Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Campaign Organisation has lashed out at the All Progressive Congress (APC) for backing out of the presidential debate saying it simply wants to shield its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari’s “intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.”
APC had backed out of the debate citing the composition of the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) as a reason for pulling out from the debates scheduled for February 8.
Director of Media and Publicity of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode stated that the APC knew that General Buhari “will flunk it if he is subjected to the rigours of debate on issues of national governance and development.”
Fani-Kayode said he was aware that the APC had already expressed its concerns, when approached by an international news channel for a debate, about the intellectual acumen of General Buhari and had assured the news channel that it was only comfortable with its vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has capacity to feature brilliantly on the programme.
Fani-Kayode said: “We have just read a report in the media credited to the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation that the party would not allow its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to participate in the radio and television presidential debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
“The APC accused the organisers of the debate of unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates.
“Whilst we will not bother ourselves with the many reasons adduced by the APC, we wish to state that we see the APC decision as an attempt to shield its presidential candidate from displaying his intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.
“We had envisaged that the APC would be reluctant to expose General Buhari to the rigours of a live television debate because the opposition party knows that its candidate will flunk it. If the APC truly believes that it is a party of progressive intellectuals as it claims it should allow General Buhari to prove that at the debate.
“Should the APC fail to participate in the debate, it would also show the disdain both the party and its candidate have for the Nigerian people, denying them the opportunity to make informed choices on the basis of what each candidate will articulate as propositions on issues that will be raised.
“We are convinced that General Buhari does not have what it takes to sustain a coherent argument on germane issues of governance and development.
“We challenge General Buhari to a debate on any national and international medium of mass communication and our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan will be ready to participate.
“On the other hand, President Jonathan’s running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo is also ready to participate in the debate and any other debate. Our presidential candidate and his running mate will not raise flimsy and escapist excuses such as “unhidden bias” and the like, since we believe that they are well-rounded intellectuals who have been prepared by their experience in office to answer any question under the sun on the governance of our nation.”
The presidential candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Dr. Chekwas Okorie also described the decision of the former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) not to participate in the presidential debate as a great disappointment.
Okorie said the staement that APC presidential candidate, General Buhari, will not participate in the scheduled debates is a great disappointment,” Okorie said.
In the statement signed by the Director-General of his campaign organisation, Dr. Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji, the UPP flag-bearer urged Buhari, “to reject his advisors’ voices and show up for the debate”.