President Muhammadu Buhari

All Progressive Congress (APC) has said its presidential candidate, president Muhammadu Buhari opted out of the presidential debate because he had taken due advantage of other platforms to address pertinent issues raised by Nigerians.

The much advertised 2019 Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) held yesterday without the participation of the two leading candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The absence of Buhari and Atiku drew angry reactions from the other candidates present, with the presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, saying their nonappearance was a statement of their “exit from governance”. The other candidates spoke in similar tones.

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But in a statement last night, the APC Presidential Council said Buhari could not attend the debate because he had met Nigerians on other platforms and answered pertinent questions. The council also claimed the president’s busy schedule was part of the reasons for his absence.

Atiku said he left the debate venue because Buhari was “not present to defend himself or his policies.”

In a dramatic twist, Atiku walked out of the debate while he was about to be introduced. The moderator, Mark Eddo, was set to introduce the PDP candidate when a female protocol officer quickly passed a note to him, apparently, announcing his exit.

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Shocked by the content of the note, Eddo said, “This is live TV and anything can happen.” He moved on to introduce the Young Progressives Party (YPP) candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, as the last candidate for the debate. He later revealed that Atiku actually came for the debate but walked out at the last minute.

The session, which offered presidential candidates an opportunity to present their policies before a live audience, featured the presidential candidates of ACPN, Ezekwesili; YPP, Moghalu; and Association for New Nigeria (ANN), Mr. Fela Durotoye.