By NBF News
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THE recently adopted Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP), Prof. Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, has challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to an open debate on why the nation has not moved forward.

He said that the presidential debate has become necessary because a great number of Nigerians were becoming disenchanted with the political development in the country.

He added that the issues that are critical to debate are education, security, state of infrastructure, the economy and strategies.

He explained that, 'the reason one country makes more progress than the other is human capital and Nigerian used to be known all over the world for its commitment to education, but today, it was no longer so.

Utomi called for the debate yesterday at a press briefing in Lagos. 'I will like to see a debate start immediately on these issues. We should not wait for presidential debate to take place one week to the elections. The debate should start next week and it should be issue- based before we come to general presidential debates.

'I would like to suggest that we begin by running on the records of the party in power. I invite President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the its presidential flag bearer to join me in a debate on the records of the PDP sometime in the next one week,' he said.

He lamented that Nigerians were increasingly believing that, 'democracy is not working in the country. According to him, 'taking a look at what happened in the Delta State re-run election where I was told authoritative, in Warri, that a gun was pointed at the head of a National Youth Service Corps member, serving as an electoral officer and ordered to thumb print severally on the ballot papers, they do not believe that their votes will count. What happened there shows that we have fallen far below the poorest country in Africa and they were further frustrated by the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission officials were totally helpless.

He also called on all progressive forces in the country to join him to establish a formidable vote protection army that will give meaning to the forthcoming elections.

He said that the process would involve the recruitment of able bodied and well-cultured youths that would be distributed, at least six persons in each ward throughout the country that would stand and serve as agents of all the political parties that would take part in the 2011 polls.

Utomi said that the goal of the project  'is to ensure that these six persons would deprive anybody from unlawfully tampering with the votes already cast and thereby restoring confidence in the people that their votes will count'.

Utomi explained that with the electoral fraud that was perpetrated every now and then in the country, it is evident that it is a civilian coup that was occurring every four years that we conduct election.

'Nigerians will continue to be considered docile until something is done or something happens. What happened in Sierra Leone sometime ago was considered as the revenge of the poor, and in Nigeria, we have to organise ourselves so that Nigeria will not go the way of Somalia'.