2023: Tinubu not mandated by constitution to attend debates, asks supporters to boycott Arise TV

The presidential campaign council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) says its candidate, Bola Tinubu, will not attend the town hall series organised by Arise TV in collaboration with other organisations.

The PCC, in a statement issued on Saturday by one of its spokespersons, Bayo Onanuga, said the 1999 Constitution does not make it mandatory for a candidate to attend a debate organised by any entity.

Arise TV had in a statement recently asked all candidates to respect the Constitution and attend its debate after Mr Tinubu refused to honour the first invitation and even vowed not to attend other debates.

“Expects all candidates seeking elections to form a government under this constitution, to respect the letters and spirit of the law, either on Arise news channel or any broadcast channel or media of their choice, to respond to questions from independent journalists,” Arise TV said in a statement.

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.

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The PCC, in the statement by Mr Onanuga, accused the television of being biased against Mr Tinubu and vowed not to participate in any debate organised by Arise TV.

“We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.

“While it is right that the media has a clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.

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“The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC Presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country,” he said.

The campaign said Mr Tinubu will be speaking at Chatham House in London, hence, he will not be around.

“The APC Presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such event is his scheduled event for Monday, December 5, 2022 at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy,” the PCC said.

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Furthermore, it appears as though the campaign and Arise TV are now in full-blown war as the PCC has asked its spokespersons and supporters to boycott the television station.

“We seize this opportunity to warn our spokesmen and supporters to steer clear of this station over its consistent unprofessionalism and bias against our candidate and party,” it said.

In November, the PCC wrote a petition to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) demanding sanctions against Arise TV and other media houses.

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