By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
The Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim campaign organisation has condemned it’s 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 Progressive 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.
The PT, which is fielding Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim as its presidential candidate, had recently emerged top amongst the nearly 28 newly registered political parties fielding candidates for political positions in the next years’ presidential elections, with 194 persons running on its platform.
The PT, in alliance with other parties is promoting the presidential candidacy of Mr. Olawepo-Hashim has a total of 194 contestants on its platform, including 140 for the House of Representatives, 52 for the Senate and one apiece for 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 candidates included in the debate apart from Alhaji Atiku performed woefully in terms of spread, in comparative terms, 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.
Recently, the weekly Facebook rating of presidential candidates in Nigeria had recorded that Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim had made headstart over others in the data released on Monday, December 10, 2018, in Abuja, where he recorded Facebook engagements of 28,000, to for instance Atiku Abubakar who had 24,000+.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress 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”
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”
“Why the organisers listed the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for purpose of legitimacy in their shortlist for the debate, the inclusion of the weakest candidates on the platform, or the newest parties exposes their devious intentions”
According to the party, Nigeria is internally bleeding because of the many ineptitude of the All Progressive Congress (APC). What the country is looking forward to is an honest platform of debate to halt the hemorrhaging, not a forum to whitewash the problem by mostly a collection of pretenders to the presidential contest.
The PT called on supporters, concerned Nigerians and the electorate to take note of the APC shenanigan and their selected allies that they have been encouraging in the polity to suck off votes that otherwise will not come to them.
“We urge Nigerians not to be disturbed by this development as genuine people’s debate is in the works where concrete solutions to many problems dealing with Nigeria will be proffered. Our campaign will be part of this new debate with many patriotic candidates who truly want to see a better Nigeria in 2019”