DRAMA AT THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: READ WHAT REALLY HAPPENED





The 2019 Presidential Debate, organized by Nigerian Election Debate Group(NEDG),  was scheduled to hold yesterday being 19th of January, 2019. The debate moderator was Mark Eddo, and the venue was at Congress Hall of Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

All the Presidential candidate were all present expect Mr President and Presidential candidate of All Progressive congress, Gen Mahammadu Buhari. Ezekwesili of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, and Dr. Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive Party, YPP, were already on stage. Alahiji Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party, who just came back from America was present but later walked away because Buhari was absent.  He(Buhari) was said to be absence because he was busy.


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Atiku explained that he could not debate issues arising from Buhari’s policies in his absence.

 He added before walking away said: “I am walking out because I expected to come and debate with Mr. President. The President has been in office for the past three and a half years. He is not here to defend that record. So who am I going to debate with? If he is on his way, when he comes, I will come back.

The Senate President and Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Bukola Saraki, who accompanied Atiku to the TranscorpHilton Hotel venue of the debate, also said:
“We have always made it clear to the organizers that our candidate is ready to debate with the President. When we were told in Washington DC that the debate will take place, we thought the President will be here. Our candidate is ready to debate with the President anytime he is ready”
In a statement he released f after he walked out, the PDP presidential candidate said: “We came here for a presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar, cannot challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all, you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.
“I do not believe in attacking a man who is NOT here to defend himself. As a leader and former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC Presidential Candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on ALL of us and our democracy.

“I, however, challenge President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well.”

 Festus Keyamo, Buhari's spokesman explaining the absence of the President, said he had taken up other formats to market himself. It also noted that Buhari’s time was overstretched by the activities of yesterday that saw him commission projects during a campaign visit to Niger State.
“In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme. Today (Saturday), Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau States where his time was over-stretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both states (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening”, the statement said

The claims of the two men, nonetheless, the three candidates present at the debate took turns to  Buhari and Atiku over their absence.
Ezekwesili said she was not surprised by their absence, noting that they, by their action, had announced their exit from the leadership contest. She said that if they cared about Nigeria, they would have come for a contest of ideas related to how Nigeria could be saved.

Durotoye, said on his own contribution that the absence of the two men as a matter of pride, saying that pride comes before a fall.

Moghalu said the two men did not come because they did not have answers to the questions troubling the country.

“They cannot answer the intricate questions of the economy or even security on which they rode to power”, the YPP candidate said.

“They are not here because of arrogance. They believe we cannot without you. They believe we are trapped. They are not here because they cannot answer the questions.
“One of them is a kettle and the other is a pot and they call themselves black.”
The three candidates subsequently took questions on insecurity with Moghalu tracing the continuing insurgency in Nigeria to corruption, saying that instead of Nigeria degrading Boko Haram, the Islamist group had degraded the Nigerian military.
He pointed out that Nigeria was the poverty capital of the world, and added that the North-East was the poverty capital of the country as he vowed to squarely tackle the problem of poverty in the region.
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Durotoye, on his part vowed to harness intelligence to address the problem of insecurity in the country and through it beef up the capacity of the military.
Ezekwesili said she would make the military and indeed Nigerians know that “there is a new sheriff in town” and at the same time bring a new approach by sending special forces after insurgents.
Economy
The three candidates spoke extensively on the economy.
On diversification, Durotoye pledged to focus on agriculture, housing and road construction which, according to him the three most important sectors.
“We will ensure we fix power, roads and provide housing for our people and that should create 30 million jobs for our people”, he said.
Ezekwesili said she would lift no fewer than 80 million Nigerians out of poverty.
“Nigeria, our country, is in dire need to be rescued urgently. According to Chinua Achebe, the problem of Nigeria is massive failure of leadership”, she said.
“When people are more productive, they earn more, when they earn more, they lift themselves out of poverty. Our plan is to lift at least 80 million Nigerians out of poverty”, she said.
“I bring with me, a track record of service. I have the capacity, the competence and the character to take this country to where it deserves.
“We have no business being the world capital of poverty. Our politics have become politics by the politicians, of the politicians and for the politicians”, she added.
Besides questions posed by the moderator, the candidates responded to online questions asked by comedienne, Emmanuela, a former Big Brother Nigeria housemate, Bisola Aiyeole, among others.





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