Top candidates shun Bayelsa debate

By Our Reporter

Many governorship or presidential candidates in Nigeria now prefer to stay away from political debates because no evidence exists to show that those who debated usually won.

Instead, they see evidence that those who shun the masses through debates get elected.


The trend whereby most hopeful and most likely candidates in elections in Nigeria do not attend debates has hit Bayelsa State too.

The two leading candidates, Gov Douye Diri of the PDP and ex-governor, ex-minister, Timipre Sylva of the APC, both shunned the debate that just took place in Yenagoa for the upcoming governorship election.

Those who that attended and were said to have done well include a lawyer, Warmate Jones Idikio of the Accord Party, and an engineer,  Udengs Eradiri of the Labour Party.

Those who watched the debate said Idikio was particularly excellent on issues surrounding the state economy, an issue that has remained topical in his campaign message.

Eradiri used the opportunity to speak on his PEAP agenda. PEAP is an acronym for People, Empowerment, Agriculture and Power.

The trend began with Muhammadu Buhari in 2014 who did not fancy debates as a way of selling his agenda. When he was about leaving office, another party man, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, never came anywhere near debates, apart from the one at the Chatham House in the UK.

At any rate, however, these leaders won the elections, showing that Nigerian election are never issue-based but personality and structure-based.  

This has cascaded to the states where top candidates now stay away. In Rivers State, apart from the maiden edition of the Rivers Guber Debate in 2015, no sitting governor has ever honoured the debates.

The 2023 debates enjoyed the absence of the preferred candidate, Sim Fubara, who thus missed the opportunity to engage the citizens. Close sources said Fubara very much wished to join the debates and speak to the people, but circumstances were clearly against him.

The debates are however usually spiced by brilliant upstarts who enjoy the limelight and often make very lasting impressions in their states.  


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