The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said that its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) would no longer be part of the Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria (BON)-organised presidential debate for political parties.
The party hinged its decision on alleged unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against its interest and candidates.
APC was conspicuously absent at the first debate held over the weekend where the Directors General of some of the political parties were featured.
Director, Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, APCPCO, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in a statement in Abuja that the debate, being powered by the Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDG, was fraught with fundamental errors from the outset, by wearing the toga of government control, especially being composed mainly of agencies and allies of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
‘A salutary inspection of the composition of NEGD brings into focus the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, National Television Authority, NTA, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, and the Africa Independent Television, AIT, owned by a PDP chieftain.
‘And going by the avalanche of inflammatory statements, misinformation and blatant lies being propagated by some of these media against our party and candidates, contrary to the Koffi Annan brokered Abuja Peace Accord, and the failure of these aggressors to desist and apologise, the APC campaign is left with no option than to steer clear of any premeditated smear campaign that could be inimical to our prospective electoral success,’ Shehu said.
The APCPCO spokesman further explained that the boycott should not be seen as disrespect to Nigerian voters, or an alibi for the party to dodge public scrutiny; but must be viewed as an honourable right not to consent to any activity that could distract, demean, denigrate or derail the fast-moving train of the party.
‘The APC is a party of progressive intellectuals, genuine technocrats, successful businessmen and women, and most of all eminent and courteous people of honour, who would never condescend to the level of sadistic gutter propaganda, all in the name of political exigency and crass opportunism,’ Shehu said.
He noted that many government- controlled media have clipped the wings of APC promotional advertisements on one excuse or the other, adding that until a court upturned its decision, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, shutdown some telecom portals for soliciting legitimate campaign funds from members of the public for the party.
He added: ‘Aside, elements close to sitting President Goodluck Jonathan have commissioned series of derogatory and death threat advertorials against the person, family and associates of the opposition leader, General Muhammadu Buhari, to which the APC had sent letters of complaint to the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of State Security Service, DSS, Advertisers Practitioners of Nigeria, APCON, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the erring media that published or aired such offensive adverts or documentaries.