Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has explained his refusal to participate in the ongoing presidential debate. He said he did not believe in challenging an administration where President Muhammadu Buhari, the man at the helm of affairs of the nation, was not present to defend himself or his policies.

The former vice president in a statement on Saturday, said he was physically present at the venue of the debate but decided not to participate because Buhari refused to honour the invitation.

He stated, “We came here for a Presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar can not challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.

“I do not believe in attacking a man who is not here to defend himself. As a leader and former vice president, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC Presidential Candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on all of us and our democracy.”

“Secondly, with all due respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and to the moderator Mark Sugar and with apologies to all Nigerians here and at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret that I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence.”

Atiku however challenged Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he would be present and hopefully with the other candidates as well.