Buhari and Atiku Shun The Presidential Debate

Buhari and Atiku, two of the foremost contenders for the presidency in the 2019 general elections did not participate in the debate organized by the Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDG, in conjunction with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON because they own the masses I guess.

The duo which comprised of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR and the former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The two who are contesting under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.

Arrangements were made for the five top presidential aspirants (including the sitting president who bids for a second term in office).

However, since the two representatives of the so-called “big parties” decided not to participate, then their podium were empty throughout the debate session.

A triad composed of Oby Ezekwesili (a 2018 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize)  of  Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Fela Durotoye of  Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, and Dr. Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive Party, YPP, all continued the debate regardless of the absence of the other two contenders.

One would have thought that these three candidates who participated would have overlooked the “errors” of the other contestants but they didn’t. Rather, they each room turns to express their displeasure in the act

It was all lady’s first as Oby opened the floor

The pastor’s wife said she was not shocked considering their absence, stating that they, by their action, had publicized their exit from the race.

She said that if they genuinely grieved for Nigeria, they would be present so as to challenge different ideas bordering around the total recovery of the nation.

Along came Fela Durotoye, the father of three diagnosed pride as the reason behind the absence of the two northerners, furthering  that “pride comes before a fall”  a passage in the Holy Bible

Dr Kingsley Moghalu obviously had a little more to say, the obviously irritated presidential aspirant said the absentees did not come because they were not competent and so would definitely fail to answer to the questions behind the energy in the country.

The former deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria  (CBN) said; 

“They cannot answer the intricate questions of the economy or even security on which they rode to power”, the YPP candidate said.

“They are not here because of arrogance. They believe we cannot do without them. They believe we are trapped. They are not here because they cannot answer the questions. One of them is a kettle and the other is a pot and they call themselves black.”

These comments must have sent a message to the absentees as they (not long after) gave the reasons for their non-participation

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar , who recently  travelled to the United States of America to gain more support from Nigerians in diaspora and the international community flew into the country and headed straight to the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja. Which was the venue of the presidential debate. 

In fact, he was seen having handshakes with his fellow contestants after which he was being fitted with a microphone in  preparation for the debate. Only for him to back out because he was informed that President Buhari would be absent.

The raging Waziri of Adamawa said:

“I am walking out because I expected to come and debate  with Mr. President. The President has been in office for the past three and  a half years. He is not here to defend that record. So, who am I going to debate with?  If he is on his way, when he comes, I will come back.

“I came back from the US to participate in this debate but the President is not here.”

The Senate President and Director-General (DG) of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Bukola Saraki, who accompanied Atiku during his trip to the US and also to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel said:

“We have always made it clear to the organizers that our candidate is ready to debate with the President. When we were told in Washington DC that the debate will take place, we thought the President will be here. Our candidate is ready to debate with the President anytime he is ready”

The former VP furthered : 

“We came here for a  presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar, cannot challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm 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 Candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on ALL of us and our democracy.

“I, however,  challenge 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.”

Okay , so what is Buhari’s excuse?

In an announcement by Buhari’s Campaign spokesman, Festus Keyamo, SAN. He revealed the actual reason behind the president’s absence of the President.

First, he said he (Mr President ) had subscribed to other options he deemed fit . It also stressed that PMB’s  time was too far spent considering the activities of yesterday whereby he  commissioned several projects as his campaign train visited Niger State.

“In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme.

On Saturday, Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau States where his time was over-stretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both  states (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening”, the statement said.

Anyways, this hasn’t stopped Nigerians from airing their displeasure considering the absence of the two top contenders in the 2019 Presidential election which top hold on the 16th of February. 

Written By Ajayi Ayodeji 


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