Jonathan to Participate in March 29 Presidential Debate

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President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who was conspicuously absent from the president debate organized today by NN24, has said he will make himself available for next rounds of debate, scheduled for March 29.

A press statement issued by Ima Niboro, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, said, 'President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has accepted an invitation to participate in presidential debate being organized by the Broadcasting Organizations' of Nigeria (BON) in collaboration with the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria'.

'The debate is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29 and will be broadcast live on the network service of the African Independent Television , AIT, Channels TV, Silverbird TV,  Nigerian Television, Authority, Radio Nigeria and other public and private broadcasting stations in the country'.

'President Jonathan looks forward to seizing the opportunity of the debate to further present his case for the renewal of his mandate to Nigerian voters'.

In related development, Mr. Ide Eguabor, director of media and publicity, of   Jonathan/Sambo campaign organization   adduced reason why President Jonathan was unable to make to the NN24 presidential debate.

In his words:
'The Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation has watched with utter consternation, efforts by some individuals and groups to feed the Nigerian public with inaccurate and distorted information to suit their selfish ends.

'A presidential debate to be organised by the management of NN24, a subscriber to Multichoice's DSTV cable, is deliberately being heated up by those who now see what the president will do or will not do as an opportunity for political capital.

'The truth of the matter is that several applications from various groups, including that of NN24, have reached the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation seeking to organise the presidential debate, preparatory to the April general elections.

'The campaign organization sent its officials to sit as observers at some of the meetings called to deliberate on modalities. However, after a thorough examination of the reports of its observers to these meetings, a collective decision was taken to retain the body that had organized presidential debates since 1999 and has performed creditably well and so, saw no need to discard the platform and template for another.

'The fact is that, the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG), organisers of the presidential debate series, is an amalgamation of the Nigeria's mass media, print and electronic, the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), the Nigeria Bar Association, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), market women and other civil society groups.

'The Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation does not believe that this relevant and credible body, made up of Nigerians and who will moderate a presidential debate watched by Nigerians on all television and radio stations nationwide should be jettisoned for any other on the eve of crucial national elections.

'Furthermore, President Goodluck Jonathan who has a carefully drawn out schedule leading up to the elections will not be able to cancel any of his appointments now to attend to a debate that is only the result of a fresh application.

'Having only just concluded his tour of the 36 states of Nigeria, President Jonathan has a hectic schedule ahead before the grand finale of the state campaigns at Abuja on March 26, 2011.

'The Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation regrets that President Goodluck Jonathan will unavoidably be unable to attend the debate organised by NN24.