Peoples Trust Faults Decision of Election Debate Group

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Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

Nseobong Okon-Ekong

The presidential candidate of Peoples Trust (PT) political party, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim’s campaign organi-sation has condemned its exclusion from the scheduled presidential debate by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), alleging that the selection of candidates is biased, anti-democratic and an agenda of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).

Spokesman of the presidential candidate, Mr. Hassan Ibrahim, stressed that the exclusion is no doubt regrettable because the party had long indicated interest in participating in the debate.

The spokesman said it was their hope that the debating group was not working for the APC to undermine the strides the party is making with its spread across the country.

PT, which is fielding Olawepo-Hashim as its presidential candidate, had recently emerged top among the nearly 28 newly registered political parties, fielding candidates for political positions in the next year’s elections, with 194 persons running on its platform.

The party, in alliance with other parties, is promoting the presidential candidacy of Olawepo-Hashim, and has a total of 194 contestants on its platform, including 140 for the House of Representatives, 52 for the Senate and president and vice-president.

Following closely the PT are the JMPP 182; MPN 176; the ADP 136; the ZLP 115, and the ACD 106.

The PT said candidates included in the debate apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar performed woefully in terms of spread and comparativeness in the just concluded nomination exercise.

While Kingsley Moghalu had 70 nominations, Fela Durotoye had 21, and Oby Ezekwesili had 50. The PT nomination was 194 signifying national spread, acceptability and effectiveness of political structure.

According to the party, recently, the weekly Facebook rating of presidential candidates in Nigeria had recorded that Olawepo-Hashim had made head start over others in the data released on December 10, 2018, in Abuja, where he recorded Facebook engagements of 28,000, while Atiku had 24,000.

President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the scheduled February 16, 2019, poll had recorded 16,000+ engagements, while Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and the other presidential candidates were trailing far below with single digit ratings. “These are incontrovertible data, not the sentiments or wishful thoughts of individuals. They empirical evidence that can be easily verified,” it stated.

The statement regretted that it was surprising that despite these records, the party is being excluded from the debate in what looks like a stage-managed process.

“We urge Nigerians not to be disturbed by this. The PT is working with other political candidates who are interested in having their voice heard towards the 2019 presidential election, and we shall surely triumph in stopping this subterfuge,” the party promised.