BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The Director General for the Obi/Datti Campaign Organisation, Doyin Okupe has condemned in strong terms the attitude of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his counterpart, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) towards organised presidential debates.
Okupe said the duo have exhibited gross disrespect for Nigerians whom they are canvassing for their votes in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election by refusing to make themselves available during the debates which is the ample opportunity for the electorates to hear from them on their plans for the people and country they are angling to preside over.
He said it has become a growing trend of irresponsibility, arrogance and disregard for the electorate, which has now gone beyond coincidence, and is at risk of becoming the norm.
According to him, “On Monday 22nd August 2022 the Nigerian Bar Association invited the leading presidential candidates to address her Annual Bar Conference and the Nigerian people at this epic occasion, the presidential candidate of the APC sent his vice presidential candidate to represent him.
“Again on Tuesday and Wednesday September 13th and 14th 2022, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited the major presidential candidates to interact with them and the Nigerian people, on their economic and general policy initiatives as a prelude to the presidential elections while Peter Obi, and other invited candidates appeared in person, the presidential candidate of the APC sent his vice presidential candidate, to represent him.
“Once again, yesterday the 6th November 2022, at the First AriseTV Town Hall Meeting, in contradiction to the understanding reached with the organisers, about allowing only presidential candidates to attend the event, the vice presidential candidate of the PDP was allowed to represent his presidential candidate.
“This sparked a protest and rowdy situation by supporters of the other presidential candidates present.”
Okupe said the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the Presidential Campaign Organisation totally condemns this disregard for the electorate and the people, by the these absentee presidential candidates saying that the decision to present oneself as a presidential candidate, does not start and end with the purchase, submission of forms and certification as a candidate by INEC.
The Director General further noted that it also forebodes on the candidate a high degree of responsibility to present himself for open discussions and explanations on his policies, visions and plans for the people to enable a better understanding and engender an appropriate choice by the electorate in the coming elections.
“It is our firm conviction that anything short of the simple, transparent and honest adherence to this basic contract of responsibility, falls short of the standards of fair contest and engagement and can only be interpreted as mischievous evasion of the desired interface with the people.
“The Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation finds it totally reprehensible and inconceivable why any presidential candidate for these elections should think that they are doing the voting public and indeed all Nigerians a favour, by appearing in person, at these scheduled programs which are a fundamental part of the election season and process.
“These candidates who have assumed the position of emperors and rulers, and not responsible politicians, who are willing to serve and listen to the people, place their position of trust in critical jeopardy by their high horse of arrogance and non-accountability.”
He warned that for the avoidance of doubt the LP presidential candidate is prepared at any appointed time, to engage the Nigerian people on his mission and vision for the people and country whom he seeks to lead competently and responsibly.
“It is an established fact , beyond contradiction the Mr. Peter Obi is currently the leading candidate in this presidential race , and yet he does not display the baseless and arrogant disposition of some of his co- candidates.
“To add insult to injury, yesterday at the Arise Tv Townhall Meeting, the vice presidential candidate who purported to represent his presidential candidate, sought to explain his presence under the obnoxious pretext that the ‘Presidency is one’. This is a blatant lie and to say the least a deceptive attempt to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians.
“The joint ticket in a presidential election, and in a substantive Presidency, is a constitutional provision for temporary or permanent substitution, where the Presidential candidate is primarily incapacitated or otherwise critically unavailable.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the onus and the duty of presenting his position, vision, policies and plans and responding to questions therefrom, is the responsibility of the presidential candidate, in first person, including the fact of being held accountable for his presentation.
“This primary duty of care and response cannot be relegated , delegated or avoided, as a matter of deception or evasion, as it encompasses the right of the people to full and total knowledge of what the candidate has in stock for them.
“With every respect to the office of the vice presidential candidate, this is a duty reserved for the person of each and every presidential candidate.
“We firmly and irrevocably call on the Nigerian people , in entirety, to reject any presidential candidate that habitually and deceptively treats the rights of the people to hear directly from him, with disrespect, dishonour and ignominy.”
Okupe clearly stated that the LP will no longer condone these acts.
“Finally, let us make it clear today, that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation.
“While our candidates Mr. Peter Obi and our vice presidential candidate, Dr. Yusuf Baba-Ahmed, are prepared at all times to engage other candidates and the Nigerian people in any duly scheduled debates, Townhall meetings and any other appearances as designated and scheduled this election season, they will only be prepared to mount the podium, with their peers in this presidential race, and not with any surrogates or diversionary delegated representation.
“This stand is taken with the utmost respect for the rights and desires of Nigerians to full and direct information, and first hand responses and presentations , necessary for the best assessment of worthiness, capacity , capability , competence, character, integrity and disposition, as required to make the right choice in these coming elections.”