October 18, (THEWILL) – Presidential candidate of the Accord party, Professor Christopher Imumolen, has charged the Arewa Elders Forum on a free, fair, transparent and all-inclusive presidential debate.
Professor Imumolen spoke amid claims by Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), that the foremost northern pressure group had concluded plans to use its planned presidential debate to endorse a candidate for the 2023 general elections.
He said it was in the interest of Arewa to ensure a high level of transparency as they conduct the proposed debate.
“I am speaking against the background of allegations made by my fellow presidential candidate, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso who recently withdrew from the soon-to-be-conducted debate by Arewa House, alleging there was a secret plot to use the event to endorse a candidate.
“I want to believe this is not true, even though it is obvious that some of my colleagues who are flag bearers of other political parties haven’t been included.
“Well, let me say this. If the organisers want Nigerians to see the debate as credible, they must not be seen as shutting out any candidate. Everyone who deserves to be at the debate should be invited to present and defend their manifestos.
“Handpicking of a few candidates will not only tacitly give credence to the fears already expressed by Kwankwaso, but it will also narrow down the options of our most discerning electorate who tend to make their choices from what they see.
“Besides, nowhere in the world, a presidential debate is made a forum of endorsements for candidates. Arewa Consultative Forum will, therefore, be shooting itself in the foot by trying to do so, and thus showing its hand that it is sectional and biased in its outlook.
“Now, I am sure they can’t be expected to be taken seriously by those who had expected them to be apolitical, fair and transparent in the conduct of a debate that has far-reaching implications for the future of our great country”, he said.
Prof. Imumolen urged Arewa to avoid the mistakes made by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) when they also staged similar debates recently.
“Arewa must do everything in its power to avoid the mistakes made by both the NBA and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry when they handpicked a few of the candidates to take part in their versions of the presidential debates during recent conferences in Lagos”, he said.