Yesterday’s debate

by Cheta Nwanze

To be up front, I am NOT going to be voting for any PDP candidate in the coming elections. I am of the opinion that their party has done a lot of damage to Nigeria in the last decade.

However, watching last Friday’s NN24 Presidential debate, I was reminded that democracy is all about choice. The debate itself was excellently moderated by 234NEXT’s Kadaria Ahmed, my former boss, and it left me wondering about my earlier criticisms of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) candidate, Ibrahim Shekarau. At the start of the debate, I was disappointed in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate’s response to the first question thrown at him, about his relationship with the party’s head-honcho, Bola Tinubu. But to his credit, Nuhu Ribadu recovered quite well. General Muhammadu Buhari is not as articulate as either of the other two debaters, but you could see that he has a passion on a level that neither of the other two have. And maybe in a democracy that is not good.

You see, democracy by its very nature involves some horse-trading, something I do no think that Buhari is quite capable of. But then I digress…

I must throw in what Timothy Igbinosun, a childhood friend of mine remarked. He said, “Try not to ask the questions in a perfect circle. You will keep catching the first person unawares giving the opponent time to think, analyse the question and jot down responses. Buhari answered majority of questions on impulse (besides the fact that he is not such a good public speaker.) Ribadu picks the rebound from the General’s stutter, and Shekarau buries the case smoothly (on top of being a great orator!) So for each question, start with someone new and alternate accordingly.”

Very wise words.

I was quite impressed by Mr. Shekarau’s performance. My earlier crticisms of him stemmed from his handling of the vaccination issue in Kano some years ago, the very question which Kadaria asked him, and boy, did she corner him. However, the man composed himself well, even though his answer to my cynical mind was a lot of political crap. That aside, Mr. Shekarau appears to have a good understanding of the issues facing Nigerians. I am going to dig into his record as Kano state governor better, and get back to you with my opinion before the elections.

Ribadu also performed well. He is passionate. He also tended to break the rules governing the length of time the speakers were allowed. To less discerning people, he would appear arrogant, but I would call him supremely confident. I think his best response was with regards the question on hospitals. Nigeria NEEDS functioning hospitals in the country.

Frankly, the General’s performance was below expectation. However, I blame it on the fact that he is not as articulate as the other two. My biggest disappointment in the debate though, is that no one dwelt on the issue of transportation long enough. Kadaria only gave them 30 seconds or so each on that critical sector.

Ultimately, what came out of yesterday’s debate is that there is not much to choose between the candidates, and we still have a long way to go. However, and in my not-so-humble opinion, any one of these three candidates is a better choice than the current President. Especially after the President’s slap-in-the-face-to-all-of-us of not turning up. Kadaria was always going to ask the relevant questions, it is obvious that GEJ did not want to face those questions, hence his accepting to be ‘interviewed’ by a musician the day before.

What is unfortunate is that (and I know that I sound very elitist here) members of the proletariat I spoke to yesterday (two taxi drivers) were so impressed with GEJ’s ‘humility’ in accepting to be interviewed by Kokomaster. That is probably an indicator of direction the coming elections will take. Our people have been so miseducated, that they can no longer tell the difference between shit and roses. The people who had access to yesterday’s debate were mainly the elite. The proletariat saw GEJ and his musical performance of the day before, and were impressed by it. The proletariat outnumber the elite almost by 90 to 1.

That, is probably the true tragedy of our existence.

This article was originally published in DailyTimesNG

One comment

  1. This is a nice review..

    My issue is with Shekarau only! Please in digging into his record in Kano, why don't u visit the State, 2 days is enough and let us know if what you see looks like a functioning govt, the type u envisage for Nigeria. His people would not be hating on him if he has done well in the past 8 years but others that don't know anything about Kano seem to think we are just "hating"

    It is simple, if he has indeed been great, he would not need to blow his own trumpet, people will do it for him, just like Fashola.

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