2019: Group seeks law to compel candidates to participate in debates

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The Nigerian Election Debate Group on Thursday called for a law to compel candidates to participate in election debates.

The Chairman of the group, Mr John Momoh, made the call while briefing newsmen on preparations for the forthcoming presidential and vice presidential debates in Abuja.

According to Momoh, it is imperative for candidates to participate in debates so as to explain their decisions and plans to the people.

He, however, said that most times some candidates failed to show up, adding that a law put in place would compel candidates to participate in the exercise.

He said that efforts were made in the past to have a Debate Commission, but that the bill, after passing first and second readings, was stepped down.

“One major challenges facing us as a nation is the threat to national unity, among others.

“Many of these problems stem from decisions made by our leaders behind closed doors; other times openly from regulations removed when no one was looking or from reckless actions taken while authorities turned a blind eye.

“Our nation is strongest when our elected leaders are transparent, accessible and accountable to its citizens, explaining their decisions and answering tough questions.

”This standard of openness must start long before election day,” the chairman said.

He said that it was for this reason that the Nigerian Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria was organising a presidential debate on Dec.14, 2018 and vice presidential debate on Jan.19, 2019.

He said that the debates would hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, adding that the debates would focus on issues of economy, electricity supply, job creation,health and security, among others.

Momoh said that the group would set the format and rules of the debate, ensure the objectivity of audiences and steer negotiations between broadcasters and the parties as Nigerians expected all parties to be challenged.

NAN

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