The last presidential debate, in 2019, saw the absence of major aspirants. But this may be the last time that’ll happen. Why? A bill seeking to make presidential and governorship debates compulsory for candidates has passed the second reading in the senate.
Abdulfatai Buhari, a member of the Senate representing Oyo North, led the debate on Thursday’s plenary session.
According to ThisDay, the bill sponsor said: “if the bill is considered and passed by the Senate, it will strengthen our democracy and bring it in conformity with the practice of other renowned democracies of the world.”
He added that “this Election Debates Bill, if passed into law shall be used to sample the candidates’ knowledge on a wide range of issues, like a detailed analysis of how they intend to drive the economy, foreign, health and education policies among others.”
The Cable reported that a senate member representing Lagos West, Adeola Olamilekan, contributing to the debate, stated that the bill is simply telling Nigerians, “Know your candidate”. He further added that: “It will give Nigerians an idea about the capacity of the candidates to govern the country”.
However, Barau Jibrin representing was in opposition to the bill. He said “Maybe somebody could not attend the debate because of sickness. I believe it should not be mandatory, but optional.
Also, Danjuma Goje representing Gombe central also said the debates should not be within the jurisdiction of INEC. “Most times, candidates are assessed and awarded marks during these debates. So if INEC is doing that, that means the election has already been determined,” the senator said.