Festus Keyamo, the spokesperson of the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), has declared that Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling party, may not attend any presidential debates before February’s presidential election.
Mr Tinubu on Sunday shunned the presidential debate organised by Arise Television and a civic group, the latest such miss by the APC candidate.
In his reaction to why Mr Tinubu was absent at Sunday’s event, Keyamo said Mr Tinubu did not attend to avoid “selective appearance.”
Mr Keyamo, in the Sunday statement, explained that several television stations have indicated interest to host similar events. However, Mr Tinubu has no plan to attend any but prefers to speak to Nigerians directly, he said.
“Firstly, many radio and TV networks in Nigeria have indicated interest to host such debates and out of deference to other TV and radio stations, our candidate will not be making selective appearances on some networks, whilst ignoring others,” he said.
Sunday’s debate, tagged Arise News presidential town hall series, was organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development and Arise Television.
Before Sunday’s miss, Mr Tinubu had avoided similar events by the body of lawyers, NBA, and the body of chartered accountants, ICAN. Mr Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, attended the NBA event in his stead but the candidate had no representative in Sunday’s debate.
Although the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar did not attend Sunday’s debate, he was represented by his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, who disclosed that the former vice president is out of the country.
Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Kola Abiola of the Peoples Redemption Party, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) attended the Sunday event in person.
Mr Keyamo, in the statement, said the candidate cannot afford to attend one debate while ignoring others.
He also claimed that the candidate has other engagements and so is unable to attend the debate series.
He added that the candidate will prefer speaking directly with voters through town hall meetings and campaign rallies.
Mr Tinubu’s decision to avoid the debates prior to February’s general election is not expected to go well with millions of voters, many of whom had raised concerns of his penchant for avoiding public scrutiny. Many have taken to social media to criticise him for being absent at Sunday’s debate with one of the other candidates, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP, taking a jibe at him.
However, the candidate of the ruling party appears unperturbed by the criticisms.
Read the full statement by Mr Keyamo below.
The APC Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming 2023 Presidential Election, ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, did not attend the Presidential Debate organised by ARISE TV on Sunday, November 6, 2022, for the following reasons:
Firstly, many radio and TV networks in Nigeria have indicated interest to host such debates and out of deference to other TV and radio stations, our candidate will not be making selective appearances on some networks, whilst ignoring others. As President of Nigeria, by the Special Grace of God, he intends to treat all persons and businesses fairly and equally.
Secondly, the busy and hectic campaign schedules of Asiwaju Tinubu will not permit him to honour all such invitations by different radio and TV networks, hence our decision for him not to start with one TV station and later ignore others.
Thirdly, our candidate had long before now realised the importance of speaking directly to Nigerians and shortly after unfolding his Action Plan as President embarked on Town Hall meetings beginning with his interaction with the Business Community and other stakeholders in Kano followed by the Town Hall meeting and presentation by experts last week in Lagos
Tomorrow, he will be interacting with Agro and Commodity Groups in Minna, Niger State.
Whilst we thank Arise TV for the invitation, we want to assure Nigerians that we shall continue to hold these debate groups and Nigerians in high esteem. Nigerians will hear from our candidate loud and clear through other forums.
Lastly, out of profound respect for Nigerians, we urge all our party structures and supporters at the grassroots to continue to organise town hall meetings to educate Nigerians on the Action Plan of our candidate as we believe a grassroots-approach to reach Nigerians will also be more profound.