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The Senate Legislative Bill which seeks to institutionalize debates during elections if passed into law may likely serve as a bottleneck for President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election, having failed to participate in the 2015 Presidential Debate.
The bill which had scaled through second reading on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, October 12, makes it mandatory for every Presidential and Governorship Candidate to participate in an organised debate before he can be eligible for election.
Recall, that Buhari had on February 2015 shunned the Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDG, in Abuja.
His then fellow front runner for the March 28 election, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, however, joined four other Presidential Candidates for the debate.
It is on record that Buhari is not good in addressing the public without an already prepared speech.
Therefore, with the Senate fronting the bill to institutionalize Presidential Debate, as part of the criteria to be eligible to contest, this may ‘push Buhari out of the race’, Post-Nigeria gathered.
Sponsored by Senator Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North), the bill, tagged: ‘Nigerian Political Debates Commission,’ also makes debate compulsory for vice Presidential and Governorship Candidates. “The bill, if considered and passed by this hallowed chamber, will strengthen our democracy and bring it in conformity with practice in other renowned democracy of the world,” he said.
According to him, the conduct of pre-election debates which he said had become a norm in the United States of America, USA, dates back to 1960 when Democratic Party’s nominee, John Kennedy and his Republican rival, Richard Nixon, tested their popularity at the maiden debate.

“The debate is the de facto election process in the United States, as results of elections are predicated on the candidates’ performance at the debates… An analogous experience of this crucial indispensability of electoral debate is the current Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party and Donald Trump of the Republican Party.
“The regular debate has enabled the electorate not only to know about the personality of the candidates but also about their lifestyles, beliefs, reactions to national issues and foreign policy. All this information has informed the electorate on the position to take during election. In fact, the exposures made possible by the mandatory political debate will definitely save that country from electing a tyrant,” he added.
The Senator listed the benefits of pre-election debate to include, providing the platform to sample candidates’ knowledge on a wide range of issues, such as how they intend to foster economic, foreign, health and education policies, among others.
He insinuated that anyone who shies away from participating in a debate, which provides him with the opportunity to present his proposed administration’s road-map, is not fit to be a Governor or President

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