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Buhari, Atiku absent from first 2019 Presidential debate

President Muhammadu Buhari and other leading candidates for the 2019 presidential elections were absent at the first 2019 presidential debate.

The debate, which was held in Abuja, and hosted by the Osasu Show, and supported by ONE campaign, Connected Development (Code) and YALI Abuja had some of the presidential candidates in attendance.

Atiku Abubakar, who is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, sent in Segun Sowunmi his director of media and publicity to represent him at the event, while President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) sent in no representative for the debate.

Other presidential candidates who participated in the debate were Oby Ezekwesili of the African Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Tope Fasua of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and Alistair Soyode of the Yes Electorates Solidarity (YES).

Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation, who was present at the event did not represent the president at the actual debate.

Speaking at the debate, Ezekwesili, presidential candidate of the ACPN, said she could have gotten angry and left, following the absence of the mainstream party candidates, but said she stayed for the debate out of respect for Nigerians present.

“When I looked and saw that the two main parties, one is absent, the second sent a representative, his spokesperson, I could have become arrogant and say I am not going to sit here, but I decided to stay out of respect for you.

“Let me make it clear, in this election every candidate must tell the Nigerian people what they are about. I have done this out of respect for you. But you would have to join me in saying, Buhari must debate, Atiku must debate. Butiku must debate,” she said.

When asked why she wanted to be president, she responded that the need to rescue the country from misguided leadership prompted her decision.

“Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world is a slur to us and the Operation Rescue Nigeria launched by the ACPN is timely. I believe that I have what it takes to lead the country out of our present predicament,” she said.

Tope Fasua, the presidential candidate of ANRP stated that his major aim would be to double the size of the economy if elected into office.

The panel session tagged ‘The Role of Inclusive Institutions, Rule of Law and Human Rights in Strengthening Democracy in Nigeria, had all the panellists present.

The panellists were Senator Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi West;  Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, Dr Ikpeazu O, Governor of Abia State, Samson Itodo,  head of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA); Hamzat Lawal, CEO Connected Development and Ovo Tarigho.

Also notably absent at the debate were Kingsley Moghalu, candidate of Young Progressives Party; Fela Durotoye, candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria; Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC) candidate and Donald Duke, Social Democratic Party’s candidate.

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