Nigeria President cuts lonesome figure at TV debate

Goodluck Jonathan stood next to 3 empty podiums bearing the names of rivals.

Abuja: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan cut a lonesome figure at a live television debate days ahead of national elections on Wednesday after his opposition rivals refused to show up.

Dressed in his trademark fedora and grey kaftan, Jonathan stood next to three empty podiums bearing the names of rivals: former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, former anti-graft tsar Nuhu Ribadu and Kano state Governor Ibrahim Shekarau.

"Each candidate has three minutes," the moderator said, without a hint of irony.

The opposition candidates refused to attend the event, broadcast on state television, after Jonathan snubbed an earlier TV debate in which the three took part.

"I want to be the President of Nigeria because I am totally committed to transforming this country," Jonathan said, shortly before being cut off mid-sentence by the three-minute buzzer.

Jonathan, who went on to answer questions from a panel of interviewers, is considered the favourite to win the April 09 vote but the opposition parties are hoping their combined regional strength can force a run-off.

Bureau Report