The presidential candidate of the Accord Party, Isaac Ositelu, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance on Wednesday protested against the decision of the Nigeria Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria to select candidates of only five political parties for the presidential debate scheduled for January 19, 2019.
The organisations had restricted participants at the debate to the presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye; All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari; Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and Young Progressives Party, Kingsley Moghalu.
But Ositelu, in a statement made available to journalists, said all candidates taking part in the presidential election ought to have been given opportunity of taking part in the debate.
He said by denying other candidates the opportunity of presenting their manifestoes to Nigerians, the NEDG and BON have unwittingly denied other candidates opportunity to compete fairly for votes in the election.
Ositelu said he ought to have been accorded recognition in the debate given that Accord Party, with over 11 years of participation in the electoral processes in Nigeria, had membership bases across the 36 states and Abuja.
He said, “Accord Party has previously produced members of the National and state Houses of Assembly. If such success tractions were the consideration for rating, the Accord Party deserved better recognition by the NEDG and BON.
“Accord Party is one of the very few parties that could boast of nominating candidates for states and national elections in the 2019 general elections.”
Ositelu called on the organisers of the debate to correct the bias against the interest of Accord Party and its candidate.
He said the right to debate in the electoral process should be an inalienable privilege for all the candidates.
“Anything to the contrary would present NEDG and BON as having established prejudices against the likes of Accord Party and will call to question the integrity of the debate organisers,” he added.
Also, APGA in a letter addressed to the two organisations dated December 18 and signed by the national chairman, Victor Oye, appealed to them to include its presidential candidate, John Gbor, in the debate.
Oye said there was no justification in the exception of the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates in the debates, saying APGA is the third largest party in the country.
The letter read, “I write to complain about the exclusion of our presidential and vice-presidential candidates from the ongoing debates being organised by your organisations, the Nigeria Election Debate Group and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.
“It is an established fact at present that our party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, is the third largest political party in Nigeria. Therefore, it should have been part of the debates no matter whatever procedure or yardstick your organisations may have used to draw up political parties and their candidates included in the debates.
“So, APGA ought to have been among the ones chosen, so far as the number of parties to be involved in the debates are beyond two.”