The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said he was at the venue of the ongoing presidential debates in Abuja.
He, however, said he declined to participate because President Muhammadu Buhari was absent.
Mr Abubakar said he returned from the U.S. because he wanted to take part in the debate, but since the president was a no show, he had no reason to proceed.
Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Duro-toye are the only three presidential candidates debating at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Mr Abubakar said in a tweet that the upcoming general election would be a referendum on Mr Buhari, and not on the other candidates.
“I arrived the Congress Hall of the Hilton venue of the #2019Debate. This debate and the election is a referendum on the incumbent,” Mr Abubakar said.
Mr Abubakar later sent in this statement:
WHY I DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE – Atiku
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.