The African Action Congress (AAC) has called for inclusion in the presidential debate being organised by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).
As earlier reported by Saharareporters, NEDG and BON confirmed pn Tuesday evening that only five political parties would participate in its scheduled presidential debate.
The parties are Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).
However, the AAC has questioned the decision to include only five political parties, excluding Omoyele Sowore and Dr. Rabiu Ahmed Rufai, the AAC presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively.
A statement by Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, Director-General of the TakeItBack Movement/Sowore 2019 Campaign, issued on Tuesday, read: "We demand to know the criteria that were used for selecting the parties that will participate in the debates.
"The AAC is one of the three largest parties in Nigeria. In fact, we were within the top three parties in the online poll that was organised by Channels TV to determine the participants in the presidential debates. We demand that the unaltered results of that poll be published.
"It is unconscionable that our candidates will be left out of the VP and Presidential debates when smaller political parties that fared worse in the polls, and do not have the reach or strength that our party commands across the country, were included.
"We also note that our presidential candidate has won every major independent and objective poll against the candidates from the alternative parties. Yet somehow, those parties made it to the debates while our candidates did not.
"We demand that NEDG and BON publicly declare the criteria that were used for selecting the participants. Any debate about Nigeria’s future and the 2019 elections that does not include the AAC is a farce. Nigerians cannot be fooled.
“We expect that this grave injustice will be rectified immediately, ahead of the VP debates on December 14. Nigerians must not be cheated out of a robust debate about our nation’s future. Nigeria MUST progress."
Similarly, Sowore, the AAC presidential candidate, blasted the organisers of the debate, tweeting: “First they excluded @aacparty from the signing of Peace Agreement &Memorandum of understanding by presidential candidates & party chairmen in Abuja today, just emerged also they don’t want me to participate in the presidential debates, they claim I am out of control and may spill what I know about these oldies publicly during debates. These old guards still don’t get it!”
He condemned the organizers for presenting to Nigerians a streamlined number of political parties, thereby denying access to others as guaranteed by the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, which states that “the government shall abide by institutional, regulatory and legal frameworks requiring equitable access to State media by parties and candidates contesting elections”. The code, which was adopted on October 30, 2014, binds all media organisations, including BON.
Some Nigerians have reacted to the exclusion, including #EndSars movement convener, @Segalink tweeting: “They made a mistake with the listing. It would have been more interesting to have @YeleSowore included in this. There are five here and it could very well have been six. One will certainly be absent.”
@Alatenumo tweeted “I expected @obyzeks and @feladurotoye and Kingsley to Speak out and ask for Yele’s inclusion. Injustice happens when men and women of goodwill stay silent.”