2019: Nigerian Election Debate Group releases dates for presidential debates

FILE: President Goodluck Jonathan and other presidential candidates at the 2015 Presidential Election Debate
FILE: President Goodluck Jonathan and other presidential candidates at the 2015 Presidential Election Debate

The Nigerian Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria on Thursday announced schedules for the 2019 presidential election debates.

The vice-presidential debate would hold on December 14, 2018, while presidential debate would hold on January 19, 2019. The venue is Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The debates would focus on economy, electricity supply, job creation, health, security, amongst others, organisers said.

The guidelines for the debates would be released by the organisers to ensure the objectivity of audiences and steer negotiations between broadcasters and the parties.

It was not immediately clear whether candidates have indicated interest in participating, especially the candidates of major political parties.

During the last presidential election, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress did not participate. But Goodluck Jonathan, incumbent president at the time, took part.

Meanwhile, the group has called for a law to compel candidates to participate in election debates.

The chairman of the group, John Momoh, said at a press briefing announcing the debates schedules that it is important for candidates to participate in debates so as to explain their decisions and plans to the people.

He, however, said that most times some candidates failed to show up, a practice that would be proscribed in the proposed law.

He said that efforts were made in the past to have a debate commission, but that the bill, after passing first and second readings, was stepped down at the National Assembly.

“Our nation is strongest when our elected leaders are transparent, accessible and accountable to its citizens, explaining their decisions and answering tough questions,” Mr Momoh said. ” “This standard of openness must start long before election day.”


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