By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja
ABUJA (Sundiata Post)The 2019 presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has begun with the obvious absence of APC’s presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari and PDP’s Abubakar Atiku.
The candidates in attendance are Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was spotted outside the venue of the debate but wasn’t seen inside the hall.
He later went on to address the press that he wouldn’t be attending the debate because of president Buhari’s absence.
He said the election is a referendum on the incumbent, and if the incumbent fails to show up, it is pointless to go ahead and debate with other co-contestants.
He said, “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 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 the APC Presidential Candidate’s 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 Mark Sugar and with apologies to all 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 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.”
Also tweeting about the issue, Mr Ilemoma, member of the PDP campaign media team explained further.
“I can confirm that @atiku is at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel venue of #2019Debate. He waited till it was confirmed that @MBuhari wasn’t going to appear then made the decision not to participate at the debate.
“His position is that an election is a referendum on the incumbent &that if the incumbent is fails to appear it is unnecessary to debate other co-contestants.
“He reiterates his commitment that he is prepared to meet & debate with @MBuhari on any platform at any time moderated by any person.”