In preparation of Sunday’s third edition of the presidential town hall meeting organised by Arise Television, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, has given certain conditions to his counterpart from the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, to meet before engaging him in a debate.
Conditions given by Tinubu include the release of his manifesto for Nigerians for scrutiny.
After he refuted appearance from previous editions. Tinubu once again would not attend the third edition of the presidential town hall meeting organised by the television station in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
The third edition, is aimed at education, healthcare, poverty, and human capital, and is expected to host Tinubu, Obi, standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) presidential hopeful, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
His spokesman Festus Keyamo, yesterday reported that Tinubu said Obi should also list his achievements during his tenure as governor of Anambra State before any debate can hold.
Keyamo said Obi should name any political party he formed and should disclose those he had mentored in politics who are still with him before asking for a debate.
“Before Obi can stand shoulder to shoulder with Asiwaju to debate, he should first release a manifesto for scrutiny; then he should list his tangible achievements as governor of Anambra compared to the tangible achievements of Asiwaju as governor of Lagos State.
“Then he should list those he has mentored in politics from the days of his being governor, who are still with him now; then he should tell us any political party he has either formed or partnered to form and which he still belongs to today,” he said.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment added: “Then he should list his democratic credentials, that is, what he did to contribute to the return to democracy from military rule and what he has since done better than Asiwaju, to sustain our democracy. After all these, we shall send them one of our spokespersons to debate with him.”
But Arise TV has insisted candidates participating in the 2023 presidential election must respect the Constitution and ensure they respond to questions from the media on their manifestos.
The broadcast media had at the weekend announced that its third presidential town hall series will hold on December 4, with four presidential candidates expected to attend on the said day, to which the Tinubu campaign organisation said its presidential candidate will not attend, citing lack of prior discussion on the matter with Arise TV, as a reason for the non-attendance.
The campaign organisation also warned Arise TV against using its candidate’s photograph on advertisements for the town hall meeting. But in another poster announcing the town hall meeting on Tuesday, Arise TV listed Tinubu as one of the invited candidates, and quoted section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people,” the aforementioned section reads.
The broadcast media said it is expected of a presidential candidate to “respond to questions from independent journalists.
“In furtherance to this constitutional duty, Arise news channel will host the third in the series of the presidential town hall and expects all candidates seeking elections to form a government under this Constitution, to respect the letters and spirit of the law, either on Arise news channel or any broadcast channel or media of their choice, to respond to questions from independent journalists, in keeping with the fundamental objectives, responsibility and accountability required by the Constitution for those who wish to lead us,” Arise TV added.
MEANWHILE, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has charged presidential candidates of all the political parties to be specific on how they hope to go about solving Nigeria’s multifarious problems.
Agbakoba, who gave the charge, yesterday, in Lagos during the presentation of Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL)’s Policy Report 2022, titled: “Big Issues for the 2023 General Elections,” listed the problems to include lack of unity, disorder and insecurity, as well as rising debt in the country and shrinking revenue, among others.
This was as the legal luminary said the manifestoes of parties were generally good and issues-based, but could be made better by spelling out in details how they hope to address the knotty issues bedevilling the country.
One of the issues, Agbakoba insisted is that presidential candidates must address the legitimacy of the 1999 Constitution. The erstwhile leader of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), who addressed the media in his Apapa, Lagos office, together with a partner in his law firm, Collins Okeke, said he is concerned that none of the candidates has mentioned how they will address restructuring and devolution of power.
Agbakoba stressed that the candidates must include in their respective manifestoes how they would address the alarm raised by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that 133 million Nigerians are living in multi-dimensional poverty.
His words: “What we are looking at is how the 2023 elections have been projected by political candidates. Some of the candidates have written manifestos. We also noted from the several manifestos we reviewed that the plans do not include ‘how to’ and many big issues are missing.
“The political economy is very critical for any nation, but that of Nigeria is extremely fragile. Incidentally, none of the candidates touched the link, even though they talk about the economy and politics separately. It is very crucial in democratic studies that there is a linkage.”
