By Caleb Ayansina
ABUJA – The Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG), yesterday, debunked rumours that the group had leaked election debate questions to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, just as it fixed 1, 8 February 2015 for Vice Presidential and Presidential debates respectively.
The Chairman of the NEDG, Mr Shola Omole stated this during a press conference on the preparation of the Presidential Debates organised by the NEDG, in Abuja.
Omole, who is also the Director General of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), said 13 out of 14 political parties recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had indicated interest to take part in the debate.
He maintained that NEDG is an apolitical group that was made up of the media and people of impeccable characters from the society, therefore, it had no interest on who wins the forthcoming presidential election.
According to him, “As of right now I can say that 13 political parties have confirmed that they will attend the debate. We are still working on it and we still have a few days to go before the debate.
“I will like to state that the NEDG is not a partisan organization but a collection of media people, civil society organizations, professional associations who have an interest in ensuring that Nigerians have better adequate and relevant information to enhance their ability to be able to take a decision on voting day.
“As we speak, the questions that are going to be asked on the date of the debate are still being worked upon by our debate committee. Those questions are not ready; as I am speaking to you, the questions are not yet ready; there is still work in progress. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why anybody will have the questions right now.”
The Media Consultant to the NEDG, Mr Taiwo Allimi disclosed that over 3,000 questions had been submitted to the group from Nigerians, adding that the election debate would be “issues based and issues driven”.
Allimi explained that the platform would not give any score card, and that, “there will be non-participatory audience; the audience is not to clap, yell or laugh during the entire debate.
“It is on the date of the debate, when the debate is about to go on air that we (the NEDG) will now give the moderators and the panelists the questions they will be asking the candidates.”