While speaking at the quarterly consultative meeting with media executives in Abuja, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu revealed that the Commission do not posses the power to force any electoral candidate to attend a debate.
As reported by THE NATION, the INEC chairman pointed out that debate, just like voting, is a democratic right, hence cannot be forced on any candidate, however, there are “unspoken consequences” for those who do not participate.
Yakubu explained that the essence of debate is to better inform voters. He admitted that one of the reasons candidates shy away from attending debates is to prevent making mistakes that may discourage voters.
In his words;
“I am not sure we can compel someone to attend the debate. You cannot do that. Even in most advanced countries, you can’t compel someone to do anything in a democracy. Debate, just like voting, is a democratic right. We know debates are to make citizens be better informed. However, there is an unspoken consequence for candidates not participating. I o understand that some candidates prefer not to attend in order to avoid making mistakes that would drive voters from them. We are, however, happy with the job the election debate group is doing. The effort of the media in this aspect should be supported, but they should also be non-partisan.”