In Nigeria, debate for candidates seeking election into elective offices is a useless process. This is a fact but for the sake of staying on the safer side of this conversation, I will rather put it out as my opinion, formed from my observation of past elections and debates.
Hold also for a fact that this is not to support the seemingly irresponsible way candidates of major political parties treat the people with respect to their usual boycott of the debate organised by various bodies as when done.
I have come to this conclusion because the debates and the performances of the candidates have not in any way changed the course of an election in Nigeria. This is to say that the electorates have made their decisions way before this day. I think it is fair enough as elections are closer to the debates than the actual campaign process. In many cases, the candidates would have been engaging different groups in the society before the debates and they might have formed enough bases for the people to make their decisions.
The above is an assumption which does not necessarily hold true in Nigeria. The majority of voters in Nigeria don’t bother about what the candidates want to achieve through the office they seek; they are more concerned with the most popular political parties. This is why it is hard to fault those who have decided to stick with either the devil or his younger brother. It is safer for them to pick from being in the frying pan or in the actual fire.
Remember that the people get the kind of leader they deserve and this is what the Nigerian politician has mastered so much that he now uses against the people. They are aware that the number needed to seal their victory wouldn’t bother about debates; after all, they didn’t even provide electricity.
Away from this, the absence of Buhari and Atiku from the debate is another way to deepen their hypocrisy. They do not “rate” Nigerians enough to make out time for them. I would have understood if Atiku was “holed up” in the States and couldn’t make it back to Nigeria early enough to attend the debate or that Buhari got stuck in traffic while campaigning in Jos and couldn’t return to Abuja on time.
Atiku dealt himself a bigger blow by going to the venue only to say he wouldn’t participate because Buhari was absent. It says only one thing – and this will be the same mistake we made during the Jonathan days – get Buhari out at all cost. His (Atiku’s) concern was just to slug it out with Buhari and not about telling Nigerians what plans he has for us.
For president Buhari, if we take what Bashir Ahmaad said on Twitter to be the official position of the President, then Buhari has only established the fact the he doesn’t care about Nigerians. He has continued to rub this in through his silence on many issues that affect the people and his love for foreign media outlets.
That being said, the outcome of the polls will not be affected by the debate that held yesterday.
However, the ‘ratings’ of Moghalu, Fela and Aunty Oby might be better and some people might begin to look in their direction, it begs one question, “how better are these new chips off the block”?
Recall that Fela and Moghalu contested the PACT’s consensus election where they were meant to pick a candidate for the third force and Madam Oby was there as an observer/umpire. How then is Fela and Kingsley still candidates of different parties? What happened to walking the talk?
I bet we would not have an answer to that until we have a glimpse of whatever happened at that election. This is worrisome for me but I also admit that it shouldn’t in any way make us question their competence or lack of it.
In the same vein, we must begin to ask organisers of these debates why they don’t extend the invite to their debates to every candidate that will be on the ballot paper for a particular election. Does this not go on to cement the truth that a larger number of people contesting are truly inconsequential in the race?
If not, how then do they arrive at the ones to invite for the debate? Do they bother if it affects the perception of people on the debates and the candidates that are left out?
Whatever happens, until the people of Nigeria begin to wield the power they have in unison, we will never get out of this mess.
On the day of election, don’t sit down in your houses; get up to vote for your preferred candidate.