The candidate of Nigeria’s ruling party, the APC, Bola Tinubuwill not be able to attend any presidential debates before the presidential election in February, his campaign team said on Sunday evening.
Mr Tinubu avoided the presidential debate on Sunday organized by Arise Television and a civic group, the latest for the APC candidate.
In his reaction to why Mr. Tinubu was absent from Sunday’s event, Festus Keyamo, the spokesman for the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), said Mr. Tinubu was not not present to avoid “selective appearance”.
Mr. Keyamo, in Sunday’s statement, explained that several TV stations have expressed interest in hosting similar events. However, Mr Tinubu does not intend to attend but prefers to speak directly to Nigerians, he said.
“First of all, many radio and television networks in Nigeria have shown interest in hosting such debates and out of respect for other television and radio stations, our candidate will not be making selective appearances on certain networks, while ignoring others,” he said.
Sunday’s debate, labeled presidential town hall series Arise News, was hosted by the Center for Democracy and Development and Arise Television.
Prior to Sunday’s failure, Mr Tinubu had been avoided similar events by the body of lawyers, NBA, and the body of accountants, ICAN. Mr Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, attended the NBA event in his place, but the candidate had no representative at Sunday’s debate.
Although Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar did not attend Sunday’s debate, he was represented by his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, who revealed that the former vice president was out of the country.
Peter Obi of the Labor Party, Kola Abiola of the People’s Redemption Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) attended Sunday’s event in person.
Tinubu be fair avoiding all debates
Mr. Keyamo, in the statement, said the candidate could not afford to attend a debate while ignoring others.
He also claimed that the candidate had other commitments and therefore could not attend the series of debates.
He added that the candidate will prefer to address voters directly through town hall meetings and campaign rallies.
Mr Tinubu’s decision to avoid debate ahead of February’s general election is unlikely to sit well with millions of voters, many of whom had worried about his penchant for avoiding public scrutiny. Many took to social media to criticize him for missing Sunday’s debate with one of the other candidates, NNPP’s Rabiu Kwankwaso, mocking him.
However, the ruling party candidate seems unfazed by the criticism.
Read Mr. Keyamo’s full statement below.
The APC presidential candidate for the next presidential election of 2023, ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, did not attend the presidential debate organized by ARISE TV on Sunday, November 6, 2022, for the following reasons:
Firstly, many radio and television networks in Nigeria have shown interest in hosting such debates and out of respect for other television and radio stations, our candidate will not make selective appearances on certain networks, while ignoring others. As President of Nigeria, by the special grace of God, he intends to treat all people and businesses fairly and equitably.
Secondly, Asiwaju Tinubu’s busy and hectic campaign schedules will not allow him to honor all these invitations by various radio and television networks, hence our decision for him not to start with a television channel and ignore the others later.
Thirdly, our candidate had long since realized the importance of speaking directly to Nigerians and shortly after unveiling his plan of action as President, he embarked on public meetings beginning with his interaction with the business community and other stakeholders in Kano, followed by the public meeting and presentation by experts last week in Lagos
Tomorrow, he will interact with Agro and Commodity groups in Minna, Niger State.
While we thank Arise TV for the invitation, we want to assure Nigerians that we will continue to hold these talkgroups and Nigerians in high regard. Nigerians will hear our candidate loud and clear through other forums.
Finally, out of deep respect for Nigerians, we urge all our party structures and grassroots supporters to continue to hold public meetings to educate Nigerians on our candidate’s plan of action, as we believe that a grassroots approach to reaching Nigerians will also go deeper.
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