January 10, SaharaReporters published a story headlined “APC Coalition Joins Conspiracy To Exclude Sowore From Presidential Debate” In a statement issued by Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, Director-General of the Sowore 2019 Campaign says “The African Action Congress and the Sowore 2019 Campaign has been notified of a plot to use frivolous lawsuits as a salt tactic to prevent a timely ruling on the case instituted by our party for the inclusion of Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the party, in the January 19th NEDG/BON 2019 Debate.”

“According to the party, the United Party of Nigeria (UPN), which is a member of the APC-led Coalition of Progressives Political Parties (CPPP), is set to file a motion at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja seeking to be joined as a party in the Sowore suit.” 

The exclusion of Sowore from the debate has become the debate before the presidential debate. Nigerians are flabbergasted, scratching their heads why the hell Sowore who has proven to be a great communicator on the campaign trail, a tireless campaigner, a charismatic crowd puller, and a brilliant debater who explicates the great issues of our time for ordinary Nigerians was yanked from the debate.

The new plan of APC as a co-conspirator in the plot to disallow Sowore from participating in the debate make President Buhari an accomplice. In nearly four years of his presidency, Buhari has totally disengaged and distanced himself from Nigerians given his aloofness and spectating position on important and controversial national issues when he should have addressed the Nigerian people. 

Buhari has remained dangerously reticent, wickedly reclusive, sneakily elusive, and a terrible taciturn who fail to use the bully pulpit to connect with Nigerians. For example, it took him four days as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to issue a terse statement after 100 of his soldiers were butchered by Boko Haram.

Mr. President, you're employed by the Nigerian people. Sir, you're duty bound to feel their pulse on any issue by talking to them and getting feedback. As president, you cannot choose to remain silent. Right now, there's a rumor making the rounds that your handlers have surreptitiously scheduled your next doctor's appointment in London to coincide with the date of the debate so a proxy will fill in for you.

The question that agitates the minds of Nigerians is: Why would President Buhari through his party APC join the conspirators to exclude Sowore from the debate? Who is afraid of Sowore? What are you afraid of President Buhari? Why do you want to deny Nigerians the opportunity to hear from Sowore? Why are you scared of being on the debate stage with Sowore? Nigerians are dying to hear from Sowore why he wants your job. 

In fact, you should insist on debating Sowore so you can amplify your achievements as president in the past four years live on a national TV. If you ever go on stage with Sowore, we promise you our eyes will be stuck to the screen like peanut butter on bread. Please don't let this rare opportunity pass you!

The importance of presidential debates cannot be stressed enough. Debates force candidates to discuss issues they would rather not discuss. Debates allow candidates to deny or confirm some of their bogus campaign claims and exaggerated promises. Debates allow voters to assess men and women running for office without the usual filters. Debates provide opportunity for candidates to defend their cagey positions and irritable repudiation of the other's views, record, and ability. 

Debates will reveal to Nigerians who among the candidates is well groomed, prepared, and ready to govern through display of confidence, construction of logical arguments that make sense, the opportunity to hear and see audience's reactions, and the humility to listen and respond to others' arguments. Debates also guarantee the freedom of speech by allowing people with whom we disagree to speak.

If we examined, scrutinized, and grilled our presidential candidates and see who is best fit, best prepared for the job, who demonstrates sound judgement, ability and intelligence, superior analysis, mastery of the problems and proffered solutions, the debate will recommend for voters who they'll cast their votes for The debate will prove who is the dead dog and the living lion... Let's go there!

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