- Nigeria is heading to a very crucial year, and it is that time when 200 million people will decide who will become the next president
- Three main contenders are in pole position to clinch the country's number one administrative seat
- But there is a growing clamour for a proper debate between these political juggernauts, but some of them seem to be missing out
In the build-up to the 2023 presidential elections, the stakes are high, and anxiety continues to linger in the minds of citizens on who becomes the next president of Nigeria.
Many political pundits and enthusiasts have described the forthcoming elections as a three-horse race as there is non-clear favour for the presidential seat.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party are the three major contenders for the Aso Rock seat, according to popular opinion.
However, there are various calls for all these presidential candidates to have a face-off in a debate to tell Nigerians of their plans for Nigeria ahead of the presidential polls.
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Ironically, since the inception of debate into the pre-electoral practice of Nigeria, history has shown that most of the major contenders usually boycott debates.
History also shows that some of the major candidates who boycott debates emerge victorious at polls, as in the case of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
In this piece, Legit.ng looks at some presidential candidate who has boycotted debates over the years.
1. Bola Tinubu
This is Bola Tinubu's first shot at the presidency. The All Progressive Congress (APC) flagbearer is seeking the number one administrative seat to succeed the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, in the build-up to the forthcoming presidential polls, the former Lagos state governor has been invited to two major meetings to speak alongside his counterparts but has yet to show up.
One of the most infamous moments was when he didn't attend the August 2022 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Conference.
Tinubu was ably represented by his vice-presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, who stole the show with his bogus outfit.
Earlier in November, Arise TV organised a town hall meeting where some of the major presidential candidates were supposed to be in attendance. But again, Tinubu was a no-show, not even his vice-presidential candidate.
2. Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure will come to a close some few months from now, has also been found wanting in a presidential debate.
During his fourth attempt at the presidency in 2015, Buhari aimed to unseat the then-incumbent, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria (BON) organised a debate that same year, and Buhari was a no-show.
Similarly, in the 2019 election period, Buhari was also missing at the presidential debate where his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, ably represented him.
3. Atiku Abubakar
Atiku's first shot at the presidency as a flagbearer under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 was full of confidence and vigour.
The Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria (BON), before the 2019 election, organised a debate for all presidential candidates.
President Muhammadu Buhari failed to show up for the debate, a decision that made Atiku also boycott the debate stating that he wanted a face-off with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recently, Arise TV organised a town hall meeting with invitations sent out to the presidential candidates of major political parties.
Atiku was a no-show but sent a representative in the person of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, who doubles as the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP.
4. Goodluck Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan also made the list of presidential candidates to have boycotted a presidential debate.
Some nine years ago, Jonathan was billed to speak at a presidential debate organised by NN24.
But according to his campaign organisation, Jonathan missed out on the NN24 debate because he was billed to attend another debate organised by the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG).
5. Rabiu Kwankwaso
Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso is a surprise inclusion in this list. So far, the Kano-born politician is yet to miss any form of debate.
However, in October, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) presidential candidate was a no-show at the Arewa Joint Committee interactive session with presidential candidates.
While giving his reason for being absent, Senator Kwankwaso said reliable information from his team shows that it was a plot to endorse another candidate from northern Nigeria.
2023 polls: INEC swears-in 19 news resident electoral commissioner
In another development, INEC boss, Mahmoud Yakubu, has sworn in 19 new resident electoral commissioners (RECs) at the commission's headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.
Five of the 19 new commissioners are reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the Senate.
Yakubu deployed the new commissioners to their geopolitical zones and not their state of origin, as stipulated in the commission's regulations.