Why Peter Obi may no longer attend presidential debates – Campaign Council

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The Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the Labour Party (LP) says its candidate, Peter Obi, will no longer attend debates where other candidates are not present.

Director-General of the PCC, Doyin Okupe, said this at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.

He said the absence of presidential candidates in debates has become a growing trend in the 2023 electioneering.

Presidential candidates of four of the 18 registered political parties, on Sunday, appeared at a town hall meeting to dialogue with citizens.

Candidates in attendance at the event organised the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Arise Television, were Mr Obi, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Kola Abiola of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

Also present was the PDP vice-presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa, who represented Atiku Abubakar, while Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was absent.

“Let us make it clear today, that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation,” Mr Okupe said.

“While our candidate Mr Peter Obi and vice presidential candidate, Dr Yusuf Baba-Ahmed, are prepared at all times to engage other candidates and the Nigerian people in any duly scheduled debates, town hall meetings and any other appearances as designated and scheduled.

“This election season, they will only be prepared to mount the podium, with their peers in this presidential race, and not with any surrogates or diversionary delegated representation.

“This stand is taken with the utmost respect for the rights and desires of Nigerians to full and direct information, and first hand responses and presentations necessary for the best assessment of worthiness, capacity, capability, competence, character, integrity and disposition, as required to make the right choice in these coming election.”

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The PCC DG recounted that on Monday 22 August, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) invited the leading presidential candidates to address its Annual Bar Conference and the Nigerian people at the epic occasion.

He said again on 13 and 14 September, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited the major parties’ presidential candidates to interact with them and the Nigerian people.

He said that the event was an opportunity for them to unveil their economic and general policy initiatives as a prelude to the presidential election.

He, however, said that while Mr Obi and other invited candidates appeared in person, the presidential candidate of the APC sent his running mate to represent him.

“Once again, yesterday Nov. 6, at the First AriseTV Town Hall Meeting, in contradiction to the understanding reached with the organisers allowing only presidential candidates to attend the event.

“The vice presidential candidate of the PDP was allowed to represent the presidential candidate,” he said.

Mr Okupe said this sparked a protest and rowdy situation by supporters of other presidential candidates present.

 

“Obi and the Presidential Campaign Organisation totally condemn this disregard for the electorate and the people, by these absentee presidential candidates.

“The decision to present oneself as a presidential candidate does not start and end with the purchase, submission of forms and certification as a candidate by INEC.

“It also forebodes on the candidate a high degree of responsibility to present himself for open discussions and explanations on his policies, visions and plans for the people to enable a better understanding and engender an appropriate choice by the electorate in the coming election.

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“Anything short of the simple, transparent and honest adherence to this basic contract of responsibility, falls short of the standards of fair contest and engagement. This could only be interpreted as a mischievous evasion of the desired interface with the people.”

He said it was totally reprehensible and inconceivable why any presidential candidate should think that they are doing the voting public and indeed all Nigerians a favour by appearing in person.

Mr Okupe said Mr Obi was currently the leading candidate in this presidential race, and yet did not display the baseless and arrogant disposition of some of his co- candidates.

“The joint ticket in a presidential election, and in a substantive presidency, is a constitutional provision for temporary or permanent substitution, where the presidential candidate is primarily incapacitated or otherwise critically unavailable,” he said.

(NAN)

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