By Uche Amunike
The Labour Party (LP) has made it clear that they shall pull out of future invitations to partake in presidential debates because of the recurring tendencies of other candidates to be absent at such a serious part of every election.
This threat came after the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) refused to attend the presidential town hall series that was organized by Arise TV over the weekend.
Speaking, during a press briefing at the Labour Party Campaign Secretariat, the Director General of the LP Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe, described the situation as ‘unacceptable’ and stated that it was the firm conviction of the party that if the basic contract of responsibility for the election was not simple, fair, transparent and honest in practice, then it falls short of the standards of fair contest and engagement, which can only be considered a mischievous evasion of the needed interface with the people.
LP According to the former presidential spokesperson, even though the APC presidential flag-bearer, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, did not attend the Presidential debate, he was honest enough not to send a ‘surrogate like Atiku’ did.
His words: ‘I have called you this afternoon to speak on 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.
‘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.’
‘This sparked a protest and rowdy situation by supporters of the other presidential candidates present.’
‘The Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, and the Presidential Campaign Organisation totally condemn this disregard for the electorate and the people, by these absentee presidential candidates.’
‘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.’
He further stated thus: ‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
Okupe said his party’s presidential candidates would only be prepared in this election season to mount, “the podium with their peers and not with any surrogates or diversionary delegated representation.’
‘Let us make it clear today, that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation.