• Features
  • Updated: November 08, 2022

OPINION: Presidential Debate, A Shenanigan In Nigeria's Politics

OPINION: Presidential Debate, A  Shenanigan In Nigeria's Pol

Today, the African Action Congress (AAC) presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore voiced out that he would not condone his purported exclusion from the candidates slated to address Nigerian voters by the Nigeria Election Debate Group. Does a presidential campaign really count in Nigerian democracy and electioneering?

When the PDP was to hold its presidential primaries earlier this year, aspirants who spent most time convincing the party delegates on the podium had zero votes.

The audience did not seem interested in what they had to say. Would you blame them? They already had their candidates.

That most voters tilt towards ethnic, religious, financial or sentimental lines while casting their votes during presidential elections in Nigeria weakens the power and basis of presidential debates in the country.


Omoyele Sowore is not happy. Why would his name be reportedly schemed out of Presidential Debates in the build-up to the presidential election in 2023?

He and many others were not invited on Sunday. Does it mean that the uninvited candidates do not have a chance, choice or voice?

He insinuated via his Twitter handle that the organisation had settled for failed and clueless candidates, which he would not allow to happen.

The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) comprises broadcast organisations, civil society organisations and professional groups with the collective goal of deepening democracy in Nigeria and entrenching an enduring democratic culture through organised television debates since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

If the organisation means its mandate, it should have all candidates for the 2023 polls.

This debate and many others we have witnessed as we count down to 2023 have failed their purpose.

They always put them together to enable the Nigerian electorate to have an opportunity to hear first-hand from aspiring presidential candidates their intentions and aspirations through an equal opportunity platform.

But most of them have not been equal. Some of the anchors and organisers have been partisans over the years.

NEDG arguably has been non-partisan, non-profit making but they have also jumped on the bandwagon by not inviting the other presidential candidates from different parties for this election if the Sowore allegation is true.

Most of these debates have become face-painting and shows of popularity.

It is so because the organisers do not regard candidates who are not from the major political parties or those proceedings do not favour. 

It is also undemocratic for most organisers of these debates because they have stereotyped unpopular presidential candidates and soiled the psyche of unwanted parties.

If the closest to the people, the media, do not recognise them, how will the voters recognise or take them seriously on the day of the election?

It cannot be much worse. The banter between Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate and Senator Dino Melaye, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party at the recently held town hall meeting organised by Arise TV has shown that these political actors use these debates to come at themselves.

It does not justify the political motives of organising those debates.

These debates hardly give the candidates equal footing. Some of the organisers have got prepared questions for some candidates, which oftentimes deviates from the theme of the discussions.

Some presidential candidates do not even think Nigerian democracy is ripe for constant debates to win votes during electioneering.

They would prefer to reach out to voters in their homes, workplaces, religious centres or interest group meetings.

More depressingly, most of the debates do not get to the largest population of registered voters in Nigeria.

The uneducated voters are residing in areas that have not seen electricity for the past ten years or would not catch up with the programmes on the TV even if they could.

But they have formed the most significant number of Nigerians who turn out to vote in recent elections.

In conclusion, it appears that the multiplicity of political parties, weak political culture and socialisation, alongside the desire of presidential candidates to use crude ways to get to their supporters have made presidential debates a show of shenanigans in Nigeria.

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