The Nigeria Elections Debate Group chaired by John Momoh who is also the chairman of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and chairman of Channels Television recently disclosed that the Presidential debate for the 2019 election will come up on the 19th of January, 2019 at the Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja . The debate will be beamed live by members of tge BON. This will be preceded by the Vice-Presidential debate which starts on December 14, 2018.
Though President Muhammadu Buhari has not sent in words to say he would participate or not but the duo of Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have assured of their participation.
The debate would focus on the nation ’s economy, electricity, job creation, health care, education and security among others.
There is this notion and feeling among Nigerians especially of the major opposition party that Buhari would eventually not attend the debate given the body language of the presidency. The reason why he will not attend as opined remains a puzzle even as fingers are kept crossed and Nigerians await January 19. 2019
Truth is the presidency and those close to Mr. President should convince him to participate in the debate as a way of honouring Nigerians who may need to hear from him on how he intends moving or taking the nation to the NEXT LEVEL as his campaign slogan suggests.
All over the world particularly in advance countries presidential debate is seen as part of the whole election process. In fact, it is the election itself. It is an opportunity for the citizens to get first hand information from their would-be leader(s) on how he or she or they intend running the country in the next four years or so. The people need to understand the mindset of the man or woman they are about to vote for. There should be a chemistry between or of their expectations and intensions of the incoming leader. They have to be convinced of his or her dispositions on critical issues, areas and sectors that need urgent attention. Good a thing the Elections Debate Group has shortlisted the vital areas of discourse which should help the candidates prepare adequately enough for and in the debate to win the hearts of Nigerians or the electorate.
In the light of this, Mr. President will be doing himself a great disservice if not disfavour if he shuns this debate. Such action could be interpreted as a let-down on the citizens or populace.especially those who ardently support him. It could mean taking the voters for granted or outrightly belittling them. These people would want Mr. President to cash on the advantage presented by the debate to do justice to areas his administration always claims to have excelled. This government has maintained that it has scored high in the area of fighting corruption and insurgency. Perhaps the people need to know more on how far the wars have gone and the degree of success recorded so far in both areas especially in the face of the killings of dozens of soldiers by the insurgents as recently reported and the GANDUJEGATE plus NEMAGATE which have become a scar on the body of this administration looking specifically from the perspective of war against corruption.
The world witnessed the tension-soaked presidential debate between eventual winner and incumbent President of the United States of America, Donald Trump and his opponent, Hilary Clinton of the Democratic Party. It was a debate laden with acrimony but in the end, it brought out the beauty of democracy as Americans had opportunity to know the candidates better which informed their choice during the voting exercise and process.
As a matter of fact and exigency, President Buhari should give the John Momoh-led Nigeria Elections Debate Group his word or assurance of appearing in the debate. Shunning or avoiding the debate for whatsoever reason will not add any value to his chances in the election….and if it could do anything it surely would be to his disadvantage.