the religion factor

Nigeria 2023: Will Atiku, Tinubu, Kwankwaso split northern votes to Obi’s advantage?

By Dammy Matthew

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Posted on October 6, 2022 09:22

Peter Obi, Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, gestures during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Lagos
Peter Obi, Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, gestures during an interview at his residence in Lagos, Nigeria August 18, 2022. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Nigeria’s religious and ethnic divides are reflected in election voting patterns. Of the four presidential candidates – Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwankwaso – are Muslims while Peter Obi is the only Christian. With Tinubu, Atiku and Kwankwaso liable to split the Muslim votes in the north, could this work in Obi’s favour?

In July, one of Abuja’s largest churches, Dunamis International Gospel Centre, held a special service that attracted thousands of worshippers to its 100,000 capacity building.

Dunamis, which boasts of the largest church auditorium in Africa, took out time to welcome notable politicians in attendance. When Peter Obi was announced, the congregation went into a frenzy of excitement and refused to stop clapping for several minutes despite attempts by the pastor to calm them.

In the following weeks, Obi visited St Mary’s Catholic Church, Abuja and then the Redemption Camp in Ogun State where he was once more well received. This drew the ire of his opponents like the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa.

“The Peter Obi factor is as if he is trying to go through the church and make it look as if he is driving Christians into politics. I do not

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