The incumbent President and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar are both absent at the presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria.
Less than two hours to the commencement of the debate on Saturday, January 19, 2019 the president’s media aide, Bashir Ahmed, tweeted that Buhari was in Jos, Plateau State, where he was campaigning for his re-election.
Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had featured in a town hall meeting styled interview anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, a pro-APC Channels TV anchor, on Wednesday.
Concerning the Saturday debate scheduled for 7pm West African Time, the executive secretary of NEDG, Edidi Emesiri, had, in a statement, listed candidates shortlisted for the debate alongside Buhari to include those of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye; Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and Young Progressives Party, Kingsley Moghalu.
Populist citizen reporters publisher and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoleye Sowore, was ignored by the organisers of the debate.
The debate for the vice presidential candidates held on December 14, 2018. Opinion polls after showed that Peter Obi, the running mate of Atiku Abubakar, beat Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The Coalition for United Political Parties, CUUP, on Thursday, claimed exposed that President Buhari would not appear at the debate for fears of a woeful performance.
The debate holds at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja; and it will be transmitted live on all BON member stations and its affiliates, as well as live streaming on all social media platforms.