Director General of the Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation, Doyin Okupe, stated that the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, will not participate in debates if his opponents from other parties do not show up.
Okupe announced this at a news conference in Abuja on Monday
He stated that Obi will no longer debate with surrogates or running partners, and he will withdraw from any debate at the last minute if other presidential contenders do not appear.
Sunday’s Town Hall Meeting was attended by Obi, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), and Kola Abiola of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State and vice presidential candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), represented Abubakar Atiku, while Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, were absent.
Obi confronted Dino Melaye, spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Management Committee, during a Sunday presidential town hall meeting hosted by Arise TV.
The conflict began when Dino Melaye referred to a meeting attendee as “Obi people.”
Dino was heard shouting “Na wa o, Obi people” as a member of the audience stood to question the presidential contenders.
After hearing Dino’s statements, Peter Obi lashed out at the PDP official.
Obi said, “Stop that Dino. Why are you always calling me? I won’t take that. This man is from ANPP. Why are you calling him Obi people?”
But, Dino feigned ignorance but Peter Obi insisted that he will not condone such behavior.
Dino demands an apology
Dino Melaye, spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, demanded an apology from the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, over his outburst at an Arise TV presidential townhall meeting on Sunday.
He said: “I was sitting opposite where they’re sitting yesterday. I didn’t mention his name. I was really surprised to see that type of outburst from a presidential candidate. Is that the type of president he’s going to make? Just taking on people anyhow?
“He rather called me out. I didn’t call his name nor do anything. So that outburst is unwarranted, very unpresidential, unacceptable of a leader. A leader must be mature. One who wants to govern this country must be accommodating, must have a lot of patience and perseverance. These are basic characteristics of leadership anywhere in the world.
“You want to be president of Nigeria and you’re reacting such a manner in public. So I want to clear the air that there was nothing I did. He was so provoked and so carried away by the performance of Governor Okowa. Obi was so disorganized and disoriented.
“Next time when you want to go for a debate, be as calm as Okowa. That’s very unpresidential and I deserve an apology.”
Should Peter Obi keep attending these debates/townhall meetings?
It’s no secret that Peter Obi is one of the major candidates for the Presidential election. He is also the most-talked-about candidate and it won’t be a far stretch to say that he is the people’s choice for the 2023 presidential elections.
One of the distinguishing traits that set him apart from other contenders is his readiness to meet Nigerian citizens where they are.
Recently it was reported that he suspended his presidential campaign to visit parts of the country ravaged by flood.
This is something Nigerians have always looked for in a president. Someone who they believe empathizes with their struggles—someone who they can hold accountable.
These presidential debates/town hall meetings present Peter Obi with the opportunity to emphasize that he cares about the Nigerian people and that he intends to join office to serve, not to amass wealth.
Failure of other presidential candidates to show up to such meetings should have no bearing on his willingness to attend. His focus should be the Nigerian people who want to hear from him and addressing their concerns as regards the nation.
Nigerians have had leaders who have failed to show up not just for debates but for their entire tenure. This is a chance to distinguish himself from that set.