President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to take a decision on whether he will take part or not in the presidential debate slated for January 19, 2019 by the Nigeria Election Debate Group.
But the Peoples Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party said their candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Donald Duke respectively, would take part in the debate.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Election Debate Group, Mr John Momoh, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the group had fixed January 19, 2019 for a debate for presidential candidates of different political parties taking part in the 2019 elections.
Momoh, who is also the chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, said the debate series would, however, start on December 14, 2018 when vice presidential candidates are billed to take their turns.
He added that the debates would hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, and would be broadcast live by all BON members.
He said the debate would focus on the nation’s economy, electricity, job creation, health care, education and security, among others.
Momoh said Nigeria would be strong when elected leaders were transparent, adding that such openness must start long before election.
He said, “Our nation is strongest when our elected leaders are transparent, accessible and accountable to its citizens, explaining their decisions and answering tough questions. That standard of openness must start long before election day.
“It is for this reason that the Nigerian Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria are organising a vice presidential debate on December 14, 2018 and a presidential debate on January 19, 2019.
“The debates would hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja and will be broadcast live on all BON member radio and television stations across the country.
He added, “The debates will also be streamed live on all mobile and social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to give it a global coverage.
“Among others, the debates will focus on the issues that matter most to working families; restoring our economy, providing electricity, creating jobs, securing health care for every Nigerian, making and achieving excellence in every Nigerian school and ensuring safety and security for Nigerians.
“The Nigerian Election Debate Group would set the format and rules of the debate, handle moderation, outline the criteria for political party participation, ensure the objectivity of audiences and steer negotiations between broadcasters and the parties.
He said Nigerians would expect the leaders of all political parties to be challenged in a very public and robust way in these debates.
In justifying the debates, Momoh said it was a well-known fact that Nigeria, in spite of its potential, was faced with a social crisis that began way back during the military era and had been with the democratic rule since.