Top contenders for Nigeria’s presidential seat in the 2023 elections have rejected an invitation for a virtual debate organized by the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN), a group under the aegis of the Nigerians in Diaspora.
HausaToday understands that the likes of candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party’s Peter Obi, were all invited to the debate.
Also invited to the event are presidential candidates of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Kola Abiola; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and candidate of the Action Alliance, Hamza Al-Mustapha.
The debate according to the Chairman of the Board of OAN, Olayinka DanSalami, was organized in collaboration with 15 other Nigerian organizations in the United States.
The debate earlier scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 26, however, has been cancelled as none of the six candidates invited showed commitment to attend, DanSalami confirmed in a statement made available to newsmen.
He said: “The six major Nigeria presidential candidates have given thumbs down to our efforts for them to speak to the Diaspora on issues of great importance to the future and development of Nigeria.
“On Aug. 16, the Organisations extended letters of invitation to the six major presidential candidates to attend ‘The Diaspora Listens’ presidential debate”.
He said it was only appropriate to have the candidates inform Nigerians in the Diaspora of their manifestos and their administration’s policy thrust if elected.
“How their government would maximise the various opportunities that abound in Nigeria and the key role that Nigerians in the Diaspora would have to play towards national development in their administration,” DanSalami said.
He said the virtual debate, scheduled for Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Nigerian time, would have given Nigerians all over the world the opportunity to hear first-hand from these candidates their intentions and aspirations for Nigeria.
The official said Nigerians in the Diaspora would also have the opportunity to put forward their questions, suggestions and support for the candidates.
DanSalami added: “Efforts were made to obtain written commitments from the six candidates. To date, none has been obtained and neither do we see any forthcoming. The issues facing our country, Nigeria, are complex ones.
“However, how do we plan to solve these problems and how do we know what the candidates have in stock for Nigeria and the Diaspora if they refuse to attend the virtual debate, to speak directly to Diaspora compatriots about their plans for Nigeria and Nigerians?
“The United States hosts many Nigerian citizens and associations worldwide that are critical to the political and socio-economic development of our dear country, despite the differences in tribes and tongues.”
He, however, assured that Nigerians living in the U.S. would continue to fly the Nigerian flag high irrespective of the situation, adding that they believe that ‘to actualise the Nigeria of our dream, everyone must contribute his or her quota.’