Premium Times, Nigeria, 25 Nov. 2022 – The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has declined an invitation to Arise TV presidential town hall meeting.
Mr Tinubu was scheduled to appear at the town hall series on 4 December alongside the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso.
It will focus on education, healthcare, poverty and human capital development.
However, the APC Presidential Campaign Council, in a statement by its spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, on Friday, said he will not attend the event.
Arise is organising the town hall meeting in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and other organisations.
Two editions of the town hall meeting have so far been held while the next one will hold on 4 December. Arise TV partnered with PREMIUM TIMES in one of the series.
Mr Tinubu had declined an invitation to the first meeting on Security and Economy held on 6 November. He said the debate clashed with his campaign schedule.
He was replaced with Kola Abiola, the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party. The presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, was represented by his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
You cannot railroad our programme – Onanuga
In the statement, Mr Onanuga accused the organisers of being unprofessional by not consulting them.
Mr Onanuga said the campaign plans to maintain the “direct engagement approach” by organising its own meetings with relevant bodies.
“Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement by Arise News in connection with a Town Hall meeting scheduled for 4 December.
“We are surprised that the TV station listed our candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a participant, when there was no prior consultation with him and his aides and no consent of the candidate obtained for the advertisement.
“We deem this as professionally wrong and reckless. No media organisation should arrogate to itself the right to railroad any candidate to fit into its own agenda,” he said.
Mr Onanuga restated that the busy campaign of the APC candidate would not permit him to honour all invitations from different organisations.
“As we said in an earlier statement, the busy and hectic campaign schedules of Asiwaju Tinubu will not permit him to honour all invitations from different radio and TV stations for debate and or Town Hall meetings hence our decision for him not to start with one media organisation and later ignore the others. In the absence of a unified and mutually acceptable all parties and all candidates platform, our candidate has been speaking directly to Nigerians, since President Muhammadu Buhari launched Tinubu’s Action Plan for a Better Nigeria.
“Till date, over seven town hall meetings with strategic sectors have been held across the geopolitical zones, where the candidate and his running mate have spoken about their programmes.
“These direct engagements will continue before the election on 25 February 2023.