Eddie Emessiri, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG), has shed more light on the real reason some candidates were excluded from the presidential debates scheduled to take place in January 2019.
He stated this in another phone conversation with Mr. Tunde Olatunji, where he gave reasons for exclusion of certain candidates from the debate.
In the conversation, Emessiri backtracked on willingness to accept funding, stating that he could not make decisions on the matter on his own.
Full Transcript of the Conversation:
Caller: ….SaharaReporters has been reporting about you or about your activities at the NEDG…and it made me to understand that the only thing they reported was that you said the reason why he was excluded from the debate was simply because of character.
Emesiri: No no no, that is a lie. That is a lie. That is what they reported. That is what they feel like reporting. So they choose what is suitable to them, what they think can be good enough for them to report so they can make it a trending story.
Caller: Now, I told them that is not the issue because you explained to me that it is funding that limited you to just put in those five people that came for the debate…that will be coming for the debate. So the way forward right now is getting the funding to enable you to put him in and other people too. So now, we really want to understand that it is not about the character, right?
Emesiri: It has nothing to do with character.
Caller: Yes, because we heard it had to do with character, so…
Emesiri: That is what your boys in Sahara put it that way…yes, it will make more sense.
Caller: Because Sowore is not somebody of errr….questionable character. So that’s why I was like 'character'? What do they really mean by character?
Emesiri: Is it also because of character that ummmm Donald Duke was not included? Donald Duke wasn’t included. There are other people like… Fasua was not included. Was it because of character?
Caller: But sir, right now…the main thing right now is just…I don’t want a situation whereby... because history will have it that we played our part and these are the people that actually stopped us. Because I made them to understand that you are not actually working with the Federal Government. Because now, what everybody is saying is Buhari is…
Emesiri: He should know now. He was set up by Tinubu… I am not being set up by anybody. When he set up SaharaReporters, was it not Tinubu that funded him? He thinks nobody knows? Please!
Caller: Sir, if Tinubu actually did that, he would have come out like, you know, they would have used that against him. The APC. Don’t you think the APC would have used that against him? Like…oh, it is our leader, Tinubu, that funded you? So, Sahara is…he has the history of how he started SaharaReporters…
Emesiri: Look, don’t tell me about… don’t tell me… look, I’ve been in the media since 1988. 1988! I’m not sure you were born by that time. If you were born, you would know. I was an editor! An editor in this country in 1988. I was an editor, not a writer.
Caller: Okay sir, what is the way forward? What is the way forward now because it will be so…
Emesiri: [unintelligible] you said you would contact the other [unintelligible] and you would come back to me now.
Caller: That is what I’m doing now.
Emesiri: What is the way…?
Caller: Sir, we have reached out. So, I gave them your number so they’re gonna reach out to you directly because we can’t accept any money from anybody that oh, they will bring the money to you, so I already gave them your number.
Emesiri: Nobody is bringing any money; nobody should bring any money. I don’t work alone. I’m just the executive secretary of a group…of coalition…a coalition of groups….NUJ is here… Nigerian Youths…[unintelligible] is here. There are so many groups that are involved. I’m just an executive secretary. It’s not a thing that I just decide to take decisions on my own…for them, that’s a thing… [unintelligible]
Caller: The question I was asked, sir, since Nigeria has a national television, the Nigeria Television Authority, don’t you think that it will be better if we put it on NTA platform…
Emesiri: Why will I take NTA platform when [unintelligible] will say they don’t want to go on NTA platform? Is NTA platform alone better than all the TV stations in Nigeria coming together to do it?
Caller: But Channels is not…
Emesiri: Yes, they’re sacrificing time! They’re sacrificing their time!
Caller: But Channels is not the country’s national television, sir.
Emesiri: Why should I… why must I use our country’s own television when I don’t want the excuse of [unintelligible]? The country’s television is said to be APC. If I go and use them and they say it’s APC for any reason, what do you expect me to say?
Caller: No, APC does not own NTA.
Emesiri: Who tells you that APC doesn’t...? Are you in the country to see PDP people or the other party members not allowed to come on NTA?
Caller: I don’t understand…
Emesiri: Please, I beg, let me not argue here. Don’t argue with me. Please! Don’t argue with me. As you say you’re not in the country. You’re arguing with me and you’re not in the country. You’re not in the country, you want me to go and take NTA. So why don’t you allow me to go and collect money from Federal Government now? You should have told me to go and collect money from Federal Government to do the debate. That would have been easier.
Caller: The Federal Government does not own NTA, NTA belongs to the Nigerian people. What I’m saying, sir, is if Channels… Hello, sir?