Sowore and Duke excluded from list of five candidates who will participate in televised presidential debate

OMOYELE Sowore and Donald Duke have been excluded by next year's presidential debates after the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (Bon) omitted them from its live broadcasts.


In February next year, Nigeria goes to the polls, with about 70 candidates expected to run for president and in line with convention, there will be at least two televised debates involving the candidates. Due to the large number of contestants, the NEDG and Bon have had to cut down the number of candidates who will appear in their debates to five, so they selected those they perceived to be the frontrunners, which excludes Messrs Sowore and Duke.


According to Eddi Emesiri, the NEDG executive secretary, the parties that will participate in its public debate include the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Young Progressives Party (YPP). This means the presidential aspirants expected to be involved in the debate are Atiku Abubakar, Muhammadu Buhari, Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu.


According to the timetable just released, the vice presidential debate will hold at 7 pm at the congress hall of the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Friday, December 14, 2018, while the presidential debate will take place just over a month later, on Saturday, January 19, 2019. Both debates are expected to be transmitted live on all Bon stations and its affiliates and across major social media platforms.


However, Mr Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), has cried out over his exclusion from the debate as well as not being invited to the signing the Peace Accord agreement of presidential candidates which took place yesterday.  At the event, President Buhari signed an agreement with 68 other presidential candidates assuring that he will uphold the highest standards of conduct and peaceful elections.


This Peace Accord represents an undertaking by all the presidential candidates to ensure peaceful and rancour-free campaigns before, during and after the 2019 general elections. However Mr Sowore, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Ms Ezekwesili were absent from the event.


Mr Sowore said he was not officially informed of the agreement. He also blasted organisers of the presidential debates over exclusion of his name from the list of those who will participate in the televised broadcast.


“First they excluded the AAC party from the signing of Peace Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding by Presidential Candidates and Party Chairmen in Abuja today. I has also just emerged too that they don’t want me to participate in the presidential debates as they claim I am out of control and may spill what I know about these oldies publicly during debates.


“This is exactly what they are afraid of. They can’t stand the revolutionary spirit of a youthful fearless Nigerian sharing the podium with old cargoes to debate Nigeria’s future."


Meanwhile, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was also absent from the signing of peace accord, said he was not formally invited to the signing of the peace pact. However, the government said his absence was due to a communication mix-up at the headquarters of his party the PDP.