Nigerians knock Buhari for preferring rally to Presidential Debate
The much anticipated Presidential Debate held in Abuja Saturday was an anti-climax as incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who was in North central for rallies failed to show up; his major challenger, Atiku Abubakar, came for the debate but declined upon noticing the absence of Buhari.
However, Nigerians immediately took to social media to berate the President for preferring to participate in his party’s rallies and shunning a debate that would have afforded him the opportunity to “correct certain misgivings about himself,” wrote Ademola ‘Bob’ Olanrewaju.
Some Nigerians however justified Buhari’s absence, saying it is not mandatory that he must debate before the election. “He needs votes to win not grammar on television”, was the argument of Kewe Onos.
“We should not crucify Buhari for not coming to the debate. After the disgrace in the recent dialogue and at the rally in Warri, Delta State you don’t expect his handlers to still present the same man for an intellectual exercise like a debate. He took the right decision. Nobody should crucify him”, was the submission of Mr. Nedum Okafor, a Lagos-based businessman.
While some blamed Atiku for declining to debate without Buhari, others however said he should have participated to sell himself and give more details about his campaign manifesto.
But Atiku would explain his reason for non-participation thus:
“I arrived the Congress Hall of the Hilton venue of the #2019Debate. This debate and the election is a referendum on the incumbent.
“We came here 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.
“With respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu & to moderator Mark Sugar & with apologies to Nigerians here & at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence.
“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.”