Buhari, Atiku may be absent as presidential candidates debate today

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, former vice president Atiku Abubakar and three other presidential candidates are expected to convince electorates of their policies and programmes if elected at a presidential debate today in Abuja.

The debate, which begins from 7:00 pm at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, will be aired live on all BON member stations and its affiliates in live streaming on all social media platforms.

Buhari, however, might not participate in the debate. Presidential adviser on National Assembly matters Itse Sagay had on Friday said Buhari would not debate with ‘political dwarfs’.

Atiku, who is expected to return from his first trip to the United States (US) in 12 years on Saturday, said he would only attend the debate on the condition that Buhari will also participate.

Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) had shortlisted presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Oby Ezekwesili, Alliance for New Nigeria ANN Fela Durotoye, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar; and Young Progressives Party (YPP) Kingsley Moghalu for the debate.

Chairman of the NEDG and BON, John Momoh, had on November 22 told journalists in Abuja that the debate would focus on the nation’s economy, electricity, job creation, healthcare, education and security among others.

Momoh said Nigeria would be strong when elected leaders were transparent, adding that such openness must start long before election.

Buhari and vice-president Yemi Osinbajo had featured in a town hall meeting on Wednesday, where they highlighted key areas of government performance since the election in 2015.

Vice presidential candidates of the parties had debated on Saturday, 14 December 2018.

Coalition for United Political Parties (CUPP) had on Thursday alleged that Buhari was planning to avoid the debate. The PDP had also challenged Buhari to attend the debate to prove his competence to govern Nigeria.

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