BY: Chioma Onuegbu
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and guber candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for 2019 and his All Progressives Congress, APC, counterpart, Obong Nsima Ekere were both absent at the BBC news pidgin governorship debate held in Uyo, the state capital, yesterday.
Udom Emmanuel Governor Akwa Ibom State
The two hours live audience programme tagged “Governorship Debate with BBC News Pidgin,” held at the Theatre, University of Uyo, UNIUYO, was however, honoured by four other governorship candidates.
They are Iboro Otu of Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP, Nature Udoh of Young Progressives Party, YPP, Ezekiel Nya Etok of Young Democratic Party, YDP and Ekong Eyo of Peoples Progressives Party, PPP.
“This is the first governorship debate organised by the BBC News Pidgin. We chose to come to Akwa Ibom because of the interesting development in politics in the state and similar debate will hold in Port Harcourt on January 21st,” said organisers of the debate.
Reacting to the absence of PDP and APC candidates from the programme, the Editor of the BBC Pidgin Service, Adejuwon Soyinka said both of them gave reasons that they were on official assignments outside the state, and therefore could not participate unless on another date convenient for them.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Charles Udoh on the absence of Governor Emmanuel said, “Following an invitation extended to Governor Emmanuel to participate in the BBC pidgin English debate alongside other gubernatorial candidates and a clash of the time for the debate with another official function outside the state that is of grave importance, the governor in a telephone conversation with the BBC team appealed for a shift of time to enable him attend.”
“However, the organizers were unable to accommodate the appeal due to their crowded schedule. The Akwa Ibom State Government has consequently communicated formally the governor’s regrets to the organisers and have indicated Governor Emmanuel’s readiness and disposition to participate in any future debate.”
The candidates who appeared at the debate were drilled on issues bordering on their knowledge of governance and why they were running for the position and what they think they could do differently if voted into office.
Other areas included how they intend to tackle unemployment and insecurity, improve the state economy, education sector, avert electoral violence, and their position on the N30, 000 minimum wages.