The areas of discussions are mainly two: the content of the debate i.e
what happened during the debate and the format of the debate i.e. its
organisation. Let us start with the format.
The debate was held in Abuja and it was
and televised by a new satellite TV station, NN24. Some media
practitioners and observers seem to have some reservations on why it
was a cable TV with foreign affiliations that is organising and
televising the Nigerian presidential debate. One of the most
articulate of such voices is that of a former director of the NTA. In
his own words “We
don’t have any business in asking CNN to organise our debate. We have
attained manhood in the journalism profession. The transmission was
nice, no doubt. I am talking about patriotism not because maybe NTA is
better than NN24. We need to do what is ours”. Let us say without
mincing words that such reasoning is wrong. What should really matter
to us as voters and consumers of information is that the transmission
was nice, objective and informative regardless of who organised it.
Whilst we are at it, let us add that the one of the reasons why
private and international TV stations now thrive in Nigeria is because
stations like the NTA are losing what is left of their capacity to
inform, entertain and educate.
Just like our schools, hospitals, electric power authorities, the
state owned and managed ones are not working and Nigerian citizens are
forced to turn to the private sector for education, health and
electricity. I am sure the former director of the NTA and those that
reason like him will not take their loved ones to the generally badly
managed and underperforming schools and hospitals or refuse to use
generators at home and in their offices to prove their patriotism. I
have some information for them: most Nigerians are exactly like them.
News and information generally, is essential in the world we live in
today and nobody in their right senses will blindly rely on an NTA or
any other station incapable of providing objective, plural, engaging
and informative news.
If we have
attained manhood in the journalism profession, let us prove it by
practising it. Let us do news programmes and investigative journalism
that the rest of the world will want to affiliate with.
As for what happened during the debate, the most deafening sound
came from the silence produced by the absence of our incumbent
President and PDP presidential candidate, Dr. Jonathan. The unoccupied
empty podium with its available but unused microphone reserved for our
president turned his absence into an unbearable presence. Dear Mr
constitutes both a symbolic and practical fundamental parts of any
election because it is the only chance where voters get to place
candidates and their ideas side by side in order to make an informed
choice. Debates are also a symbolic democratic ritual that shows
candidates have respect for and are accountable to voters; always make
sure you attend.
The ANPP candidate, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau was clearly the best
performer during that debate; he came across as articulate, informed
and persuasive. His best moments came when he spoke like a middle
class professional that appreciates information and planning. He has
gained some popularity overnight and with that comes more curiosity
and scrutiny over his past, his party, his team and his vision for
Nigeria. We shall see how he copes.
The debate also confirmed what we already know of the CPC candidate:
the General is a good man but certainly not an orator. General
Muhammadu Buhari came across in that
debate as a mature statesmanlike candidate that understands the core
issues and is familiar the with terrain and its complexities. Luckily
for him, most people believe corruption and indiscipline are the main
problem in Nigeria and they trust he can do it. He needs someone to
speak for him.
Although he fought like a lion, it was not a great debate for the ACN
candidate Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Of course starting your debate by having to deny what most people
think you said does not help matters. Ribadu appeared passionate and
full of hope but restless and lacked presidential aura. Let us face it
Ribadu is not Obama when it comes to speech and personality at least
not yet so he needs to focus on his other strengths.
The clear winners of the debate were democracy and Nigerian voters and