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Abatis fools paradise

Published by The Nation on Wed, 11 Mar 2015

Who needs a presidential debate to make a choice between President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential poll rescheduled for March 28' It is noteworthy that Jonathans spokesman and media adviser Reuben Abati noted in a statement on Buharis alleged avoidance of a debate: There is no gainsaying the fact that President Jonathan and General Buhari are the main contenders in this election. Every Nigerian would love to see the two of them debate. That would be good for our democracy.Abati further said on Buhari: His deliberate avoidance of a Presidential debate is akin to an examination malpractice. It is not god enough for a man who wants to be President of our country. He is short-changing the Nigerian electorate by denying them the opportunity of assessing him properly in an open debate. He added: While a Presidential debate is not a constitutional requirement, it is an established convention that deepens and enriches the democratic process. According to Abati, President Jonathan is ready to meet him in an open debate, any day, any hour, and at any venue of his choice.Now, how would Abati describe the jolting rearrangement of the election dates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), allegedly influenced by the Jonathan camp' What kind of malpractice could this be, and what does it say about a man who is seeking presidential reelection'It is a pathetic reflection of Abatis distance from reality that he regards an open debate as an opportunity for the electorate to properly assess the candidates. It is convenient for him to downplay the defining value of electioneering as well as the wisdom of the electorate. Abati must be living in a fools paradise to believe that a presidential debate of an hour or two would conclusively convince voters to reelect Jonathan, when his low-grade performance in office and his unconvincing political campaign speak of failure.What this means is that Abatis promotion of a presidential debate is much ado about nothing. It is highly unlikely that any perceptive voter would need to listen to Jonathan and Buhari debate before taking a voting decision. In case Abati doesnt understand, and that seems to be the case, the candidates have been engaged in an informal but discernible debate based on their antecedents, their personalities and what they represent; and the people have followed this debate by other means with a keen and concentrated interest.For instance, when Buhari is portrayed and recognised as a game-changing player of unstained integrity, and Jonathan is seen as a cunning champion of corruption, the collision has the ingredients of a debate.In particular, it is evident from Abatis obsession with a debate that he must number among the parochial who failed to grasp the import of Buharis February appearance and performance at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House in London. Buharis lecture was fittingly titled Prospect for Democracy Consolidation in Africa: Nigerias transition; and he glowed impressively during the question and answer session that followed. It was certainly not a picture of a debate-shy man. But Abati is clearly reality-shy, which is a way of describing his narrow-mindedness.The post Abatis fools paradise appeared first on The Nation.]]>
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