A Purposeful Presidential Debate
On March 29, some of the frontline candidates in next month's presidential election are expected to participate in a television debate. Last Thursday, however, three of them announced they were pulling out, owing to dissatisfaction with the People's Democratic Party's Goodluck Jonathan, who skipped a previous encounter on March 18.
The StandPoint urges those candidates: Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Shekarau and Nuhu Ribadu, to reconsider their decision. Their decision is understandable, but it is at the expense of the larger national interest.
The March 18 debate was somewhat diminished by the absence of Mr. Jonathan, who is the candidate of the ruling party. His failure to appear at the scheduled event certainly betrayed the confidence of the other contestants. They had every reason to expect him to be present—and therefore every reason to feel hard done by. But true leadership, in the end, is service writ large. And service is never as empty as when it is devoid of sacrifice. That is why we urge the presidential debate protesters to sacrifice their justifiable anger for the greater good of Nigeria.
It has also been speculated that one of the reasons the other candidates are reluctant to participate is that BON, a government agency may give the President an undue advantage. It is therefore important for BON to level the playing field and work to earn the confidence and trust of other participants. Perhaps, the questions should be shared ahead of time to each presidential candidate.
We also understand that the upcoming debate is being co-organized by organizations including the Nigerian Election Debate Group and the Democratic Institute of the USA. This should be impetus for all the presidential aspirants to participate.
No longer is the public debate merely an essential component of a modern democracy; it is now even a measure of its very health. Where one of the candidates in a presidential contest is the incumbent, as in our case, it is the best possible campaign forum for him to demonstrate the potency, perhaps even indispensability, of his government. By the same measure, it is the most efficacious forum for other candidates to electrify and inspire voters with their vision and their preparation for presidential responsibility.
We challenge the candidates at the upcoming debate to seize the opportunity to demonstrate to Nigerians their genuineness and their readiness for responsibility at the highest level. For too long, Nigeria has suffered from a dearth of men sufficiently seized with the patriotic zeal to sacrifice and serve. We therefore challenge the presidential debaters to bring to the homes and hearts of Nigerians a clear and committed understanding of the principal challenges besetting our fatherland.
We will expect to hear from them an articulate elucidation of how they intend to reverse years of decay, double-talk, manipulation and corruption. Let us hear from the incumbent and his challengers not the self-serving circumlocution and platitudes that govern much of Nigeria's political discourse, but well-conceived responses to the Nigerian condition. Let us hear not empty clichés, but purposeful policy proposals capable of pulling Nigeria out of the quicksand. Let us have a robust, productive and vigorous debate that is capable of re-igniting the hopes of our people.
We hope that the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the organizers of the debate, will ensure an unimpeachable production and make the debate widely available on online and offline channels. While the NN24 debate was excellent, we would have loved to see one or two additional interviewers. It is also essential that each participating campaign is clear as to the format of the event in order to avoid incidents of speakers being abruptly halted in the middle of their statements.
Finally, while the upcoming debate will be carried on an impressive number of television networks, it is ironic that most Nigerians are unlikely to see it live because Nigeria lacks one of the basic elements of modern life: electricity. We therefore urge the participating networks to schedule repeat broadcasts in the week that follows in the hope that more Nigerians will be able to see it.
I thought the video out there is a video of debate? Anyway may I invite the Prof of grammartics to take a good look at it because he has a lot of job opportunities there oo.
Hope this debate will be civil and not combative.
How would participation in a debate that is suspected to have been rigged ab initio serve the national interest of Nigeria. Jonathan chickened out of the past debate because his request to receive the questions in advance was not met. What guarantee do we now have that the NTA has not satisfied that condition? We nedd vigorous debates, but not stage-managed ones. I support the decision of Buhari, Ribadu, and Shekerau. Let Jonathan go and do the NTA debate with whoever he would like to have there.
I am fed-up with these "Politics of Personality"!
One cant even know what they stand for, and therefore what to hold them accountable for!
