Director of Media and Publicity of the Campaign Organisation of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has seen the decision by All Progressives Congress (APC) not to participate in the presidential debate being organized by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) as a ploy to shield its Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari”s intellectual aziness from Nigerian and the international audience. This is even as Fani-Kayode’s counterpart in APC, Mallam Garba Shehu said that Buhari is prepared to face President Jonathan or anybody in public debate, but not the one being organised by broadcast stations that have denigrated and maligned his person and his family.
Different statements from the spokesmen of the two rival parties indicated that Fani-Kayode insisted that the APC knows that General Buhari will flunk it if he is subjected to the rigours of debate on issues of national governance and development, Garba Shehu made it clear that General Muhammadu Buhari has been preparing for other debates to which he has bee invited are.
Fani-Kayode said he was aware that the APC had already expressed its concerns, when approached by an international news channel for a debate, about the intellectual acumen of General Buhari, and had assured the news channel that it was only comfortable with its vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has capacity to feature brilliantly on the programme.
“We have just read a report in the media credited to the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation that the party would not allow its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to participate in the radio and television presidential debate organized by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
“The APC accused the organisers of the debate of unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates.
“Whilst we will not bother ourselves with the many reasons adduced by the APC, we wish to state that we see the APC decision as an attempt to shield its presidential candidate from displaying his intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.
“We had envisaged that the APC would be reluctant to expose General Buhari to the rigours of a live television debate because the opposition party knows that its candidate will flunk it.
“If the APC truly believes that it is ‘a party of progressive intellectuals’, as it claims it should allow General Buhari to prove that at the debate.
“Should the APC fail to participate in the debate, it would also show the disdain both the party and its candidate have for the Nigerian people, denying them the opportunity to make informed choices on the basis of what each candidate will articulate as propositions on issues that will be raised.
“We are convinced that General Buhari does not have what it takes to sustain a coherent argument on germane issues of governance and development.
“We challenge General Buhari to a debate on any national and international medium of mass communication and our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan will be ready to participate.
“On the other hand, President Jonathan’s running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo, is also ready to participate in the debate and any other debate.
“Our presidential candidate and his running mate will not raise flimsy and escapist excuses such as “unhidden bias” and the like, since we believe that they are well-rounded intellectuals who have been prepared by their experience in office to answer any question under the sun on the governance of our nation.” [myad]