The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO) is insisting on the participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari in a live television debate with President Goodluck Jonathan.
Director of Media and Publicity of the PDPPCO, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, said that the PDP was ready to attend any debate, anywhere in the country with the APC candidate even if that debate was organised by the APC’s spokesman Lai Mohammed, and the APC itself, as long as it would be televised live.
Buhari had said he would not participate in the debate being organized by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) for 14 presidential candidates and their running mates.
The APC candidate alleged bias because, according to him, the organisers of the debate were federal government agencies and parastatals.
“The decision of the APC not to participate in the debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) on the grounds of alleged bias is baseless and absurd. The decision of the APC to boycott the debate provides ample evidence of their cowardice and their unrelenting contempt for the Nigerian people,” Fani-Kayode said.
“The truth is that the electorate would like to see the presidential candidates of all the political parties square up in a television debate to answer questions on their blueprint for governance and national development.
“The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation is interested in our candidate, President Jonathan, engaging General Buhari in a robust and lively debate so that both men can speak about issues like corruption, insurgency, the fight against terrorism and the economy all of which are areas in which Buhari has grounded his unjustifiable and mischievous attacks on our candidate.
“Since the APC is not comfortable with anyone else handling and organising the debate and since they keep alleging bias on the part of any sensible and impartial organizer, we challenge them to organise the debate themselves. As long as the debate is live and they will allow our candidate to speak his mind on all issues, without any interruption and without cutting him short, we assure them that we will attend. Our candidates-President Jonathan and his Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo will take up the gauntlet and join issues with them anywhere in this country and at anytime as long as the Nigerian people can witness the event live and as long as it is done openly for the world to see.
“We know that they may have a few challenges with the English language; so, if they like they can even conduct the debate in vernacular: we would be prepared to pay for a translator or an interpreter just so that they could understand the proceedings. Whenever they want to organise such a debate and wherever they choose as the venue, we will be there, as long it will be televised live. This is because we believe that under any circumstances and in every situation President Goodluck Jonathan will give Buhari the thrashing of his life in any frank and open discussion about his record in public office.”
Meanwhile, Labour Party (LP), yesterday, urged Buhari to participate in the debate.
The party said Buhari’s participation in the debate will dismiss doubts on his ability to administer the nation.
In a statement by its National Secretary, Mr Kayode Ajulo, the LP pointed out that the debate would help put issues in proper perspectives, devoid of propaganda.
According to him, “the excuse given by the APC candidate that the organisers were Federal Government agencies is not tenable because INEC too by law is a Federal Government agency. It then follows that if Buhari should boycott the debate, then he ought to also boycott the election since it is being organised by a federal agency (INEC).”
The party scribe noted that the expectations of Nigerians and the international community will be dashed if Buhari should stay away from the debate. He stated that the major contenders in the election should take advantage of the debate platform to clear all doubts about issues raised against them by their opposition.