Elnathan John, a young Nigerian, who was live at the just concluded “What About Us” Youth Focused Presidential Debate shares his views on the pulse of the debate.
For more balance, you can read another Nigerian’s perspective on CP-Africa here.
I wonder if it was my heightened anticipation or the thorough lackluster performance of the participant that made me feel disappointed in the debate. However when I remember that most members of the diplomatic corp seated in the seats ahead of me, left halfway through the debate, I think it must be the latter.
The frail-looking Ribadu, was the first of the contestants to arrive the venue. He sauntered past me unaccompanied by the usual entourage that candidates drag along. Then came Momodu, his tummy ahead of him, flanked by the young members of his campaign team.
I realised there was going to be a problem when I saw three seats arranged. There were not going to stand. Perhaps they became too comfortable in the very cold hall. Perhaps they were tired. Perhaps they didn’t just take the event seriously.
For me he was the most unimpressive, most vague of the candidates. He hardly answered any question and although his left hand seemed to write a lot on the yellow sheet of paper he had, he didn’t seem to have his thoughts coordinated and kept giving bogus long winding answers that prompted the anchor Ms Adichie to keep asking ‘How?’. At certain points he seemed a bit distant and a bit carried away.
He had neither the carriage of a presidential aspirant nor the ideas of a man that should hold political office. He was joking half the time and also spoke in circles like the rest. He claim to fame and competence was being, at only 30, the highest paid editor in Nigeria and having run the Ovation company successfully. Methinks the man should face the business of glorifying the fabulous lives of the rich and famous.
Regal in appearance in his white babanriga, white shoes and white stockings, he came across as the most mature and dignified of the lot. He was more methodical in his handling of the questions and more thoughtful in his delivery. He had by far more statistics than any of the three and appeared to be calmer and more result oriented. Like the rest he also bungled some questions and made Kano seem like the paradise that we know it is not.
For me the questions were weak, general, and not designed to elicit any serious response from the contestants, much unlike the NN24 debate. The delectable anchor Ms. Adichie, was very soft on the contestants and didn’t really control the pace of the debates. She didn’t engage them enough and make them talk to each other.
The video questions uploaded by the organizers was a sham because the very persons they claimed were random youth asking questions, were part of the organizers themselves. All prearranged. I expected them to have gone out to ask persons other than themselves to participate. The dull questions produced dull answers.
The debate on the whole was commendable and the result of hard work on the part of many youth organizations. However as far as substance goes, it was less than admirable.
Audience member, What About Us Debates.
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