Elections debate group denies political partisanship
THE desirability of getting credible information across to Nigerians by the political contestants informed the organisation of a live debate for presidential candidates and their vice, the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) has said.
Chairman of the group, which is operating under the aegis of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Sola Omole, who stated this in Abuja Wednesday while speaking on the preparations toward the debate said that the group is made of professional organisations and civil society groups whose sole aim is to provide credible platform for contestants to explain their programmes to Nigerians.
Omole, who is also the Director General of Nigeria Television of Nigeria (NTA) said: “I can say 13 of the 14 registered political parties approved to field candidates for the general elections have indicated their readiness to participate in the election debate. We are still working on the programme to ensure all the political parties participate. As to the sympathy of the Nigeria Elections Debate Group, I will like to state squarely that the group is not a partisan organisation. This is a collection of media organisations, civil society organisations, professional organisations who have an interest in ensuring that Nigerians get information that will enhance their ability to decide during the election. The questions that would be asked on the date of the debate are still being worked upon by our debate committee. Those questions are not ready as I am speaking to you. Therefore there is absolutely no reason why anybody should be questioning our non-partisanship. We have simply invited the political parties to come and participate in the debate. It is a live event that will be beamed and stream online to the every parts of the world. The aspirants have the opportunity of speaking to a live audience without any form of intermediary. Our role in the debate is to provide the information that Nigerians will require to vote.”
He hinted that the event is not strictly a Nigerian issue, saying an international news medium, Al Jazeera, has shown interest to participate in the debate.
He explained that the vice presidential debate sessions have been divided into three and would hold on February 3rd, while the presidential candidates debate would be held on February 8.
The NTA helmsman also revealed that the presidential candidates debate which would be held on the 8th February would follow similar pattern with the Vice Presidential debate. He maintained that the dates were carefully chosen considering the availability of the candidates in view of their busy schedule of crisscrossing the length and breath of the country canvassing for vote.
Though there would be an audience at the event, he explained that such audience would be non-participatory saying, “we are going to have audience in the hall that would be non-participatory. The audience would be there to listen and watch the candidates present their programmes. There will be rules and regulations that will guide the exercise. The rules include decency of language and strictly adhere to addressing issues. The NEDG will not tolerate abusive language and name-calling.”