By Raphael Ekpang
Senator Abdukfatai Buhari, representing Oyo North senatorial district in the senate has said that presidential and governorship candidates’ debate will help the electorates in identifying credible candidates.
The lawmaker who is sponsoring the bill on making election debate mandatory in Nigeria said that the bill when enacted into law will ensure credibility in the electoral process
He said that the Country will benefit from the bill as all view of the stakeholders will be harnessed.
“If you are either an international politics’ follower or a student of international politics, you will agree with me that most of us, the moment the US or United Kingdom’s elections, come up, we always follow and monitor their debates. In fact, in the case of America’s elections, you learn many things during the debate because if you follow it very well there are many questions or issues that are raised during the debate, but, what about Nigeria’s debate? Do we do it at will? You may decide that you don’t want a particular media house, that you prefer the other ones, everybody wants to go to where they will be asked banana questions, and that will not bring the best of the candidates. That would not also help the electorates in deciding who the best candidate is.
“I did not use the word compulsory. I used the word mandatory. Mandatory and compulsory are two different words. If it is mandatory-you may even decide not to go, but, you do that at your own peril because the truth of the matter is that the way the social media is now, the way the people are exposed now, the way the elites are interested in our democracy now, it will be very difficult for them to give you a date that a credible organisation or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is conducting a debate and you stay back,” he said.
Senator Abdulfatai, who is sponsoring the bill for the second time in the Senate said that the bill suffered a setback because of the paucity fund to start the Commission that will conduct the debate.
“What happen at the last senate, the 8th senate, when I first sponsored the bill, I proposed a commission but the Commission did not see the light of the day because of funding when INEC came for the Public hearing on that motion INEC from the information, INEC found out they have a department that can handle such a thing at that time by the INEC Chairman.”
However, the next public hearing we are going to do we are going to ensure that a lot of people attend so that a lot of suggestion can come up, all I want us to do is to use it to get the best in the interest of the country, whether it is INEC , a Civil Society that will handle it, or labour, people with credibility, people with the integrity that can help the nation, so that we can have people of integrity, the best for the country.” He explained.
He expressed optimism that the Senate will pass the bill for the third reading believing that President Muhammadu Buhari will assent to the bill too.