2011: Nigerians in the US want debate among Candidates

Source: pointblanknews.com

Nigerians living in the United States have called for electoral rules that will make debate mandatory among political office seekers in Nigeria.

At the 2011 presidential forum held under the auspices of the Nigeria Peoples Parliament in the Diaspora (NPPID), in New York, the U.S.-based Nigerians condemned the alleged lack of such debates among the presidential and other political candidates ahead of next month polls. The forum was attended by representatives of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who answered questions from members of the parliament.

Although the group invited leading presidential candidates, including President Goodluck Jonathan, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, Prof. Pat Utomi and Chief Dele Momodu, only Shekarau honoured the invitation. The forum lamented that even the presidential campaigns are not issue-driven

The forum called for enforcement of public debate among presidential candidates and all others seeking election into public offices. It condemned a situation where a presidential candidate requests for debate questions in advance as allegedly done by President Jonathan campaign organisation, describing it as “shameful and scandalous.”

According to the U.S.-based Nigerians, it is inexplicable that so far, there has not been any presidential debate ahead of elections coming up in a few weeks.

They canvassed electoral law that will disqualify candidates who refuse to participate in debates and also impose fines to defray the cost of organising the debates. “Any candidate who refuses to participate in public debates should not be allowed to stand for election and should be made to pay the costs of organising the debates.”

According to them, this measure is necessary to end the negative attitude of public office seekers to political debate that started since 1999 when former PDP presidential candidate, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo refused to participate in debate with former AD/APP presidential candidate Chief Olu Falae, at the very last minute in Abuja.

Besides, the U.S. group asked for the establishment by statutes of an Independent National Debate Commission which will manage the conduct of public electoral debates in the country and educate the electorate and the parties on the need and the advantages of such exercises.