A political affiliated group wants the presidential and vice-presidential debates postponed alleging bias in its composition
By Emeka Ejere
Rethink Nigeria, a People’s Democratic Party, PDP, affiliated group has described the vice presidential and presidential debates slated for Friday December 14, 2018 (today) and Saturday January 19, 2019 respectively as too compromised to provide the level playing field expected of an exercise of such magnitude and should be postponed and membership of the panel recomposed and reconstituted.
The Nigeria Elections Debate Group, NEDG, and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, BON, organisers of the debate had on Tuesday, December 11, restricted the debate to five political parties, amid uproar from the excluded parties.
Those shot-listed are Oby Ezekwesili, the candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria; Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria; President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress; Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party; and Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party.
In a statement signed by Sunny Okoro, its publicity secretary, Rethink Nigeria alleged that the questions of today’s exercise have been pre-leaked to Yemi Osinbajo, the vice-presidential candidate of the APC.
It also alleged that the moderators and organisers of the debate are too close to the ruling party for comfort.
The group recalled that in recent times, Channels TV, which coincidentally is owned by John Momoh, the chairman of BON has come under attack over alleged partisan reportage of political issues in the country.
The gruop’s statement said in part: “Regrettably, the composition and the structure of the debate fundamentally lacks the conditions and characteristics that make for a fair and competitive debate.
“Firstly, we have reliably gathered that the questions have been pre-leaked to the Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“In addition to this, the moderators and organisers of the debate are too close to the ruling All Progressives Congress for comfort.
Consequently, the group urged the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP and other political parties to exempt themselves from the debate, saying it is poised to be a charade and a repudiation of everything a debate should be.
“We also want to recommend that should the candidates participate regardless that the process has been so blatantly rigged, they must extract a commitment that President Muhammadu Buhari must participate.
“We demand that the debate should be postponed in other to give room for the membership of the panel to be recomposed and reconstituted to reflect a panel nominated by a broader section of Nigerians as we are not prepared to accept a choreographed debate,” the statement said further.