……..“We have several challenges facing the nation and these are caused by years of PDP misrule. We must vote in Gen. Buhari to move this country forward.”
……….. “We must never allow a dictator to steer the affairs of this nation in a democratic period. He would infringe on the fundamental rights of the people and prosecute people he perceives as personal enemies. President Jonathan is an unrepentant democrat and he is the best man to lead the country.”
Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State have held a mock presidential debate ahead of the March 28 election. The debaters, who stood on the platform of either the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), marshalled points on why their parties should win the election. The parking lot of the students’ Union Building was aglow for the event. AFEES LASISI (300-Level Political Science) reports.
Call it a mock presidential debate and you won’t be wrong. But the discussants had a common purpose – the progress of the country. They made their presentation without rancour. They explained how their adopted parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – would achieve their goals – if elected.
These were no candidates contesting elections; they are students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State. Last Friday, they participated in a debate organised by the leadership of the Students’ Union Government (SUG).
The car park of the Students’ Union Building (SUB) was filled by students who came to listen to the programmes of both parties. The debate, which was part of the union’s leadership conference, was put together by Akorede Awode, its Assistant General Secretary.
Akorede said the debate was to enlighten students on the party with the best programmes and candidate in the March 28 presidential election.
President Goodluck Jonathan is PDP’s candidate; Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is for APC. Both parties were represented by students at the debate.
PDP’s representatives were Goodluck Osaretin and Samuel Fakiyesi. Ismaheel Bayewunmi represented APC. The session was moderated by Olatayo Shittu, the General Secretary and Seun Fakorede, a student.
Samuel, one of the PDP discussants, argued that President Jonathan should be given another chance to bring his Transformation Agenda to fruition, noting that the president’s programmes had brought meaningful development in the last six years. He said another four years of Jonathan would be to the country’s good.
He said: “President Jonathan has allowed other arms of government to function freely without meddling in their affairs. The entrepreneurship programmes introduced by the president have created millions of jobs for youths. We have also enjoyed freedom of speech unlike what we used to have under the military.
“The signing of Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill into law has brought about free press and people can criticise the government without fear of arrest. The president has boosted education with the establishment of more federal universities across regions. The increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has made our economy to grow faster, thereby making the nation largest economy in Africa.”
But APC’s Ismaheel said there was a difference between economic growth and economic development.
Economic growth, he said, is the number of sustained businesses and investment in the country. He defined economic development as the impact of the growth on the masses. He punctured PDP’s debaters’ claim of economic development, saying the condition of living of the masses has worsened.
Ismaheel challenged his opponents to explain why the value of naira is falling against the dollar if truly the economy is growing. He asked them to provide statistics of jobs created yearly by the Jonathan administration in the last five years.
Insurgency in the Northeast, Ismaheel argued, attests to the failure of the PDP-led Federal Government. Courageous leadership, he added, is needed to combat the Boko Haram menace, saying Gen. Buhari remained the best man for the top job.
He said: “Under the PDP administration, the rate of corruption has increased and the nation has gone down further in corruption rating. To redeem the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations, we need an incorruptible and a tested leader, who will lead by example. It must be someone whose antecedent speaks volume in effective leadership and ability to fight corruption.
“All these attributes are found in Gen Buhari. I am convinced that he has what it takes to lead this nation and pave the way for real growth and development in all sectors. If our economy is stabilised, the widening gap between the dollar and naira would close and the economy would grow. APC would proffer solutions to the insecurity challenge claiming innocent lives daily. Also, education is one of the priorities in the APC manifesto; we should expect re-structuring of the education system for better and quality education.”
In his counter-argument, the second PDP discussant, Goodluck, said corruption had been in the system before the incumbent came to power. He said the president had fought corruption than any of his predecessors, stressing that Jonathan would do more to stop graft if re-elected.
Goodluck said: “We must never allow a dictator to steer the affairs of this nation in a democratic period. He would infringe on the fundamental rights of the people and prosecute people he perceives as personal enemies. President Jonathan is an unrepentant democrat and he is the best man to lead the country.”
In his closing remarks, Ismaheel said: “We have several challenges facing the nation and these are caused by years of PDP misrule. We must vote in Gen. Buhari to move this country forward.”
There were questions and contributions from members of the audience. Many were convinced beyond doubts who to vote in the presidential election.
A guest, Pastor Peter Alabi of Rhema Word Church, said the presidential election would re-define the country’s destiny, adding: “This is an election that has generated more than a passing interest on the people in the history of this country. No one knows who would win or lose.”
He advised the students not be induced by material property before voting for a party, urging them to vote according to their conscience.
Olawale Kessington, a graduate of the university, said a leader who could not tackle the nation’s challenges has no right to be in office.
Akorede said the debate was to make students decide which party to vote for in the general elections. He promised to organise a post-election debate that would feature Edo State Chief of Staff Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon. (The Nation)