The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, last night stormed out of a presidential debate held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Atiku, who was accompanied to the debate by the Director General of his campaign organisation and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, told newsmen when they confronted him with questions that he walked out because the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, who he wanted to challenge at the debate was absent.
“We came here for a presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar cannot challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies.
“After all, you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence. I do not believe in attacking a man who is not here to defend himself.
“As a leader and former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC presidential candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slap on all of us and our democracy.
“Secondly, with all due respect to my fellow candidates, Fela Durotoye, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and to the moderator Mark Sugar and with apologies to all Nigerians here and at home expecting an interesting debate, I regret that I will not be able to go on with this debate due to President Buhari’s absence.
“I, however, challenge President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well.
“He is not here to defend that record. So who am I going to debate with? If he is on his way, when he comes, I will come back. In any case, I will have an opportunity to address Nigerians because there are other interviews in the plan. I came back from the US to participate in this debate but the President is not here,” Atiku said.