A major drama occurred at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, venue of the presidential debate, as the former vice president and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, refused to participate in the debate, citing the absence of President Buhari as reason.
Accompanied by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former governor of Niger State, Aliu Muazu Babangida, the former VP explained that they had assurances that Buhari would be at the debate, saying, “There is no reason to proceed with the debate because we had to cut short our trip to from the US to debate the president. If he is not here, there is no need to continue with the debate”
Atiku however, apologised to all Nigerians, fellow candidates and the moderator for the absence of the All Progressives Candidate (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in the debate, adding that Buhari’s non-appearance is a slight on Nigerians and democracy.
He said: “We came here for a Presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar can not challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.
“I do not believe in attacking a man who is not here to defend himself. As a leader and former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the the APC Presidential Candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on all of us and our democracy.
“Secondly, with all due respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and to the moderator Mark Sugar and with apologies to all Nigerians here and at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret that I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence.
“I however challenge President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well.”