•Organisers expect Jonathan, Buhari
•We are ready for even APC-organised live debate —Fani-Kayode
The Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and its other partners have fixed the Presidential Debate leading up to the February 14 elections for February 3, 2015.
The debate is scheduled to take place at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
A statement made available to newsmen indicated that President Goodluck Jonathan has already accepted to participate in the debate, noting that the campaign organisation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Buhari has also indicated – in principle – that they would also participate in the debate, though no official letter has been received from them at press time.
In a letter dated January 14, 2015, to the initiators of the debate – Channels Television, ARISE Television as well as THISDAY and Guardian Newspapers Limited on behalf of NPAN, the Olfrotcerid-General of the Jonathan/Sambo 2015 Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Ahmadu Ali, said the president “has accepted to participate in the debate”.
According to NPAN, both President Jonathan and Major-General Buhari were formally invited to the debate through a letter dated January 11, 2015 addressed to both presidential candidates and delivered the same day, noting that “our nation is strongest when our elected leaders are accessible and accountable to its citizens, explaining decisions and answering tough questions. That standard of openness and transparency must start long before Election Day on February 14, 2015.”
The statement noted that the footage of the debate will be made available LIVE to all broadcast stations as well as on social media, with attendance at the debate said to be strictly by invitation.
We’ll attend even APC-organised live debate —Fani-Kayode
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO) has expressed its readiness to participate in live television debates organised by the APC, since the opposition is complaining about the one organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
The Director of Publicity of PDPPCO, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, insisted in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday on the participation of APC presidential candidate, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) in a live television debate with President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the PDP was ready to attend any debate, anywhere in the country with Buhari, even if that debate was organised by the APC’s spokesman Lai Mohammed and the APC itself, as long as it would be televised live
According to him, “the decision of the APC not to participate in the debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) on grounds of alleged bias is baseless and absurd. The decision of the APC to boycott the debate provides ample evidence of their cowardice and their unrelenting contempt for the Nigerian people.
“The truth is that the electorate would like to see the presidential candidates of all the political parties square up in a television debate to answer questions on their blueprint for governance and national development.
“The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation is interested in our candidate, President Jonathan engaging General Buhari in a robust and lively debate so that both men can speak about issues likecorruption, insurgency, the fight against terrorism and the economy all of which are areas in which Buhari has grounded his unjustifiable and mischievous attacks on our candidate.”