With less than three weeks to the presidential debate, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to take a decision on whether he would take part in the debate slated for January 19 by the Nigeria Election Debate Group.
There has been speculation that the president would be represented by his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a position which has been rejected by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking with Daily Independent on Thursday, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the president was yet to make up his mind on whether or not to appear at the debate.
He said Nigerians would be informed in due course when the president takes a decision on this.
“When it gets to that decision, Nigerians will know what his decision is. We will surely cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.
However, the PDP, in its reaction, said its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was ready to debate with President Buhari in any location he chooses, even if it was inside Aso Villa.
Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said the PDP would also not accept the idea of the president sending a representative to stand for him at the debate.
According to him, if the president was present during the signing of the peace accord convened by the National Peace Committee under the chairmanship of the former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, two weeks ago, he should also attend the debate where he would reel out his achievements and tell Nigerians why they should vote him for another term.
“President Buhari must participate at the debate. It is he that our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, wants to debate with.
“So, it matters to us that he attends the debate and not send in a representative. We are insisting that President Buhari must come in person.
“Those saying he needs not to attend the debate are running away from reality. We are ready to debate with him even inside Aso Villa.
“Wherever he chooses, we will meet him there and debate with him. Our own is that he should come out personally for the debate and not send in a representative.
“The organizers of the debate know the reason why they set it up and they have invited him and other presidential candidates.
“If he can attend the Peace Pact, then he should be able to attend the presidential debate where he will tell Nigerians his achievements so far and why they must vote for him for another term in office,” he said.
It would be recalled that Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), on Wednesday said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo could represent President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential debate if that was what the Federal Government wanted.
Speaking with Daily Independent, Sagay said the debate was not about eloquence but what the political parties had to offer the country if elected.