The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation on Saturday said it was sad that President Muhammadu Buhari shied away from a debate at the time Nigerians expected him to give an account of his stewardship in office.
The Director, Media and Publicity, PDP PCO, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, was at the venue of the presidential debate only to discover that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Buhari, was absent at the debate.
According to him, the PDP presidential candidate has insisted on debating with Buhari, adding that he is still ready to meet the President anywhere and anytime for the debate.
Atiku said, “I cut short my trip to the United States and returned to Nigeria because I know that the majority of Nigerians want to listen to me at the debate.
“However, I have come to the venue of the debate. I waited until the beginning of the debate and I cannot find the candidate of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, for whom I have returned from my trip to debate.
“I insist that I will debate President Buhari any day, anytime and anywhere, including the Aso Rock Villa.”
Buhari could not attend the 2019 presidential debate because the programme clashed with his other major activities, according to the spokesperson for the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress, Festus Keyamo.
Keyamo said in a statement, “Firstly, out of several opportunities afforded our candidate to interact with the Nigerian people directly by different organisations, our presidential candidate has taken full advantage of another town-hall meeting organised by another group which held on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
“He was also joined at that town-hall meeting by our vice-presidential candidate who is also the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
“Nigerians from all walks of life who were physically present and through on-line platforms asked uncensored questions which were adequately answered. It was also transmitted live by various broadcast networks in Nigeria.
“In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme. Today, Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau states where his time was overstretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both states, (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening.”
Meanwhile, the Presidential Candidate of Young Peoples Party, Kinsley Moghalu, has identified corruption in the military and marginalisation as major causes of agitation and insurgence in the country.
He added, “Many years ago, the government entered into an agreement with various countries for the production and supply of military hardware. Today, this country has by-passed those agreements and for years has been using private agents for the procurement of military hardware of doubtful quality and viability.”
Moghalu took a swipe at Buhari and Atiku for not participating in the debate.
A former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied People’s Congress, also said at the debate that Nigeria‘s major problem was leadership.
She highlighted her major vision as eradicating poverty in the county, lamenting that an average Nigeria’s daily earning was N700.
She said, “Nigeria needs to be rescued urgently. Just like Chinua Achebe said that the problem of Nigeria is leadership. What we see in our country is massive failure of leadership.”
Also, the presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria, Mr Fela Durotoye, who noted that Nigeria was blessed with human and natural resources, said, “We have failed in the place of leadership and governance. We will build a Nigeria where there will be jobs, opportunities and where no people who do not know anybody can get a job without having somebody somewhere.