Nigeria’s Noisy But Insipid Presidential Debate
Nigeria News takes a look at the myriads of debate organized for presidential candidates and how te real actors had tactically dodge it.
Democracy has not been interesting after the annulment of June 12, 1993 election by the military junta of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
He killed the morale of many Nigerians and since then many had lost interest in voting or participating in this civil rule.
What made June 12 thick was not the conduct of the poll alone, which was adjudged the freest, fairest and most peaceful of all elections in the country, the presidential and vice presidential debate prior to the election grew the enthusiasm of the electorate.
They were eager to vote because many of them made up their minds on whom they would cast their ballot at the debate.
The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party late Chief MKO Abiola and his counterpart for National Republican Convention, Alhaji Bashir Tofa slugged it out to the extent that they were asked how much it would cost to buy a bowl of beans in the market.
It was an interesting scene. However, the scenario changed when former President Olusegun Obasanjo refused to show up at the debate between him and his rival, the candidate of Alliance for Democracy, Chief Olu False ahead of the 1999 presidential election.
That singular action was the beginning of doom’s days for Democracy and by extension leadership in Nigeria civil rule.
Political campaigns are always rowdy, no chance to question candidates. Contestants do not even read their manifestos anymore. Politicians impose themselves on the populace and rig their candidates to power.
So, it is not new, what we witnessed on Saturday evening that President Muhammadu Buhari refused to grace Hilton venue of the debate.
We knew Buhari would not come, having performed so woefully at the previous town hall meeting where he could not process his thought, many had argued.
He took after his predecessors. At the congress Hall of Hilton, there were three other presidential candidates waiting for to debate with Buhari and the PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar.
They were, Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu. Before then the Atiku had said that he would only stand to debate if Buhari would be around.
Atiku had to cut his stay in the US for a debate in Nigeria but was disappointed that Buhari refused to show up. The PDP candidate though entered the Hilton Congress Hall for the debate but stormed out of the place when he noticed that Buhari would not come.
Later, he said via his Twitter handle that he could not join other candidates for the debate because the man at the helm of affairs whom he would have loved to question his economic policies had failed to show up.
Atiku apologized to his co-debaters that since he could not shave the head of Buhari in his absence and because the event was presidential debate but not candidacy debate, he would not like to exercise his brain in vain.
But to many Nigerians, Atiku’s excuse is not tenable. It is an escape strategy.