Why I shunned Presidential debate – Atiku

By Valentine Amanze

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has explained that the absence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the 2019 Presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), forced him to withdraw from participating in the event.

Atiku, the former vice-president, disclosed this in a press statement on January 19, 2019.
“With all due respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu, and to the moderator and with all apologies to my Fellow Nigerians here and at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret that I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence,” he said.
He added that the candidates came for a Presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, “and I, Atiku Abubakar, cannot challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.
“I do not believe in attacking a man who is NOT here to defend himself. As a leader and former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC Presidential candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on ALL of us and our democracy.”
Atiku, however, challenged the President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and he (Atiku) will be there.
His words: “I, however, challenge President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well. Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that Atiku flew into Nigeria on Saturday from the U.S. for the debate.

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