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Audience Barred From Participating In Presidential Debate

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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SAN FRANCISCO, March 24, (THEWILL) – The Presidential debate being hosted by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) in conjunction with the Newspapers Proprietors of Nigeria (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), the Guild of Editors, and the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) amongst other stakeholders has barred participatory audience from the event.

The two-day debate which is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 28, 2011 and end on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja would however not feature the three main rivals of the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), following the withdrawal of Muhammadu Buhari (CPC), Nuhu Ribadu (ACN) and Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP).

Chairman of the NEDG, Mr. Taiwo Alimi, who was also a Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) during a press conference in Abuja to announce the format of the debates, ruled out audience participation and barred applauses for candidates during the debate. Instead, Alimi urged persons who intend to participate to email their questions before hand to the debate panel.

“All Nigerians are requested and indeed invited to draw up questions that our panel will be raising with the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates during the debate. The questions should be concise, clear and direct. Questions are welcome on all areas of the economy and our national life. You are kindly requested to forward such questions to our email: [email protected]

“Invitations have been extended to all guests that will constitute the non-participatory audience at the venue of the debates. The audience is not allowed to interrupt, applaud or say anything in the course of the debate as in 2003 and 2007,” he stated.

Only eight (8) Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates were invited to participate in the debate. The candidates are those of the PDP, ACN, ANPP, CPC, SDMP, MPPP, UNPD, and NTP.

According to Alimi, the debate would open on March 28, 2011 at 4.pm and end at 6pm, with the Vice Presidential candidates of the MPPP, Mr. Rasheed Shitta Bey, the SDMP, Mr. Lawal Kasimu Funtua; the UNPD, Galadima Saamri; and the NTP, Bilikisu Ismo Magogo, locking horns in the first session.

In the second session, which is scheduled for 7pm-9pm same day, the Vice Presidential candidates of the PDP, Namadi Sambo; the ACN, Mr. Fola Adeola; the CPC, Pastor Tunde Bakare; and ANPP’s Chief John Odigie Oyegun will take their turn.

The Presidential candidates will debate on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, from 7pm-9pm, with SDMP’s Professor Patrick Utomi; UNPD’s Chief (Mrs.) Ebiti Onoyom Ndok; NTP’s Mr. John Dara and MPPP’s Hamisu Santuraki.

While the heavy weights, PDP’s President Goodluck Jonathan would tackle General Muhammadu Buhari (CPC); Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (ACN) and Mallam Governor Ibrahim Shekaru (ANPP) if they withdraw their joint announcement to snub the debate.

Their debate is scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, from 7pm-9pm at the same venue.

The Chairman of the NEDG said all national, state and private run broadcast stations have been cleared to broadcast the debate live to viewers worldwide.