Nigeria’s opposing party, All Progressives Congress (APC) says it will not participate in the ongoing public debates on national television and radio stations organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG).
This is contained in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja and Thursday and signed by Malam Garba Shehu, the Director Media and Publicity of the APC Campaign Organisation.
The statement said it decision to boycot the debates ”is because of the unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates”.
It alleged that the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG), co-ordinating the debate, was fraught with fundamental errors from the outset.
The statement said the NEDG was wearing the toga of government and composed mainly of agencies and allies of the incumbent PDP -led administration.
”A salutary inspection of the composition of the NEGD brings into focus the BON, NTA, FRCN and AIT, (owned by a PDP chieftain).
”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, have left the APC Campaign with no option than to steer clear of any premeditated smear campaign that could be inimical to our prospective electoral success.
”The boycott by the APC should not be seen as disrespect to Nigerian voters, or an alibi for the party to dodge public scrutiny.
”It 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.”
It alleged 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 their decision recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had shut down some telecom portals for soliciting legitimate campaign funds from members of the public for APC.
The statement said that the APC had sent letters of complaint to the Inspector-General of Police, Directorate of State Security (DSS) and others but had yet to receive replies on the complaints.
”None of our letters of protest has been attended to by the authorities.
”The APC/Buhari campaign is now a people’s movement. The more they try to rubbish it, the more popular we are with the populace,” it said.