The presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Democracy (ANN), and Young Progressives Party (YPP) have slammed President Muhammadu Buhari (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (PDP) for shunning Saturday’s presidential debate.
Obiageli Ezekwesili of ACPN, Fela Durtotoye of ANN, and Kingsley Moghalu of YPP, who were at the presidential debate, said the absence of Buhari and Atiku from the debate showed that they and their parties have no regard for Nigerians and lack the answers to critical questions.
Ezekwesili said, “I’m not surprised they are not here. They have just simply announced their exit from the governance of our country.
“I think it is important for us to acknowledge that there is a political class that needs to fade away from our country because the idea that the will of the people will be subordinated to the whims and caprices of our politicians should be a total anomaly and, today, as we in this country focus on the ideas that will develop our country if the two dominant parties cared about the Nigerian people, they would come here in order to have a contest of ideas on how we would fix Nigeria.
“I must let you know that for the Nigerian people, this is a moment to make a clear judgment as to whether we are connected to the issues that matter to the Nigerian people.
“We showed up for this debate not because we are new entrants into politics but because we believe it is time for a new kind of governance in Nigeria.”
For Moghalu, their absence smacked of the arrogance.
He said, “I am not at all surprised that the leaders of the APC and the PDP have decided to turn their back on the people of Nigeria and tell them finally, they never amounted to much in their eyes.
“The reason why they are not here: one is arrogance. They believe the people of Nigeria have no voice and no choice. They believe that you cannot move away from them.
“They believe they have trapped you, they have kept you in bondage for over too long and it is now time for us to send them a message. The second reason why they are not here is because they cannot answer the questions. Very simple, very straight-forward. They belong to the old class of recycled politicians who want to come to power with a sense of entitlement.”
Durotoye stressed that both Buhari and Atiku have set themselves up for a fall.
He said, “Well, it seems that the future is here. Pride always comes before a fall and every time you believe that there is no need to tell the people the things you are going to do, it means you are not there to serve them in the first place; you are going to rule over them.
Like Moghalu, Durotoye said Nigerians should not be surprised by their absence.
“This has been consistent over the last 20 years,” he said. “We have had 20 years of rulership and rulers do not explain to their subject what it is they are going to do. They don’t owe it to them. I think the greatest deceit we have to deal with in this nation is that rulers call themselves leaders and make us, subjects feel like followers. We are not followers, we are subject to them.”
The Nigeria Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria had invited the trio along with Buhari and Atiku for the Presidential debate.
While President Buhari did not show up at all, Atiku showed up at the venue only to leave without participating in the event. He blamed his decision on Buhari’s absence.