Challengers don't let things remain the way they are, they are advocates of change and will go the extra mile to see they emerge victorious in whatever contest they are into. It calls for concern when the ruling party PDP takes it upon themselves to insist that the opposition APC presidential candidate must come out and challenge them to a debate.The opposition should be the "challenger" but since the ruling party has taken it upon themselves to challenge the challenger in a presidential debate, the question is, since when has refusal to presidential debate become an issue in Nigeria?
Though the challengers (APC) are enjoying the challenge they are getting from the ruling party (PDP), they don't want to be dictated on what to do. Last week, one of the media shenanigans of the president, through the print media elevated his histrionic sycophancy as he postulated; the last time Nigerians enjoyed something really close to an exciting presidential debate was during the 1993 presidential election and the man to blame for this denial of another presidential debate in 2015 is General Muhammadu Buhari because he doesn't want a debate at all.
Why the sudden need of a debate? Will a debate change the economic hardship that has befallen this nation? If the incumbent president and its handlers are so keen on debates why were they absent in 2011 presidential debate? If there's anybody or group of people that should raise concern over the decision of the APC not to participate in a presidential debate, it should be the electorates not the presidency.
The two major presidential contenders toured the 36 states of the federation during their campaigns, they met the people one on one and made campaign promises while soliciting for their votes, there is nothing both of them will tell us in a debate we have not heard from them.It was during their campaigns across the federation that reality began to dawn on the president, it became clear to him he was being misled by his retinue of aides that Nigerians are happy with his government. In desperation for political relevance and acceptance, the presidency resorted to all sorts of contrived propaganda including hate documentaries in which billions of naira were expended on venal television stations to smear, discredit and undermine the opposition candidate. After all the propaganda and hate documentaries without much effect on the opposition candidate's popularity, they came up with an idea of a presidential debate. A debate that will be organized by agencies of the ruling government and yet the apologists of the ruling government still expect the opposition to attend such a debate with compromised penalists.
Nigeria is a country where most of our so called politicians don't have shame, if they do this issue over debate shouldn't be coming from the presidency. After all the unfulfilled campaign promises of 2011, what again does the president want to tell us in a debate we have not heard? We are tired of his transformation mantra that exists mostly on television stations. We don't want a president that will send Nigerian youths to the moon and use technology to fight crime and corruption if re-elected.We need an anti corruption czar that will come and cleanse the "Augean stable" that has been taken over by filth and corruption.
The media apologists and the retinue of sycophants that surrounds themselves as advisers to the government have lost touch with reality and every sense of reasoning and their services are doing more harm than good to Nigerians. What good are their services if it brings no meaningful change and progress to people's lives? It is something of shame to the paid media apologists of the government that the same man they accused of being sick, too old, had no WAEC results, can't jog a distance, can't recite the national pledge, doesn't know the name of his running mate and is brain dead is the same man majority Nigerians prefer to their boss. In fact many are increasingly of the opinion that even if Muhammadu Buhari is declared brain dead they will vote him.
A government that embezzle, identifies and encourages corruption is ridiculing the opposition candidate of projecting himself as an anti corruption angel and yet he is surrounded by "morally conflicted persons". This is a clear case of kettle calling the pot black. As it stands today, greater optimism rests with the prospects of a pig embracing hygiene than the capacity of the ruling party for anything honorable. A president that preaches non-violence but encourages violence in some parts of the country that pose a threat to his re-election bid, yet he wants to be taken seriously by the World.
The media apologists and the retinue of advisers of the government have suddenly remained distant and quiet, ignoring the effrontery of their desperate boss who has been on the move, from state to state, church to church and from one institution to another sharing billions of naira to those bodies to buy their votes and an obsessed first lady turned co-executive president who has also been on the lose lately with "verbal diarrhea" of the mouth in her campaign tours.
If you have observed the president's demeanor lately, its absolutely clear he's coming to terms with reality of defeat, hence the need to "challenge the challenger" in whatever form.Presidential debate is not a constitutional requirement, if the ruling party desperately wants a debate, they should organize one for themselves where their candidate will be the sole participant like they did in 2011.
What do you expect from erratic men of questionable characters that have lost every credibility left in them as media aides and advisers? Very soon they will realize they have been walking about naked all these while but by then it would have been very late.
I will advise the government and it's paid apologists to respect the sanctity of our democracy and stop this act of challenging the challenger in whatever guise they assume and avoid any act that may truncate our democracy before, during and after the general elections.
Joe Onwukeme: Writes from Enugu
I tweet @unjoeratedjoe