A proposal for leaders debates was first mooted at the 1964 general election when Harold Wilson challenged then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home to an election debate. Douglas-Home rejected the proposal because he was worried about the unpredictability of such a debate and not wishing to give his opponent exposure as a potential Prime Minister.
In Nigeria, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is calling for a new debate after his and the current president Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC) absence at at the January 19 presidential debate organised for 5 candidates left the whole nation wondering if they are serious about solving the country’s challenges.
Atiku cut short his lobbying trip to the United States to attend the debate, but later withdrew at the venue. The president claimed ‘hectic schedule’ as his excuse for his absence.
The country was expecting an open and frank debate on security, anti-corruption, economy, education, citizens welfare, health care and Youth employment but were left disappointed especially with the absence of Mr Buhari.
In the absence of the two key candidates, the trio of Oby Ezekwesili of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, and Dr. Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive Party, YPP, took the centre stage at the debate and tried to lighten up the debate with their policies.
Buhari, on an earlier debate on Nigerian premier television station, NTA, came across as someone not too sure or confident of himself where he had a drab performance while Atiku Abubakar was bedeviled with controversy whether he is wanted or not wanted in America for corruption allegations, an allegation his political enemies used repeatedly.
The African country go to the polls 16 February 2019 to elect a new president and members of the National Assembly.