President Jonathan Should Not Back Out Of The Presidential Debate


Washed-up, the big   white notebook, brought out again, I write from the bed, as i always do. My doctor is to see me today, Saturday. I have little fever. This doctor, he will come to ask the same old questions .How are you today?   Weak legs?    Head- aches?   Back hurts? Do   you drink alcohol? He will ask. Are you getting your exercise, your drugs?

  Here he comes, i saw someone walking towards my bed. Oh, it must be my doctor of course. Wrong, not him, this time it's just my friend Emeka. "hello, Emeka, have you heard that President Jonathan has backed   out of the presidential debate?'

  Whish wan kom be this again naa....? So you still believe presidential debate will hold in Nigeria again? Dem never give them envelopes for primaries? Abi...the first ladies never dash dem bags of rice, tin milk and tomato? Wetin concern agbero concern overload again for presidential debate in Nigeria? The   presidential debate for the April election will not hold,he said.   My friend Emeka   made me to burst with laughter .

  To Emeka the presidential debate thing is a big joke. God damn! The thought that Emeka may be right shot   me in the ass like   a .22. Barely few   days to the scheduled Nigerian presidential debate, we are made to understand that   there   is disagreement between President Goodluck Jonathan and three other presidential candidates over the mode of the debate. The others are Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria); Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Congress for Progressive Change); and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau (All Nigeria Peoples Party).

  Television station NN24 in conjunction with about 30 international stations, is organising the live debate for the four top Presidential runners. The order of the debate as arranged we are made to know is as follows: First Presidential debate (March 8); Vice-Presidential debate (March 11); and Second Presidential debate (March 18).  

  The   Nigerian Media is   awash   with news   that President   Goodluck Jonathan   has   backed out of the presidential debate. I rolled back again over my   small bed thinking , how   can this be true, our president must not back down. I even heard that the Ribadu camp have started laughing. Mr. Ribadu has come up with a remark in a release made available to newsmen by its campaign organisation that since 1999, PDP presidential   candidates had been shying away from debates because they had nothing to offer. Ribadu is wrong because GEJ is different.GEJ has a lot to offer Nigerians. I hate the i am better than thou attitude ,the type Ribadu is exhibiting. Ribadu graduated from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 1984, before joining the Nigeria Police.Barristers and lawyers - ah! we know why each one is well trained in the fine art of lies.

  Early 2007, Ribadu was   all over the news that he has   finalised plans to put some fraudulent governors behind bars. Then, as Chairman of EFCC, he presented himself   as a   tough no-nonsense guy with all established evidences against corrupt governors. Most of us believed him   then, others understood him as a man full of sound signifying nothing. We can recall that    the list of corrupt governors provided by Ribadu when he was the EFCC boss contained   Asiwaju Bola Tinubu . How come that   the same Asiwaju   Tinubu is now Ribadu's   benefactor?   What morals is   Ribadu   teaching us?   Can we take him serious? .Is he different from the rotten lot?

  GEJ's voice   is   thunderous. His voice and his ideas will   surely drown the voices   of Ribadu and co   in a debate so Ribadu should stop beating his chest. It is indeed necessary for this debates to go on   to enable Nigerians   see the nothingness in what Ribadu profess to have in stock for Nigeria. GEJ   should   not back out of the   political debate .The practice of organizing presidential debates is not new, not even in Nigeria. The practice dates back to 1858 in the United States when there were the famed seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas when both were running for the US Senate. The debates were face-to-face debates with no moderator involved.

  The first presidential debate in the United States took place in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Since then, it has become customary for candidates of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to engage in a debate. The topics discussed in the debate are often the most controversial issues of the time. The first televised presidential debate in Nigeria was for the 1993 presidential election between the late MKO Abiola, candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bashir Tofa of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). Thereafter there was another debate between their running mates namely Babagana Kingibe and Sylvester Ugoh respectively. We can do   it again in Nigeria.

  George W. Bush showed an abundance of character and charisma in his debates against both Al Gore and John Kerry. Ronald Reagan was able to define himself in the debate   with Walter Mondale. Bill Clinton was perhaps the best candidate to ever use the debate with   his opponents, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole to form a lasting perception that propelled him to the White House .I pray to hear my phone ring for someone to tell me our president has accepted the presidential debate.

  Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema,Imo State, Nigeria