Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, will no longer participate in debates if candidates from other parties are not present.
Doyin Okupe, director-general of the Presidential Campaign Council, revealed this in a statement on Monday evening (PCC).
Atiku Abubakar and Ahmed Tinubu were conspicuously absent from the recent Arise TV Presidential Town Hall discussion.
The big issue: The PCC noted that the absence of presidential candidates in debates has become a growing trend in the 2023 electioneering campaign.
The council said, “Let us make it clear today that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation.
“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, 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 elections,” they said.
They added that at the August 22 Nigerian Bar Association Annual Bar Conference and the Nigerian people at the epic occasion, and the September Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry event, all candidates were invited but, only Obi and a few other invited candidates appeared in person.
“Once again, on Sunday, November 6, at the First AriseTV Town Hall Meeting, Obi and a few other candidates attended in person, not the presidential candidates of two of the major parties attended in person.
“The vice presidential candidate of the PDP was allowed to represent the presidential candidate. 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.
“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” they added.
For the record: The APC said Tinubu did not attend the debate because the busy and hectic campaign schedules of Asiwaju Tinubu will not permit him to honor all such invitations by different radio and TV networks, “hence our decision for him not to start with one TV station and later ignore others.”