The Nigerian Election Debate Group has fixed January 19, 2019 for presidential debate for candidates contesting next year’s presidential election.
President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are among the 78 candidates who filed nomination papers for the election.
Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), organisers of the debate, Mr. John Momoh, at a press conference yesterday, said December 14 has been fixed for vice presidential debate.
“The debates would hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, and will be broadcast live on all BON member radio and television stations across the country.
“The debates will also be streamed live on all mobile and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to give it a global coverage,” he disclosed.
According to him, “the debates will focus on the issues that matter most to working families; restoring our economy, providing electricity, creating jobs, securing health care for every Nigerian, making and achieving excellence in every Nigerian school and ensuring safety and security for Nigerians.”
Mr. Momoh regretted that the nation is facing a threat to national unity, adding that resource control and self determination, ethnicity-based identity politics and religious cleavages, have enveloped national consciousness.
“Our nation is strongest when our elected leaders are transparent, accessible and accountable to its citizens, explaining their decisions and answering tough questions.
“That standard of openness must start long before the election day,” Momoh emphasised.
He however, said the debate group has no power to sanction any candidate who may boycott the debate but revealed that the group is planning to sponsor a bill in National Assembly to make debate compulsory for all candidates.
“What we are trying to do is like in the UK, it should be enshrined in the constitution, to say that this must be a pre-condition for candidates who are seeking office to be part of the debate process.
“I know that efforts have been made in this regard to try to sponsor a bill,” he added.
Momoh appealed to candidates who might not want to attend the debate to change their minds as Nigerians would like to know policies they have for them.