by Kolapo Olapoju
After citing ‘bias’ as reason for his refusal to attend the presidential debate prganised by Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) on Thursday, January 29, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, has been giving an unbiased platform, by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), to hold debate alongside the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan
Garba Shehu, of the directorate of media and publicity of the APC presidential campaign organisation, had explained that the boycott was due to the “unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”
However, the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), in collaboration with CNBC Africa, Forbes Africa and BusinessDay, has expressed its intention to hold a presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the two leading parties, APC and PDP.
The candidates will get an opportunity to debate live on television to millions of Nigeria, to whom they will present their proposed agenda to the electorate.
The MMF ‘2015 Presidential Election Debates’ will see Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, Jonathan’s running mate and his APC counterpart, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) face-off in the first leg, while Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari will go square up in the second leg,
The back-to-back debates are scheduled to hold in Abuja, on Sunday, February 8.
Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, chief executive officer of the foundation said: “The debates have been expressly designed to elevate the level of political discourse in our country, enhance participatory democracy as well as re-focus attention on national growth and development during this election period.”
“We believe, at this point in time, that our people should focus more on issues-based election and critically scrutinise potential leaders before making up their minds on who they will vote for. We, along with our partners, see this debate as a platform for the candidates to present their programmes so the electorate would make their choice on whom to vote for in the elections.”
“The need for a debate is non-negotiable given that the development of democracy in Nigeria has increased voter sophistication.” Frederic Van de vyver, executive director of CNBC West Africa, said the debates would attempt to address the major economic issues facing Nigeria. “We look forward to conducting a robust debate on the major economic and business issues facing Africa’s largest economy on the eve of one of the most important elections since the end of military rule in 1999,” he added.