- Blames the reluctance of candidates, political parties
BY EDMOND ODOK – Nigerians’ desire to hear presidential candidates from different political parties present their economic plans for the country in a public debate ahead of the 2023 general elections has already suffered a serious setback.
No thanks to the obviously uncooperative attitude of some presidential candidates and their political parties, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) suspended the presidential debate on economic policy scheduled for Tuesday, November 15 in Abuja.
Although the NESG did not clearly state the reasons for its decision, inside sources said that the presidential candidates of the two main political parties, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remained hostile and resistant to rational public debate among the standard bearers.
But hinting at what prompted its sudden decision, the private sector-led think tank and policy advocacy group said the action had become necessary after “a critical assessment of events surrounding recent engagements with presidential candidates. presidential election, as well as subsequent statements by political parties”. ”.
A statement announcing the group’s decision said the debate “will no longer take place as scheduled due to current circumstances”, adding; “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this decision may cause our stakeholders and all Nigerians.”
However, despite being forced to temporarily abandon the process, the NESG maintained that since the debates are essential to the electoral process and increasingly seen as a tradition and the foundation of a healthy democracy, it would “actively seek independent direct engagements with candidates on critical economic issues”. policy reform issues and prescriptions”.
According to the statement signed by its Director General, Laoye Jaiyeola, the debates “embody fundamental principles that ensure that citizens are informed and actively involved in leadership choices and decision-making.
“At this critical time in our country’s history, it is now more important than ever to push Nigerians towards informed voting choices that result in transformational leaders who know and understand the issues that will lead our country to economic prosperity. shared”.
The NESG said it was in this context that it had decided to facilitate a presidential debate, alongside the NEDG, in collaboration with other concerned groups, stressing; “We envision a Nigeria where electoral debates are an integral part of the electoral process, and candidates are keen to engage citizens in discussions about their tenures, experience, abilities, knowledge and general skills for the positions they they are looking for”.
As a non-partisan organization with a mandate to help build an economic base for democracy, the NESG said; “We remain committed to providing a platform for such engagements in the national interest.”
The group explained that the now scrapped debate was intended to provide a unique platform and opportunity for presidential candidates to discuss their economic agenda in a civil discourse environment.
It was facilitated by the NESG and the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG), in collaboration with the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Enough is Enough, BudgIT as well as Radio, Television, Theater and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU).