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Ex-party candidates back senate’s move for compulsory debate



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Some former political candidates on Friday in Lagos hailed senate’s plans to conduct compulsory debates for governorship and presidential candidates in 2019.

They said in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria that such debates would enable voters to know more about the candidates and their parties to be able to make wise choices.

The senate had last week passed for second reading a bill seeking establishment of a commission with the responsibility to organise debates for candidates cleared for governorship and presidential elections.

The bill titled “Nigerian Political Debates Commission Bill, 2015’’ was sponsored by Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari.

Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, the Presidential Candidate of the KOWA Party in the 2015 general elections, said that the debate would help voters to see the other side of candidates.

“The debates are necessary. How else will the people get to really know those they are to vote for?

“Debates help us to see some sides of  a candidate which will otherwise be unknown such as his ability to withstand pressure, his reaction to opposition, clarity of expression, among others,’’ Sonaiya said.

In the same vein, Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, the Presidential Candidate of the African Renaissance Party in 2011, said that the plan was laudable.

“This is good news,’’ he said.

Ndu, however, said that debates would not guarantee competence of candidates.

“It will hardly solve anything as talk is cheap.

“The only guarantee for responsible and competent governance is mass participatory system of government.

“Anything short of that is neither here nor there,’’ Ndu said.

Mr Ayodele Akele, the 2015 Governorship Candidates of the National Conscience Party in Lagos State, said that the plan was in the right direction.

“This is great; it will give Nigerians the opportunity to critically appraise candidates of their choice.

“It will also test candidates’ ability and knowledge on various issues.

“If we reasoned through this line, the country would have been better for everyone, and things would not have been this bad.

“The masses through several debates would have known who their representatives truly are,’’ Akele said.

Mr Martin Onovo, the Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party in the 2015, also hailed the senate plan.

“Debates are necessary to improve communication between candidates and voters.

“However, a senate move to make it compulsory now may not be our national priority given the current serious security and economic issues on ground,’’ Onovo said.

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