16TH MARCH, 2023
Arise TV Gubernatorial Debate: Matters Arising
Last night, Arise TV hosted Delta State gubernatorial candidates to a debate in preparation for the forthcoming elections. We wish to observe as follows.
1. Given the rising profile and the international image of Arise TV, Deltans had looked forward to a professional, robust, and well-packaged debate devoid of bias and partisanship on the part of the organisers. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The event was poorly organised, and the moderators played the roles of judge and jury that left a sour taste in the mouth of many viewers. Even while the debate was ongoing, the social media space was awash with comments about the haughty and unprofessional conduct of the moderators.
2. Our gubernatorial candidate, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, through the campaign office, had sent his apologies to Arise TV in a letter conveying his inability to participate due to prior scheduled engagements. The letter was sent through Email and WhatsApp to the organisers at 12:49pm on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. To our shock and chagrin, the letter was all over the social media within 30 minutes of our sending it.
4. Mr. Frank Tietie, the principal moderator of the debate, read out the letters from the PDP and APC explaining their inability to take part in the debate. The PDP letter was straight to the point on why our candidate could not participate in the debate. But the APC letter contained scurrilous attacks on Oborevwori. This was a very unprofessional and unethical act on the part of Arise TV, because it was tantamount to providing air time for APC to malign the person of Rt Hon. Oborevwori.
4. We note that Mr. Tietie has been a strident critic and antagonist of the Okowa administration. He was a prominent actor in the callous dissemination of false claims on the loan status of Delta State, which the fact checker debunked yesterday. He frequently used his Arise TV platform to spew those lies with impunity and castigate the government. Given his bias and prejudice against the Okowa administration, we were surprised that he was chosen to moderate the debate.
5. The female moderator, Angela Ajetunmobi, prefaced the question on healthcare with the false statement that pregnant women who require cesarean procedures pay for the services in state hospitals contrary to what obtained in the past. This is absolute bunkum because the Okowa administration rolled over and integrated the free maternal care and free medical care for children under 5 into the contributory health insurance scheme.
6. The combative – and adversarial – posture of Mr. Tietie in insisting that Rt. Hon. Oborevwori MUST come to Arise TV to speak to Deltans betrays the pretentious neutrality of the moderators. His outburst is not only unethical, it is also insulting and provocative. Besides, there is no provision in our laws that mandates candidates to participate in television debates.
7. In view of the obvious bad faith and hostility displayed by the moderators towards Rt. Hon. Oborevwori, we have absolutely no confidence in the Arise TV debate programme as currently constituted. This eleventh-hour debate looks more like a set up than a sincere effort to raise the bar of political discourse in our dear State. We reiterate that this debate is ill-conceived, ill-motivated, ill-timed, and ill-intentioned. Our candidate, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori will, therefore, not be participating.
God bless Delta State.
Dr. Ifeanyi M. Osuoza.
Deputy Director, Media & Publicity,
Delta PDP Campaign Council/ State Publicity Secretary,
Delta State PDP.