The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has said that Nigerians must insist that the presidential candidates must engage in a debate before the conduct of the 2019 election.
He, therefore, asked President Buhari to be prepared to partake in the debate which he said would afford Nigerians the opportunity to hear from all the candidates and then compare their abilities and potential.
He said, “Presidential debates are used to judge the ability of the candidates to perform in office. Body language has no role in what candidates will do while in office.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is the incumbent President. It is an advantage for him to tell Nigerians what he has done in the past four years or so.
“He will tell them the roads he has started and finished, the airport he has built, the security he has provided, jobs he has created and what he has done to secure the naira against the dollar and so on and so forth.
“So, he should get prepared. Nigerians must insist that whoever wants to lead them must be ready to debate with one another. We don’t need accidental leaders and unprepared Presidents anymore.
“Debates afford candidates to sell themselves to the voters. Any candidate that runs away from the debate has failed from the beginning.”
Buhari challenged to debate
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; a former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau; and other presidential aspirants interested in contesting in the 2019 election have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to a debate ahead of the poll if they emerge as their parties’ candidates.
The other presidential aspirants who have challenged the President to a debate are a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu; a former presidential candidate of the KOWA Party in the 2015 election, Prof. Remi Sonaiya; Publisher, Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore; Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher; and Prof. Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies
According to the presidential aspirants, if they emerge as their parties’ candidates for the next election, they will engage in any presidential debate they are invited for and would like President Buhari to make himself available for such debates should he also emerge as the candidate of his party, the All Progressives Congress.
Buhari had in 2015 shunned the last round of a presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group, which was attended by the then President, Goodluck Jonathan (Peoples Democratic Party), Sonaiya (KOWA Party), Martins Onovo (National Conscience Party), Godson Okoye (United Democratic Party) and Chekwas Okorie (United Peoples Party).
We won’t force him - APC
But the Spokesperson for the ruling APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, told newsmen on Friday that the party would not force whoever emerges as its presidential candidate to go for any debate.
He also described such debates as not compulsory.
He said the ruling party didn’t “have a candidate yet” and that it would allow the eventual candidate’s campaign office to decide on the matter.
He said, “The presidential campaign will decide on that (if to take part in a presidential debate or not), not the party.
“If we get a letter of invitation, the party will sit down with the campaign organisation and look at it. There is nothing in the campaign rule that says you (as a candidate) must do it.
“You have to look at it strategically. It has to be part of your own strategy whether to do it or not.”
We can’t say if President will debate or not – Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation
The Spokesperson for the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), said that he was also not capable to speak on whether Buhari would take part in a presidential debate or not.
He said that the campaign group had yet to take a decision on the issue.
“I will not be in a position to make any commitment on that. This is because as a team, we have yet to sit down to look at it. I’m not mandated to speak on it,” he said.