THE presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu won’t be available for the December 4 town hall meeting organised by Arise Television in conjunction with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), his campaign council said on Friday, November 25.
In a statement signed by the Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, the council said the organisers did not consult the candidate or his team before announcing the date for the meeting.
Tinubu is expected to appear on the programme alongside his rivals in the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi. The four candidates are the leading contenders for the presidential poll slated for February 25, 2023.
While rejecting the invitation, the APC campaign council said: “Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement by Arise News in connection with a town hall meeting scheduled for December 4. We are surprised that the TV station listed our candidate, Bola Tinubu, as a participant when there was no prior consultation with him and his aides and no consent from the candidate obtained for the advertisement.
“We deem this as professionally wrong and reckless. No media organisation should arrogate to itself the right to railroad any candidate to fit into its agenda.”
The group said Tinubu could only appear on a media outfit that is mutually acceptable to all.
It stressed that the APC would continue to meet people who are strategic to his ambition, warning that Arise TV should stop using its candidate’s name and portrait in its advertisements.
Arise TV and the CDD have featured contestants twice on the programme in the past few weeks.
Among those who attended the meeting are Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress, Prince Adewale Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party, Yabagi Sani of Action Democratic Party and Prof Peter Umeadi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance.
Meanwhile, Peter Obi’s team has said he would no longer feature in any debate where other major presidential aspirants do not appear. They said Obi would pull out even at the last minute.
The next edition of the programme will focus on education, health care, poverty and human capital.
The ICIR reports that debates are prerequisites for free, fair and credible elections. They help the electorate fully understand the manifestoes of candidates and their parties, thus aiding their choice during polls.
This newspaper reports that while other major candidates have been featured on national television for interviews, where they expounded their manifestoes and other critical issues, Tinubu is yet to feature on any since the campaigns formally took off on September 28.
The winner of the presidential election is expected to salvage the nation from its present socio-economic turbulence.