GIVE US DEBATES, NOT JOINT APPEARANCES
I had the pleasure and opportunity of attending the Vice Presidential “debates” today in Abuja. I want to start by commending the Nigerian Elections DebateGroup (NEDG) for the efforts that went into organizing and holding these activities. Any platform provided by any group of citizens to allow Nigerians know the plans or lack of plans of those who seek their votes is a great service to the nation.
However, I submit that these are Joint Appearances, not debates. To refer to these activities as they are presented so far, as debates, is a misnomer. The rules are such that allow for no criticism of any party’s reported agenda or record or lack of record. No exchange or interaction between the candidates is allowed, and the candidates are not allowed to ask each other any questions. Even to comment on a proposal offered by an opposing candidate or to mention an opposing party’s name is prohibited. In essence, candidates’ claims and assertions go unchallenged by opposing candidates.
The NEDG can do better. Otherwise, it might as well record 30-minute infomercials for each party and broadcast them. If they seek a debate, their current rules are in the way of real and meaningful debates.
I believe the candidates can engage one another while still maintaining the desired decorum, respect, and politeness that the NEDG wants to see in the “debates.” Nigerian voters are not babies who cannot take vigorous exchanges between their candidates for office. I respectfully ask the NEDG to revisit its rules for the Presidential debates scheduled for February 8, 2015. The presidential candidates should be allowed to engage one another and to challenge the assertions and claims of their opponents.
The writer, Dr. Ugorji Okechuwku Ugorji, is the Director General of the Chekwas Okorie Presidential Campaign Organization (COPCO).[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]