The Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) provided revised timetables for the anticipated presidential debates to SaharaReporters in an interview. A NEDG official, with the group for many years, confirmed that there will be a total of six televised vice presidential and presidential debates on Feb. 1 and Feb. 8.
Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate from the All Progressives Congress (APC), has not yet confirmed his attendance for any NEDG organized debate, according to a senior NEDG official. A letter was sent to SaharaReporters last week from The Nigeria Group, stating that APC should be weary of participating in any event organized by NEDG because of their alleged pro-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stance. “NEDG cannot organize a credible debate…given its current composition,” and claimed that PDP received the debate questions in advance.
Reports emerged last week that a second group, with an alleged pro-APC stance, was organizing debates to counter NEDG’s. An official from an international election monitoring group told SaharaReporters that, “there are now two competing groups organizing debates, but neither platform has confirmation of both main [APC and PDP] presidential candidates.” When asked to comment a senior NEDG official said “NEDG is the only recognized platform for debate,” and cited its role in organizing the 2011 debates. No information on this alleged second group has emerged at the time of writing, and neither official could confirm any details.
The debates are expected to feature the four leading political parties, including PDP and APC, but NEDG is currently waiting for the list of established political parties from the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), a NEDG official told Sahara Reporters.
It is expected that vice presidential debates will be held on Feb. 1 and the presidential debates will be held on Feb. 8. The structure will have 3 two-hour sessions per day, and are expected to be televised on AIT, NTA, TV Continental, and Silverbird TV. NEDG is in early discussions with famed Nigerian broadcast journalist John Momoh to be the moderator, and will include two additional panelists.
According to NEDG, the debate times will be 12:00-14:00, 15:00-17:00, and 19:00-21:00 West Africa Time Zone.