The much-talked about debate between the topmost presidential candidates in the 2023 election held on Sunday with only three out of the four invited participating and responding to questions posed to them. The debate came in the form of a presidential town hall meeting organised by Arise News. It is the third in the series.
The much-talked about debate between the topmost presidential candidates in the 2023 election held on Sunday with only three out of the four invited participating and responding to questions posed to them.
The debate came in the form of a presidential town hall meeting organised by Arise News. It is the third in the series. It was organised in conjunction with the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD).
The three Presidential candidate’s came fully charged for the town hall meeting and were drilled by two anchor persons -Charles Anagolu and Adesuwa Omoruan . Four persons from the audience in Abuja; a Professor and three other journalists fired questions at the presidential candidates.
The meeting was conducted under an atmosphere of mutual respect by all the candidates who were not confrontational in any way but occasionally joined issues with one another.
The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was said to have been invited to the meeting stayed away from the gathering with his Spokesperson issuing a statement that he would be away to an international engagement in the United Kingdom.
But Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP)and Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) answered questions on poverty, education, healthcare, local government autonomy, human capital growth and many more. The quality of responses show that the Presidential candidates were prepared for the task ahead, if elected President.
The three candidates were of the opinion that a constitutional amendment is needed to effect this. The Federal government must sit down with the other tiers of government to achieve this.
Speaking on human capacity development, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party,Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, talked about giving incentives to the private sector to create employment.
His words;”We have to get our kids educated but rightly educated. By the time you educate them, they will be available to the private sector who should be the engine of growth. The private sector is the driver of prosperity in any given economy”
Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso who drew attention to what he did in Kano as governor said Nigerians would be allowed to be properly educated.
Mr. Obi in answering the question said human capital encompasses health and education. “It drives development”, he stressed.
On inclusive society, Atiku said his government would reduce areas of wastage , continue with the policy the party had started, continue with privatisation and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must eliminate multiple exchange rate. Kwankwaso was of the opinion that things should be run through merit and discipline.
For Mr. Obi, his government would restructure the nation’s debt, deal with multiple exchange rate and have implementable budget.
On whether they would be transparent with their health status and use health facilities in Nigeria, Alhaji Kwankwaso said;”I am happy with my health status. Somebody gave me a guarantee of 30years”. Atiku said;” if I am required to produce my health status, I will produce it”. Obi said as governor of Anambra State he rehabilitated some health facilities which he used and is currently using but should he get a referral, he would follow his doctor’s advice.
On medical doctors leaving the country for greener pastures,and health services being expensive and out of reach for most Nigerians, Kwankwaso said “health insurance very important. We’ll bring reforms to strengthen it”. His government will make health services accessible through insurance.
Atiku said the PDP government set up the National Health Insurance Scheme which ought to be for all Nigerians but regretted that not many Nigerians subscribe to it. The Labour Party presidential candidate said he would do massive training for our doctors, increase investment. Give health 10 percent in the budget and government must do subsidy in health insurance.
Speaking on medical tourism and health care, Alhaji Atiku said he would deal with medical challenges at the lower level – basic health. He said we need to sit down with the private sector and give them incentives. Kwankwaso said;”we need put our house in order. Provide all it takes to provide international best practices”, adding that leaders need to build confidence by not traveling abroad for treatment. “Lead by example”, he stressed. For Mr. Obi, Primary health care holds the master key. He would increase investment in health care, increase funding and manpower.
On education especially insecurity in schools, the three candidates agreed that security is paramount. Atiku said he has a five point programme and security is one of them. Obi said we need to review and restructure the nation’s security architecture and pulling people out of poverty. On out – of – school children, Obi lamented that the nation’s investment in education is low stressed that ;” our budget is not up to 10%. We are going to invest in education and pull those children back to school”. Alhaji Atiku lamented that his attempt to address the issue as Vice President was frustrated by northern governors who said it requires additional funding and infrastructure.
On how to address imbalance in the nation’s educational system, Obi said he would increase investment, increase supervision and dialogue with states and local government councils stressing that in Anambra, parents preferred to take their children to government schools than private schools.
Alhaji Kwankwaso said his government would support education massively while also carrying along state and local government councils, bring in lots of reforms and tackle corruption. The PDP presidential candidate said as Vice president, the PDP government passed the law on Universal Basic Education and imposed education tax ” we should find out why the intention of the law was not achieved”.
For Alhaji Kwankwaso, private persons should be encouraged to invest in education adding; “we’ll do everything that each child would be given the opportunity to go to school. On the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) recurring disagreement with government, Alhaji Atiku said their salary structure and arrears of their salaries should be paid and bottlenecks in getting funding to universities should be removed.
Obi said funding of Nigerian Universities needs to be structured adding;” Federal government cannot continue to fund it the way they are funding it”. Alhaji Kwankwaso said honesty, sincerity and credibility is needed in addressing the issue. “We’ll put the money and put an eye on implementation. We are on the same page with ASUU.
Why Should Nigerians Vote for You?
On why Nigerians should make them their preferred candidates; Peter Obi said he is going to focus on poverty reduction, education, health, and human capital development. Atiku said he has vast experience and that Nigerians should compare the achievements of the government he served as Vice President with that of the current government to know the difference.
But Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, took a swipe at Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, for saying that Nigerians have not been fair to his party, the PDP. Kwankwaso stated that Atiku led Nigerians, especially him, out of the PDP to another party, adding that it was not their fault. Kwankwaso told Atiku not to blame Nigerians for not following the PDP, adding that Nigerians have been fair to his party over the years. He further stated that he and Atiku left the party to join APC because of the party’s situation before returning to the party.
APC,PDP Trade Words Over Asiwaju’s Absence
Asiwaju Tinubu, through his presidential campaign council, had on Saturday, in a press statement indicated that he would not be attending any debate organised by the TV station whom he accused of being biased against him.
He also asked his supporters and spokespersons to boycott the TV station. The Tinubu campaign organisation also warned Arise TV against using its candidate’s photograph in advertisements for the town hall meeting. It said that Tinubu has headed to the UK, where he would be speaking on security, economy and foreign policy at the Chatham House.
Mr. Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson of the campaign organisation, reiterated that Tinubu would not be attending Arise News TV town hall meeting.
Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesperson of the Atiku campaign organisation, said Tinubu’s trip to the UK is to avoid fielding questions on his plans to move the FCT to Lagos.“The APC presidential candidate should face Nigerians with an explanation for the exposed scheme instead of allowing his handlers to be playing to the gallery with disjointed denials and blaming other political parties for allegedly spreading the accusation that he wants to relocate the federal capital from Abuja to Lagos,” he said.
“The plan to relocate the federal capital was conceptualised and propagated by the Tinubu campaign and only became hysterical as a result of the public ire against such an atrocious plot to sequester the nation’s capital for his personal selfish interest.
“It is clear that the foreign trip embarked on by Asiwaju Tinubu was a deliberate plot to dodge the Arise TV debate scheduled to hold tomorrow following fear that Nigerians will take him to task on the FCT relocation plot, alleged criminal indictments, perjury, forgery and inconsistencies in age, name, ancestry and education qualification.
“Moreover, the handlers of the APC presidential candidate are not comfortable putting him before the cameras because of his constant embarrassing gaffes that question his fitness for the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“If Asiwaju Tinubu cannot face Nigerians as a candidate because of his many pieces of baggage, he surely does not deserve their votes on February 25, 2023”
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