Nigeria`s presidential debate held without Jonathan
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 19, 2011, 15:31
  
Abuja: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan did not appear during a presidential debate organised by a television station ahead of April polls even as three of his rivals participated in the discussion and vowed to fight corruption.

His absence drew criticisms here as people saw it as a reminiscence of the behaviour of a former President Olusegun Obasanjo who refused to appear at every debate but went ahead to win the elections under the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Jonathan is also of the PDP which is accused of rigging most of the presidential elections even though the opposition parties fail to prove that in courts.

The aspirants who appeared were former military head of state whose party is called Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari, former anti-corruption boss of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), Nuhu Ribadu and a former governor contesting under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Ibrahim Shekarau.

Buhari promised to probe the power sector that has engendered epileptic electricity supply all over the country.

"We need to put our dams to optimum utilisation. When we are sworn-in, we need to investigate what happened to our national resources voted for this sector between 1999 to this time," he said.

Though Buhari's rule in 1984 was seen as iron fisted his admirers say he was not a corrupt leader and was only using the method to fight corruption.

He was also appointed the head of Petroleum Trust Fund by subsequent administration during which period no corrupt practises were recorded against him and infrastructures like roads were built by him.

Shekarau referred to his achievement as governor of Kano state and vowed to tackle issues of water supply. He also said he would work with sincerity to restore efficient power supply.

Ribadu pledged to tackle the issue of restiveness in the oil producing Niger Delta by providing employment for the youth and getting people involved in a marshal plan.

Later, Jonathan issued a statement saying he would appear during a debate scheduled for March 29.

Nigeria's April elections are expected to be the most closely watched in the country with the new independent national electoral commission's (INEC) chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega promising to remove rigging which often leads to voter apathy and international criticisms.

The oil rich African country is the biggest democracy on the continent with a population of 150 million people. It returned to civil rule in 1999 after several years of intermittent military interference in its politics.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, March 19, 2011, 15:31


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