Nigeria 2019: 2 leading candidates shun presidential debate
Candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar respectively this night refused to participate in a Presidential Debate organised by the Broadcasting Organising of Nigeria (BON) to help Nigerians judge who to vote in the elections.
Presidency had hinted earlier that Buhari would not participate in the debate but may dispatch the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to represent him, a statement Atiku replied that he won’t participate if Buhari fails to participate.
BON has organised the Election Debates for a couple of years but candidates are under no legal obligation to participate in the debate.
Three other candidates: Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili and Kingsley Moghalu participated in the debate.
Although Atiku, candidate of the main opposition party arrived the venue of the debate at Abuja Hilton, he however left the venue when he confirmed that Buhari of the ruling party won’t be participating.
Atiku said in a statement: “We came here for a Presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar, can not challenge or question an administration where the man at the helms of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all, you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.
“I do not believe in attacking a man who is NOT here to defend himself. As a leader and former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC Presidential Candidates absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on ALL of us and our democracy.
“Secondly, with all due respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and to the moderator and with all apologies to my Fellow Nigerians here and at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret that I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence.
“I, however, challenge the President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Buhari said he missed the debate because of his busy schedule.