There were some moments of wrangling in Nigeria’s first TV debate on Friday night among political party candidates ahead of the February 16 presidential election.
And expectedly the feud was between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Dr Peter Obi, the vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
The first argument arose when Obi derided Buhari administration’s anti-corruption efforts as tantamount to closing the shop and chasing the thieves. Osinbajo rebutted the analogy and asked Obi, whether anything will be left in the shop if criminals looted all the inventory.
The two speakers also disagreed on whether Nigeria has improved its ambience to attract foreign investment. While Obi reeled out statistics about the volume of foreign investment in other economies, Osinbajo punctured by the fact that the countries Obi cited, such as South Africa and China have one thing in common: adequate infrastructure.
According to Osinbajo, the APC government is investing heavily in this area, in roads and rail transport. He also reminded the audience where Nigeria was in 2015 in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business, rising from 170th position in 2015 to 146th today. Osinbajo blamed Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit from 1999 to 2015 on the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) administration, which governed Nigeria then and how the Buhari administration in three and half years, despite declining financial resources, has changed the narrative.
Analysts believe that the 2019 Vice Presidential Debate organized by the Nigeria Election Debate Group in collaboration with the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) and Civil Society Organisations should have been a straight debate between Osinbajo and Obi, as the three other candidates did not offermuch in terms of contribution. Osinbajo and Obi were the stars of the night and as they spoke, they occasionally attracted jeers or cheers from the planted crowd in the audience at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Abuja. The moderator several times warned that certain reactions from the audience were a breach ofthe rule.