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Presidential candidates of five political parties set themselves at a televised debate in Abuja yesterday.

The debate organisers which include the broadcasting organisations of Nigeria, listed five presidential aspirants who would take part in the debate when at 7:00 p.m at Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

Fela Durotoye, Atiku Abubakar, Oby Ezekwesili, Muhammadu Buhari and Kingsley Moghalu were the five aspirants invited to take part in the debate.

President Buhari, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, was in Niger and Plateau States to commission projects and campaign the same day.

Mrs Ezekwesili and Mr Moghalu also made campaign stomps for themselves over the past 24 hours.

The debate comes five weeks after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took on the running mates of the remaining four presidential candidates in a similarly televised video presidential debate back on December 14, 2018.

The economy was the major topic discussed at that debate, with security and foreign affairs getting sparse mentions.

The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG), and other groups organized a presidential debate, where each aspirant shared their manifesto and how they want to go about it.

The incumbent president, refused to show up, and gave an excuse that a chat has been organized in place of the debate on the 16th of January 2018, which was televised by all major stations across the country.

The main opposition to the ruling party, Mr Atiku Candidate of the People Democratic Party, returned from his American trip on 19th January 2019, and made his way to the Debate’s venue in Abuja.

Unfortunately, Atiku refused to speak to the 190 million Nigerians that he will be seeking their votes, but his main reason to come to the debate is president Buhari and not Nigerians, according to his press statement. Whereas we have other presidential aspirants, who are there for the same course.

Does this now mean that the 190 Million Nigerians are unimportant? And does he need President Buhari to be there before he can tell Nigerians what he will be offering to the table? This is a failed act and inability to govern the country on his part, as a presidential Aspirant of Nigeria.

Let’s look at the 3 presidential aspirant who actually showed up on the debate and what they have to offer to the nation if they would win the elections.

Mr. Kingsley Moghalu

  • He is giving out an economic plan if elected president. His plan is about the diversification of the economy. Mr Moghalu said: “In two years my government will bring down the cost of current of expenditure in two years.” On job creation, Mr Moghalu says his government will create incentives for digital work in rural and urban areas through technology.
  • He says he will develop a startup nation through the ICT. “N500 billion will be sourced for job creation through the private firms,” he says. Mr Moghalu wants his government to prioritize education. He will also run an educational system driven by technology and original research.
  • Mr Moghalu says he will end ASUU strike in Nigeria. Mr Moghalu also stated that he is not surprised the Buhari and Atiku missed the debate. “They are not here because of arrogance. They believe they can do without you. They believe we are trapped. They are not here because they cannot answer the questions,” They are in the class of old politicians that have a sense of entitlements but have no record of performance. He describes their absence as total failure for the PDP and the APC. “One of them is a kettle and the other is a pot and they call themselves black.” he said.
  • Mr. Moghalu says his government will tackle corruption in the military. He will tackle poverty in the North East which is feeding violence in the regions. Moghalu wants to make secondary school in Nigeria free if elected. He also will ensure universal health coverage in Nigeria. There will be an allotment of 15 percent to health in line with the Abuja declaration. He will he will fund his plan by partly selling the NNPC.
  • On education of the girl child, Mr. Moghalu says the topic informed her decision to choose a female vice president with passion for the girl child. “We will make sure that our young girls are protected against early marriages.”

Mrs. Oby Ezekweili

  •  She announced that she will lift 80 million Nigerians out of poverty by improving their productivity. Her government will also empower women out of poverty enormously.
  • She believes her government will remove barriers to productivity. Also, on cutting cost for government, Mrs. Ezekwesili promises her government will base her plan on analysis.
  • Her government will work with the private sector to cut down costs. Mrs Ezekwesili is not surprised President Buhari and PDP’s Atiku were not here. She says the duo just announced their exit by not attending the debate.  Mrs Ezekweili had earlier in an interview described APC’s Buhari and PDP’s Atiku as the old political class in what she described as BUTIKU team.
  • She believes the country needs to be rescued from the stronghold of a political class represented by Buhari and Atiku. Mrs Ezekwesili says her government make it clear there is a new sheriff in town.
  • She reaffirmed there is no consequences for killing Nigerians. He promises to set up a SWAT team that will be based on intelligence and technology. The former minister of education is the first to go.
  • Mrs Ezekwesili says education will become the new oil in her administration. Her government she says will make compulsory child education. She emphasizes the need for teacher’s training and says most of our teachers are semi qualified. On the rise of degradation of government schools in Nigeria, Mrs Ezekwesili, a former world bank official, wants her government to focus on the welfare of teachers to avoid incessant strikes.
  • On health, Mrs Ezekwesili says her government will expand the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
  • She says her government will end brain drain in the health sector. Mrs Ezekwesili says her government will ensure conclusive prosecution of corrupt officials.
  • Co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, reels out challenges that keeps girls out of school. She says her government will provide incentives for parents so they can send their children to school.
  • She says it is the community that will enjoy from education of the girl child.

Mr. Fela Durotoye

  • He is talking on tax reformation. He says his government will reform the civil service institution in a way that Nigerians will get value from paying taxes. “We must reorient our people on how to pay tax,” he says.
  • He interprets Buhari and Atiku’s absence as the coming of a new era. “The future is here. It’s time for Nigerians to choose because old things have passed away. A pride comes before a fall. That is what it means,” he says.
  • He says his government will ensure proper welfare of the armed forces and the police. His government he says will integrate security intelligence with locals.
  • Mr Durotoye says his government will ensure the development of specialization among teachers. “We will ensure infrastructure and quality environment for education,” he says. ANN candidate promises to provide transport systems for students in government schools.
  • He described himself as a product of public school system says his government will arrest parents who do not allow their children go to school.
  • Mr Durotoye tailors his plan for health to revamping the Primary Health Care system. He says the best way to solve the issue of health in Nigeria is by strengthening the PHCs. The ANN candidates says he will ensure total free health for citizens above 60 and under five.
  • The plan on corruption by taking a swipe on Buhari led administration. He described the current administrations’ corruption mantra as selective. Mr. Durotoye on the other hand, plans to lead a nation with emphasis on agriculture produce.
  • He says his government will run a transparent campaign on corruption. He says he will make sure the judicial and security system is enforced in the fight against corruption. He also said he has plan for hastening corruption cases so it will not be stalled.
  • He also describes girl education as a priority for his government.

Mr. Atiku Abubakar

The PDP candidate has repeatedly divulged his plan of selling NNPC as a quick way of revamping the Nigerian economy. He hasn’t showed at the debate so nobody knows what he has to offer.

President of the Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Mohamed Buhari


Candidates’ final statement

Mr. Moghalu provided an electric statement that urges Nigerians to vote out the old order.

He says the APC and the PDP has brought our country to a sorry state. “The future will not be shaped by recycled leaders,” he says.

In an eloquent recap, Mr. Durotoye says power shifts in Nigeria every 20 years. He gives a historical break down. He says this is time for a change.

Mrs. Ezekwesili says this is the time for a new direction for Nigeria. She describes her leadership as that which will border on compassion and care. She urges Nigerians to vote for her.

While the candidates debate in the hall, supporters of a presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore were protesting outside the venue against the non-inclusion of Mr. Sowore and his running mate in the debates.

Omoyele Sowore 2019 Presidential Aspirant

By Yakubu Jimoh Nija Box- Trainee Journalist