* AAC, ANRP react
By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) have selected five political parties that will participate in the upcoming presidential debate.
A statement by Eddi Emesiri, NEDG Executive Secretary, revealed the participating political parties are Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).
The five presidential candidates are Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye, Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and Kingsley Moghalu.
The vice-presidential debate will hold from 7pm at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on December 14, 2018, while the presidential debate is scheduled for Saturday, January 19, 2019.
However, some of the presidential candidates excluded from the debate have questioned the reason behind their exclusion by NEDG and BON.
The African Action Congress (AAC), in a statement by Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, Director-General of the TakeItBack Movement/Sowore 2019 Campaign, issued on Tuesday, read: “We demand to know the criteria that were used for selecting the parties that will participate in the debates.
“The AAC is one of the three largest parties in Nigeria. In fact, we were within the top three parties in the online poll that was organised by Channels TV to determine the participants in the presidential debates. We demand that the unaltered results of that poll be published.”
He added that it was unconscionable that their candidates would be left out of the vice-presidential and presidential debates at the expense of smaller political parties that neither have the reach nor the strength commanded across the country by their party.
Also the presidential candidate of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Tope Fasua, in a statement issued Wednesday, read: “In what would clearly be the first salvo towards rigging the 2019 elections, the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG), leveraging on the auspices of the publicly-funded Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), and using the platform of Channels Television, chose with much impunity to shrink the political space by announcing that it shall be hosting only five political parties for the grand debate of presidential candidates.
“The Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) has always emerged among the top four political parties that Nigerians want to see in the debates. We believe we were deliberately excluded because our out-of-the-box views are not wanted by the Nigerian status quo, who want to continue to see Nigerians feed from the gutters while they maintain existing advantages.”
He urged Channels TV and its founder/Chairman not to lend themselves to such travesty, or jeopardise their hard-earned reputation because of pressure from places of power, or the need to maximise profitability, adding that this upcoming debate be immediately jettisoned and reviewed.