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Presidential debate holds March 22


FOLLOWING the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by six weeks, the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) has announced Sunday, March 22 as the new date for the presidential debate.

   Chairman of the group and Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mr. Sola Omole, disclosed this Monday during his sensitization visit to The Guardian newspaper corporate head office in Lagos.

   The debate, which will be held in three sessions, 12noon-2pm, 3pm-5pm, and 7pm-9pm, will be broadcasted to over 300 million audience across the world.

   Omole said the mission of the NEDG is to ensure debate process becomes a strong component of Nigeria’s democracy. “All over the world that is what happens. We want to make the debate culture a part of our growing democracy and we have initiated discussions with the National Assembly to propose a bill in order to legalize presidential debates ahead of general elections.”

   Reacting to concerns by the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) which had earlier pulled out of the debate earlier scheduled for February 8 over the integrity of the process, Omole said efforts have been made by organisers to make the debate credible.

   “The debate platform, which is designed by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) comprises of all radio and television stations across the country. With our over 300 membership, it is going to be the largest broadcasting session ever.

   “Over 4,000 questions were sent in from across the world and it has been polled and vetted by our technical team to avoid repetition. The questions have been kept secret from our panelists, which would only be delivered to them minutes before the debate begins. At the same time, it is the same questions that will be asked from all the contestants, while the debate is going to be aired live so there would be no filtering.”

   The chairman of the debate group added that the contact committee of NESG has been in touch with the APC leaders, including chairman of the party’s presidential campaign organization, Rotimi Amaechi, to carry them along and explain the whole process of the debate.

   He, however, noted that with or without the APC participating in the debate, it would still go on as scheduled.

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