Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organization has said that a presidential debate would afford its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, a platform to showcase his record of achievements in office but that
his major opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, if he changes his mind to attend the debate, will only be making empty promises.
Director of Media and Publicity of the Organization, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, told newsmen in Abuja today that majority of Nigerians have already taken their decision to vote for President Jonathan because “they have seen the efforts of this government and what has been going on for the last four years.”
Fani-Kayode said that but for those that are yet to decide and perhaps for those who are leaning towards Buhari, “if we have a live debate and everybody is allowed to speak his or her mind freely and fairly, I assure you that by the end of that exercise, General Buhari will be exposed for what he is and President Jonathan will be able to give the Nigerian people a glimpse of what he has to offer and also a good account of his records for the last four years.
“That is why the other side is running away. So, I think at the end of the exercise, after such a debate, whether APC-organized or whether organized by anybody else, President Jonathan will come out in flying colours while General Buhari will come out a very unhappy man.”
He reiterated that the APC, whose candidate does not want to participate in the debate, should “organize the debate, fill the panel with friends, set the questions, give copies of the questions to their candidate before the debate and even prepare answers for him.
“They can do all that; and not only will we still attend but we will also floor them. We will make any concession in order to have the opportunity to debate with Buhari and show the Nigerian people how empty and shallow he (Buhari) really is.
“We have stated our position loud and clear that our candidate is prepared to participate in any debate organized by anybody at anytime and anywhere in this country provided it is live and provided we have the opportunity to speak our mind in a free and fair manner.
“It is the other side that is running away from this challenge. One wonders why. We have absolute confidence in Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) and, indeed, in anybody else to organize the debate.
“As a matter of fact, let me take this opportunity to throw the challenge to the APC and General Buhari: if it will make him feel more comfortable, let them organize the debate; let it be an APC-organized debate; let them have an APC panel; let them have questions that they will show their candidate even before we get there; we do not need to see the questions; let them give their candidate a preview of the questions; they can even have a prepared answer for their candidate to read if he finds it difficult to articulate his views and positions. We are prepared for all that.
“Let them have all those advantages and tell us about what they are going to do. As long as it is a live debate, we will be prepared to go even to that debate; and, even at that point, under those circumstances, we would floor General Buhari and the President will do an admirable job by letting the Nigerian people know precisely what he stands for and he will also expose General Buhari for what he is.
“So, whatever the circumstances, we are ready to go. The challenge has been put to them; we are waiting for them to respond. Anywhere, anytime in this country, we are prepared to participate. It is the other side that is running away.”
Fani-Kayode said that PDP had complete faith in the Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria (BON) that is organising the debate, adding: it has been doing similar thing for years.
“That is precisely why we are saying that if they are not comfortable with BON or anybody else; then we are telling you loud and clear that the APC themselves with their party members organize a debate.
“Let them be the ones to organise it; let them set up the panel; let them bring out the questions; let them show their candidate the questions before hand and let them prepare answers to those questions for their candidate. Let them write it down for him; let them come and we will still debate with them as long as it is live and as long as our candidate is allowed to give his answers and as long as he is not cut short.
“As long as they would do that, we are ready to debate with them. Even in those circumstances, General Muhammadu Buhari would not be able to stand against President Goodluck Jonathan. They know that; we know that and the entire country knows that and that is why they are running away.” [myad]