Buhari finally gives reason why he won't debate with Jonathan
byNaija Blog Queen Olofofo-
No debate between Buhari and Jonathan.
Gen Muhammadu Buhari has finally given the reasons why he turned down the chance to debate with President Goodluck Jonathan on tv.
Gen. Buhari said also that change revolution without firing a shot was imminent in the country.
Buhari, who spoke at an interactive session with members of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria( NPAN) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors( NGE) in Abuja, restated his stand against a debate with President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said there was nothing to debate after 16 years of misrule, especially what he described as the six years of bad governance under Jonathan.
He said: “To be fair to me and Mr. President, after 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and six years of his time, is there anything to debate?
“Very seriously, you know the condition we are in; we are all experiencing it, no matter who you are. So, what should I debate there?”
On the general election, Buhari said the shift on February 14 was unnecessary.
He said INEC made it clear that it was prepared for the elections.
He gave insights into what INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega told the Council of State meeting and how the military differed.
He said Nigerians were waiting to see whether or not the military would have rid Adamawa, Borno and Yobe of Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “I will give you the latest. When INEC submitted a comprehensive document on February 14th election to the Council of State, a number of us made comments. INEC did a good job and they put it on record because after submitting a document, you cannot withdraw it.
“They submitted a document on what they had been doing since 2011, including training of personnel, acquiring election materials and how they were distributing them; and how they secured them.
“They even said they were ready to conduct the election because they had achieved about 60 per cent distribution of the voter cards. In the previous elections, it had never been better than 45 per cent. But they were prepared.
“Somehow, the military told them they cannot guarantee their security. Then six weeks were given and for Nigerians, those six weeks were within the perimeter allowed for the election. So, INEC said they should be allowed to give the military six weeks.”
Gen. Buhari said Nigerians had been watching the military on how it would secure the remaining local government areas before the polls.
He added: “The reasons given have exposed the inefficiency of the leadership because there were only 14 local government areas in the hands of Boko Haram. These were 10 in Borno, two in Yobe and two in Adamawa.
“If Nigerian military cannot secure 14 local government areas in six years, how can they do it in six weeks. We are watching. We have only about 10 days to go in the six weeks. Let us see. In spite of the help of our generous neighbors, let us see whether the remaining LGAs can be secured.
“So, those in favour of presidential debate have a lot to do to convince me to do it.”
On press freedom, Gen. Buhari said: “I want to give you my full assurances that in this democratic dispensation, I will ensure that the Nigerian constitution is upheld. This includes respect for the media, respect for the right to free expression and freedom of speech. Many of you are aware of Decree 4 of 1984, which was heavily criticised.
“I have said elsewhere that I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. Dictatorship goes with military rule as do edicts, such as Decree 4.
“ However, I am a former—former, note the emphasis on the word ‘former’—military ruler and now a converted democrat, who is ready to operate under democratic norms.
“I am not only subjecting myself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time, but even after being elected, I will continue to promote the consolidation of democracy in our great country, Nigeria, by guaranteeing that the media’s freedom is not compromised in any way.
“I give you my full assurances that the Nigerian media will be free under our APC government.”
He urged media owners and editors to shun hate reports and slanderous political rhetorics.
He said: “I also want to use this opportunity to appeal to you to use your media outlets in shaping positive public discourse and eschew hate speech mongering and slanderous political rhetorics which heat up the polity for the sake of peace and stability of our dear nation.
“There are two specific reasons why I have invited you here today. The first is to use the opportunity to say a special thank you to the Nigerian media for the role you have played in advancing our country’s democracy thus far, and especially for being a platform through which Nigerians’ cry for change was articulated all around the world.
“On newspaper pages, TV screens and radio waves, the alarming depth of corruption and impunity in our country, the terrifying level of insecurity, and the grim state of our economy were kept constantly before the world’s eyes, making it impossible for the current government to doctor the truth, despite their meanest efforts.
“I urge you to not relent in your role as watchdogs, to continue to be the voice of the people. The health of Nigeria’s democracy rests partly on you. Without a robust and thriving media, the masses would have no voice.
“The electorate would also not have sufficient information to make sound decisions, such as deciding to vote out a clueless government and vote in change. “
Gen. Buhari added: “Our country is on the verge of something new. The tide has turned and the world can sense the wave of change that is about to flood this nation. In less than two weeks, the Nigerian electorate will head to the polls to make their voices heard. Through the ballot, without a single shot fired, a change revolution will likely take place. “
After his speech, Gen. Buhari responded to questions.
But it was not without drama when NPAN President, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, asked Gen. Buhari if he was ready to apologise to two journalists who were jailed in 1984 under Decree 4.
Immediately after Obaigbena asked the question, the Director-General of APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, said: “Gen. Buhari had already answered that question by saying he cannot change the past but he can change present and the future.”
Contrary to rumours of a split in the opposition, ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and top leaders of the party attended the parley.
At the session, Gen. Buhari ruled out any presidential debate with President Goodluck Jonathan.
But the presence of Atiku at the session added flavour as it dispelled rumours of cracks in APC following a meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the ex-Vice President Atiku.
Clad in a white kaftan, Atiku, who sat on the high table with Gen. Buhari, was all smiles.
An aide of his said: “What happened was that Jonathan in his desperation, visited Atiku at odd hours to seek his assistance to win the poll. There was no way the former VP can snub the nation’s leader. He only listened to him.
“But the ex-VP will not back out of his support for Buhari. His presence at this briefing is a message that the game is up for Jonathan. Has he forgotten how he disgraced Atiku at the Eagle Square to secure the presidential ticket?
“ There was a meeting but there was nothing to it.”