Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) says he is too busy to attend presidential debates or grant interviews to the media.
The former Lagos governor stated through the spokesperson of his Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, explaining why he boycotted the presidential debate by Arise TV in conjunction with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr Tinubu was later reportedly seen at a birthday bash of his friend, retired colonel Sani Bello, at a venue not far from where the evening debate took place.
He has shunned several public appearances and made several gaffes at the ones he attended with the latest where he said Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna turned a rotten situation to a bad one, stirring controversies about his health and mental fitness to govern the country.
While Atiku Abubakar, standard-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), sent his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to represent him, others including Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP) candidate and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) were present.
In the explanation contained in a statement, he said he has numerous invitations from radio and television stations and does not want to be seen attending one while ignoring the other.
He urged members of the ruling party to relay his manifesto to the citizens through town hall meetings and other available avenues.
The full statement is reproduced below.
The APC Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not attend the presidential debate organised by ARISE TV on Sunday, November 6, 2022, for the following reasons:
Firstly, many radio and TV networks in Nigeria have indicated interests to host such debates and out of deference to other TV and radio stations, our candidate will not be making selective appearances in some networks, whilst ignoring others.
As President of Nigeria, by the Special Grace of God, he intends to treat all persons and businesses fairly and equally.
Secondly, the busy and hectic campaign schedules of Asiwaju Tinubu will not permit him to honour all such invitations by different radio and TV networks, hence our decision for him not to start with one TV station and later ignore others.
Thirdly, our candidate had long before now realised the importance of speaking directly to Nigerians and shortly after unfolding his Action Plan as President embarked on Town Hall meetings beginning with his interaction with the Business Community and other stakeholders in Kano followed by the Town Hall meeting and presentation by experts last week in Lagos. Tomorrow, he will be interacting with Agro and Commodity Groups in Minna, Niger State.
Whilst we thank Arise TV for the invitation, we want to assure Nigerians that we shall continue to hold these debate groups and Nigerians in high esteem. Nigerians will hear from our candidate loud and clear through other forums.
Lastly, out of profound respect for Nigerians, we urge all our party structures and supporters at the grassroots to continue to organise town hall meetings to educate Nigerians on the Action Plan of our candidate as we believe a grassroots-approach to reach Nigerians will also be more profound.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb (UK)
Director, Public Affairs and Spokespersons,
Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.