Christian leaders is nothing new: ‘politicians across the aisles spend billions of naira to court support and endorsement of religious leaders and groups. What is surprising is Obi’s altruistic posture. If truly he gave out 2 billion naira then we have to worry about the legal and moral consequences of such inducement.’

The analyst added that ‘basically, Obi should have no problem courting Christian votes because both APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket and PDP’s northern Muslim candidate unsettle Christian leaders who had hoped for a southern Christian candidate in the two major parties.’

On February 25, Nigerians are going to participate in the most keenly contested presidential poll since the return of democracy in 1999, in what is termed as a three-and-half horse race, with APC’s Bola Tinubu, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, Labor Party’s Peter Obi and NNPP’s Rabiu Kwankwaso. Many online polls have predicted a Peter Obi or Tinubu victory, but considering Nigeria’s huge digital and political divide and increasingly complex political dynamics, online polls are hardly reliable.

Efforts to speak to both CAN and Mr. Obi’s spokespersons have been unsuccessful at the time of publishing this report.

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