The candidate of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, Bola Tinubu, may not attend any presidential debates before February’s presidential election, his campaign team said Sunday night.
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, Festus Keyamo, the spokesperson of the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) 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.