According to him, unless we deal with the political arrangements that Nigerians agree to, we’ll never have peace.
“There is a lot of talks, a bit of it is now going away, but the underlining currents suggest that the illegitimacy of the Constitution remains a problem. The Constitution was given to us by the military and there is a very strong feeling, particularly among the sub-nationalities that you can’t get this thing right unless you go to the issue of how we got this Constitution? I’ll encourage the candidates to look at this.
“Second is the issue of restructuring, balanced federation or devolution of powers. The candidates didn’t quite stress this, what that means is that we have a government in Abuja, doing far too many things.
“Three is the absence of local government, it’s a big gap and no candidate refers to it, but I feel it’s important for us to know because the local governments deal with 90 per cent of the population of Nigeria. What exactly will the president in 2023 do in relation to the local governments,” he asked among other critical issues he raised.
IN another development, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said the level of vote buying in the country has assumed an alarming dimension. He also said the Commission’s sensitive materials and staff were in grave danger due to insecurity, reiterating that the menace was still a big threat to the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu raised the concerns while giving his goodwill message at a yearly summit of political parties and stakeholders organised by the National Institute of Strategic Studies (NIPPS) in Abuja yesterday.
The Chairman, who was represented by a Director in the Commission, Mrs. Hauwa Habib, called on political parties to properly educate their members on the dos and don’ts of the Electoral Act as amended.
Also speaking, former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who was a keynote speaker, regretted that political parties have now resorted to elect their candidates on cash-and-carry basis. Jega also said that issues-based campaigns have been abandoned by the parties that have weaponised religion and ethnicity.
THE British government has again expressed its readiness to offer strategic support to electoral process in Nigeria to guarantee transparent and credible 2023 general election.
British High Commission to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, who gave the commitment yesterday in Kano, noted that peaceful and credible elections are fundamental to survival of democratic system in Nigeria.
Laing spoke at the opening of “Convergence 4.0”, the fourth capacity building series organised by Yiaga Africa for young political aspirants drawn across the 19 Northern states.
Laing, who was represented by development director, at the British High Commission, Dr. Christopher Pycroft, said British government will continue to strengthen capacity of INEC to deliver credible elections and support Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to increase citizenship participation during the polls.
The convener and Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, regretted how young people are being sidelined by older generation in politics, despite the larger population of the young generation.
Itodo lamented that despite the motivation of the young people to participate in democratic process, issues of commercialisation of the process, undue substitution of candidates for selfish interest and other deficiencies remain a major challenge.
ALSO, APC vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, on Tuesday, declared that if elected into office, their administration would have no business in reducing poverty but to eliminate it completely in the country.
Shettima stated this while speaking on behalf of Tinubu at the unveiling of the Tinubu/Shettima Crowdfunding Application in Lagos. The party is targeting a N5 billion donation for its campaign. It was gathered that about N200 million was raised within minutes the app became active.
But the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation has advised Tinubu to apologise to Nigerians for reportedly presenting a photograph of former Cross Rivers governor, Donald Duke, in a documentary as himself (Tinubu).
Spokesperson, Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement on Tuesday that “Nigerians were miffed by the reported disingenuous use of Duke’s picture in the said documentary to portray Tinubu, purportedly at his young age, which again confirms the dishonesty of the APC Presidential Campaign and further questions the personal integrity of the APC Presidential Candidate.”
According to Ologbondiyan, the gale of questions and controversies surrounding the personality of Tinubu smacks of a merchandise in “Oluwole market, a Lagos Centre where anything was possible.” He noted that such reputation does damage to any individual seeking to lead a nation like Nigeria with over 200 million citizens who are in dire need of a credible, transparent, honest and truthful leader.
“Our campaign believes that Tinubu should apologise to Nigerians for making them to believe that he was the one in the said picture of former governor Duke and using it to gain followership in the documentary that was part of his campaign materials being used to canvass for votes,” the group demanded added.