Nigeria’s Premier Presidential Debate Begins Sunday

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  • Buhari takes the first shot Atiku, others to follow

By Olawale Olaleye

As part of its many contributions to the enhancement of the country’s electoral culture and improvement of the process of electing leaders, THISDAY Newspapers and Arise News Television are beginning a presidential debate series sunday  at 10pm, with President Muhammadu Buhari and candidate of the ruling All progressives Congress (APC) as the first guest.

Although, debuting sunday with President Buhari as the first guest, other candidates like former Vice President and candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are to follow in no particular order but based on their availability and schedule for the interview.

The first of its kind, the first leg of the debate series, which is billed to hold at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, is to be anchored by panelists from both THISDAY and Arise, led by the Chairman of the two media outfits, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena.

On the THISDAY arm of the panelists are the Managing Director of the newspaper, Mr. Eniola Bello; his deputy, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; Chairman of the Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi; Editor of THISDAY, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi; Editor, THISDAY on Sunday, Mr. Shaka Momodu, and his counterpart on Saturday, Mr. Yemi Adebowale.

From the Arise wing are the Managing Director, Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu; Managing Editor, Adebajo Awosemo; Arise News Anchor, Charles Aniagolu; Arise News Anchor, Adesua Omoroun; Arise News Anchor, Tundun Abiola, and Arise News Anchor, Ndee Amagbuo.

This premier presidential debate, which is devoted solely to presidential candidates of the major political parties contesting in the election, is meant to enrich the electoral process by engaging candidates to speak about their plans and the process of executing such plans without ambiguity and in a way that would enhance the process of choice making by the electorate.

Unlike the archetypal debate, where many candidates are assembled to debate one after another across many issues, this is designed to feature one candidate per series, engaged by the panelists, with ample time to reflect on their manifesto and other issues of governance, particularly their capacity to sell same to the best of their ability.

By extension, the debate initiative is also designed to compel intending presidential aspirants to begin to see the need to be part of a debate culture, where issues affecting the nation – from politics to the economy, security and infrastructure, among others – are dissected with clear understanding of what those issues are and their ability to sell them convincingly.

This, however, is unique because it is original and exclusive to THISDAY Newspapers and its sister organisation, Arise News, and would remain a part of the nation’s electoral process, thus, raising the bar of the leadership recruitment process and by implication, providing the platform for the electorate to make informed choices at every election.