By Stanley Onyekwere
A pro-democracy group, the National Democratic Front, has lashed out at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), over its insistence that President Muhammadu Buhari must be available for presidential debate ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
NDF said the former ruling party failed four consecutive presidential debate for 16 years and could not, by any means, drag Buhari into its level.
National President of the group, Audu Awulu, while speaking at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, insisted that President Buhari had during his three and half years in office literarily debated with developmental project, not media debate the opposition is clamoruing for.
According to Awulu, President Buhari has debated with projects, including those cited in geo-political zones that the PDP neglected in its wasted years.
The group, therefore, asked the PDP to bury the idea of a presidential debate with Buhari, whom they said is busy with meaningful projects that would better the nation.
“The latest of this obsessive request was from PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who challenged President Buhari to a live debate with PDP’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. We understand that the party wants the focus of the debate to be on critical sectors in the country.
“The first impression we have of this challenge is that the brains behind the PDP have a wrong notion of what constitute a debate.
“Their understanding of a debate as part of a presidential election is apparently that of the raucous shouting match they engage in on local television networks, where the most strident person is adjudged the winner irrespective of whether the views they hold and expressed tallied with reality or not.
“In the event that they are not aware, the leaked game plan of the PDP for de-marketing President Buhari specifically recommended that the party insist on a presidential debate.
“Unfortunately, rather than using the debate to gauge candidates’ commitment to moving Nigeria forward the PDP’s objective is to trivializing the debate and use it to further drive wedges among Nigerians along ethnic, religious and social strata.
“What the PDP, however, failed to realize is that the debate took place long ago and it came out the loser. The real live debate began on May 29, 1999 and the PDP had the chance to be the first speaker; the PDP had 16 whole years of four tenures to argue its point and convince Nigerians that it should remain in office for 60 years like it once hallucinated.
“In those 16 years that the PDP had to speak to Nigerians through actions it dismally flunked and dashed its own chances. They were 16 years of plundering, divisiveness, privatization of the state for individual benefits, failure to build institutions and systems while focusing on creating strong men that were more powerful than the society, they were 16 years of laying the foundation for the emergence of Boko Haram, IPOB and other toxic groups that today threaten the existence of the country.
“President Buhari with the APC have had less than four years of one tenure to the PDP’s 16 years and in that short period had debated through actions and projects on why Nigerians must never return to the Egypt of the PDP.
“In that short period of time we have seen the economy being diversified even though Atiku’s voodoo economists seek to confuse the issue by misinterpreting the resulting lifestyle changes to imply economic hardship– the PDP will not accept that the hardship it refers to is the hand-out from slush money it had gotten the citizens addicted to hence the anger of those that no longer have access to free money, those who cherish the joy honest work are full of praises for the opportunities being created under the present government.
“President Buhari’s debate in four years has seen the activation of systems that the PDP was too scared to implement in its 16 years because they know that these are instruments for curbing corruption – they claim credit for BVN, TSA and other fiscal responsibility tools that they never had the guts to implement since it would have curbed their ability to steal from Nigerians.”