Frontline presidential contender, Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili has called for a televised presidential debate with President Muhammadu Buhari and other party flag-bearers participating in the lead up to the February 2019 elections.
Ezekwesili who is running on the platform of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) said it is imperative that all candidates vying for the nation’s highest political position to take part in debates to present their plans and policy thrust to the people. She went on to call on all Nigerians to say no to debates by proxy, adding that those who refuse to present themselves before the people do not deserve to lead them.
According to the former Minister of Education and Solid Minerals, President Buhari should be bold enough to face the Nigerian people and present his plans and track record of achievements or lack thereof.
“It appears that there is a conspiracy of the minority to trivialize the issue of presidential debate in a bid to exempt President Muhammadu Buhari from defending his performance and presenting his plans before the Nigerian people. This is unacceptable. The people need to know why they should vote for each of the candidates, and they need to know now,” Ezekwesili said in a statement released to the press on Sunday.
“Make no mistake, the only people Nigerians want to hear from are their presidential hopefuls. Nigerians vote for presidents, and presidents are the ones who get the job done. Vice Presidents will not take Nigeria out of poverty. So this is not the time to shortchange citizens with a Vice Presidential debate. Nigerians are voting for top of the ticket, not VP, and they are aware that this is what matters. Anything less than a presidential debate will be considered gross disrespect for the millions of citizens we hope to lead,” she added.
Ezekwesili further stated that nothing less than 20 hours of debate is acceptable to a country of approximately 200 million people. This can be split in 5 sessions of 4 hours each, or 4 sessions of 5 hours each. The first debate, according to her statement, should be held within a week of official campaign start by INEC on 18 November.
Ezekwesili who is the leading female candidate in the race has as the main thrust of her campaign the lifting of over 80 million Nigerians out of poverty and making prosperity possible for every business, every family, and every Nigerian citizen. The former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa and 2018 Nobel Prize nominee pledges to lead a government focused on competitiveness, productivity and economic prosperity if elected into office.