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Buhari’s boycott of presidential debate elicits criticisms

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For shunning the presidential debate organised at the weekend by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) in collaboration with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), President Muhammadu Buhari has come under fire from stakeholders in the nation’s electoral process.

Some of the aggrieved players maintained that the president must face other contestants at a later date or quit the contest.Director-General, Atiku/Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Dr. Harry Oranezi, said the action amounted to an “insult on the intelligence of about 84 million registered voters and millions resident abroad who are stakeholders in the Nigeria Project.”

The former House of Representatives member for Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and South Federal Constituency of Anambra State also defended the non-participation of his principal and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard-bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who showed up at the event but declined participation on account of Buhari’s non-availability.He likened the president’s decision to the absence of a defending champion and cup holder, adding that the development was discouraging and made the former vice president felt there was nothing at stake.

Oranezi assumed that since the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag-bearer took part in an intra-party debate with his running mate, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a week ago, Nigerians had expected him to up the ante and convince them on why they should return him to office for a fresh four-year term in next month’s polls.

Describing the boycott as a sad development, the DG urged the electorate to part ways with Buhari if he refuses to engage other aspirants and render his stewardship through the platform.

Also condemning the action were a PDP chieftain and former Commissioner for Lands and Survey in Anambra State, Chibunna John Okoli-Akirika, and a human rights activist cum legal practitioner, Greg Offodile. Urging Nigerians not to re-elect the president if he shuns another debate before the election, the duo submitted that the exercise would help to deepen democracy in the context of voter education requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the political parties ass well as well keep the electorate abreast with the manifestos of the contenders for the nation’s highest office.


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