31st January, 2015
The Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) said no party or group had written to say that it was not interested in participating in the elections debate.
Taiwo Alimi, founding Chairman/Consultant of the NEDG, said this in an interview with newsmen after a meeting in Abuja on Friday preparatory to the conduct of the debate.
He said the NEDG had the acknowledgement copies of reminders sent out on Friday. He assured that the body still remained very credible and non-partisan.
“So far, all the political parties are attending the debate beginning from Sunday; there is no party that has written to the NEDG saying that they were not going to take part.
“Just earlier today, our secretariat sent out reminders to all the participating political parties and they all signed that they received our letter.
“Not one is saying that they will not come, all the parties will attend.”
He explained that the NEDG is made up of Nigeria Guild of Editors, National Alliance for Credible Elections in Nigeria, Association of Young Professionals, and National Council of Women Societies.
He also named the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria made up of all privately and government owned media houses in Nigeria.
“Therefore, given the composition of the NEDG since 2003, it is an organisation with integrity, with trust, with competence and with experience.
“It remains the largest platform for debate in Nigeria and Africa. Therefore, there is no such thing about being government owned.
“All the privately owned media houses are part of the NEDG,” he stressed.
He emphasised that the NEDG was the greatest platform for those who want to let Nigerians know what they will do, how they will do it.
Mr Isaac Ighure, General Secretary, Nigerian Guild of Editors, said the meeting was to fine-tune arrangements for a hitch-free conduct of the elections debates.
He said Nigerians had responded positively by sending in 6000 questions so far. Ighure said the questions would be considered and harmonised by the Questions Harmanisation Committee of the NEDG.
He said that the group had, however, forwarded all the thematic areas that question may be drawn from to all participating political parties to help them prepare.
“As we speak, the committee on the collation of the question is still meeting. So, how possible is it that you will leak question that has not even been collated.
“We should dispel the notion that the NEDG is favouring some political parties and leaking questions to them: in any case, every candidate is going to answer the same questions.
“Do not forget that there is nobody scoring anybody; you are presenting your manifesto to the electorate, they are the ones to decide, not the NEDG,” he said.
He disclosed that the group had also made arrangements with health providers to take care of any emergencies but stressed that the group does not hope for any.
Earlier in a press statement, the group stressed that no particular media house or group of media houses, government or private, was influencing the group’s activities.
The statement signed by Tony Akiotu, Chairman, Media/Publicity Committee of the NEDG, said the Chairmanship of BON which rotates among government media, was now being considered for amendment to include private media.
He said that the question template is usually made available to all parties and no party is favoured over another.
Akiotu said the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been reached concerning the purported boycott of the debate and hoped that party’s candidate would attend.
NAN recalls that the APC on Thursday issued a statement that it will boycott the debate citing the composition of the group as part of its reasons.