These personalities "have no idea" what governance is about but plenty of ideas about what "ruler-ship and power" is all about.
Let them just articulate how "POWER" will be stable within two years, in this country and that would be start. Let all of them "sign-on" concerning "Power of Recall" when they become President.
Actually, they are very boring people.
"It has also been speculated that one of the reasons the other candidates are reluctant to participate is that BON, a government agency may give the President an undue advantage"
You have already answered why the other contestants will not attend the debate...
Thanks to NN24 for the presidential debate - I enjoyed it in-spite the fact that the incumbent President did not show up.
The consequentialities of not showing up in a political debate is creating a distance between aspirant and voters.
A candidate vying for presidency should be eager to sell his policy through debates. Am looking forward to next presidential debate!
Democratically Nigeria is growing - glaringly, the next one will be better: Nigerians vying for number one job in the country must be eloquent enough to face voters in debates.
One expects the three candidates to change gears and attend the forthcoming debate.
Any strong presidential candidate who can defend his programmes before any body any where would crave any opportunity to sell himself to the people. GEJ made mistakes by not attending the earlier debate, but two wrongs can not make a right.
AND TO THE DEBATE MODERATORS:
Please do not hide from the participants the question of reintroduction of fiscal federalism to Nigeria ---because we can no longer afford to have:
a country where people and groups continue to decimate the trust between them through the endless bitter struggles over which of them must control the central purse and polity,
a failed system where the federating groups do nothing other than wait for Abuja on pay day,
a unitary system that deters Nigerians to compete for theirs and their country's prosperity.
Your crisp editorial advocates that Shekarau, Buhari and Ribadu quickly reconsider their boycott of the B.O.N planned presidential debate, a few days away, so that the public could hear "... articulate elucidation of how they intend to reverse years of decay, double-talk, manipulation and corruption...
But the trios presence, by itself, can not bring about any such articulation.
The presidential debate is planned to run for 180 minutes. There are 18 presidential candidates. If each candidate is to have equal time, the best and certainly most improbable result is that each candidate shall have ten minutes in total.
But even that is assuming that there are no moderators asking questions of any candidate to further cut the maximum overall time to seven minutes per candidate.
That's surely not a debating setting for "... articulate elucidation of how they intend to reverse years of decay, double-talk, manipulation and corruption..."; however cut or diced.
A stand has to be taken somewhere. Taking part in this "debate" is capitulation, and a sign to PDP that the other parties are indeed push overs. Why give GEJ a chance to restore his honour?
Foreseen Events In a Buhari Presidency:
If ever a Buhari Presidency from May 29, 2011 comes to be, the following events have been foretold:
On-going power, rail and other gigantic projects cancelled based on feckless excuses.
News Houses closed for publishing the truth.
Journalists maimed or jailed for writing the truth.
Tunde Bakare shut off from participation in any government decisions.
Every imaginable politician jailed.
Nigerdelta insurgency takes a wider dimension.
Secessionist moves across the land rekindled.
Religious crisis and intolerance assume a wider dimension.
Political tremor in the land; and at last, no military man can be blamed for striking: after all, Nigerians through their votes made it legal and sent the sweet message to Nigerian soldiers that any of them can wake up any day, prepare any excuses, take over civilian government, amass wealth , retire or be overthrown, and come back after and gets voted in as civilian president.
I support NVS call to the candidates to re-think their decision. I stand to be corrected, but BON is not owned by the government as its membership includes private media stations such as AIT. And if the candidates have any specific issue with the modalities for conducting the debate, they should convey it to the organizers. I don't see what GEJ has to lose by this unimpressive boycott.
For candidates who have been trying to present themselves as national leaders rather than ethnic lords, a joint statement by co-competitors announcing a joint boycott is starting to appear like a gang-up. And this will further polarize the country along the north-south divide.
I believe every candidate should seize all opportunities to advertise themselves with both hands, that is if they really have anything to offer.