- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 04:38
- Written by Admin
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Vice President Namadi Sambo was alone yesterday at the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) presidential debate.
The three podiums meant for ACN candidate Fola Adeola, CPC’s Tunde Bakare, ANPP’s John Odigie-Oyegun were vacant throughout the event.
But the panelists went ahead with the session, directing all their questions to Sambo, thereby making the session a monologue.
Sambo had all the time to campaign because there was no other candidate to be asked questions.
Only two vice presidential candidates showed up during the first segment of the debate.
The debate between the candidate of the United Nigeria Party for Development (UNPD), Alhaji Galadima Samari, and his National Transformation Party (NTP) counterpart, Mr. Gabriel Ogbonna, seemed strange.
Samari spoke in Hausa. He came with an interpreter to be able to reach Nigerians who do not understand Hausa.
Two other vice presidential candidates who were scheduled to debate with Samari and Ogbonna during the first session were absent without apologies. They are Alhaji Rasheed Shitta-Bey of the Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP) and Alhaji Lawal Kasimu Funtua of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP).
Sambo, replying to a question on education, said no fewer than 9.5 million Nigerians are roaming the streets without education.
He added that most Nigerians do not believe in educating their children.
Besides, he said the Federal Government had begun to consider the physically challenged in its infrastructural development drive.
The Vice President disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the N18,000 minimum wage Bill into law, adding that salaries would henceforth be reviewed every five years.
On why the goverment appears to be muzzling the opposition by remanding the governorship candidate of the ACN in Akwa Ibom State, John Udoedehe, Sambo said the official report of the incident in Uyo exonerated the PDP.
He said the government would ensure that anybody convicted of perpetrating violence would be dealt with according to law, irrespective of such person’s party.
In the Akwa Ibom violence, protest against the incident in Uyo turned violent, with many vehicles burnt. ACN supporters, on their way to a rally in Ikot Ekpene, were attacked.
FRESH Democratic Party presidential candidate Rev. Chris Okotie and his National Conscience Party (NCP) counterpart Mr. Dele Momodu yesterday condemned their exclusion from the debate.
In a statement in Lagos, Okotie said it was wrong for the NEDG to set up rules targeted at screening out smaller parties, adding that one of the tenents of democracy is a level-playing field for all participants.
The FRESH standard bearer said: “What the debate organisers have done is to recognise some candidates as front runners and others as underdogs. It is the prerogative of the voters to determine their choice of candidates without undue influence.”
Momodu, in a letter to the organisers through his lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, said he was duly invited.
He said: “By your letter dated March 7, 2011, our client was invited to take part in the presidential debate scheduled to hold at Abuja on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. He promptly wrote to accept your invitation.
“However, without any legal justification whatsoever, you have excluded our client from the debate and thereby caused him untold embarrassment and denied him the opportunity to take advantage of the programme to sell his programmes to the electorate.
“By the unlawful exclusion of our client from the debate, you have recklessly violated Section 100 of the Electoral Act which states as follows: ‘A candidate and his party shall campaign for the elections in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be determined by the Commission.
“’State apparatus, including the media, shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. Media time shall be allocated equally among the political parties or candidates at similar hours of the day.
“’At any public forum, electronic media, equal airtime shall be allotted to all political parties or candidates during prime times at similar house each day, subject to the payment of appropriate fees’.
“At any public print media, equal coverage and conspicuity shall be allotted to all political parties. The illegal exclusion is also a violation of the fundamental right of our client to freedom from discrimination on political ground guaranteed by Section 42 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
In the light of the foregoing, we have our client’s firm instructions to sue you at the Federal High Court to claim substantial damages for violating his fundamental right to freedom from discrimination and initiate criminal proceedings against you pursuant to pursuant to Section 100(6) of the Electoral Act.”