By Queenesther Iroanusi
Majority of Nigerians who partook in a PREMIUM TIMES’ opinion poll picked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as the best candidate during the December 14 vice presidential candidates debate.
He was one of the five politicians available as options for participants in the poll.
Mr Osinbajo, who represented the All Progressives Congress (APC) and four other candidates, slugged it out at the debates organised ahead of the 2019 general elections at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
The candidates were selected by the presidential election debates group and a group of broadcast stations affiliated to the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
They included vice presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Ganiyu Galadima; Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi and the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Umma Getso.
Although all five candidates marshalled their points during the debate, candidates of the two major parties – APC and PDP – attracted the most attention Friday night.
Mr Osinbajo participated in the debate as the running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari, while Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of Atiku Abubakar, represented the PDP.
A total of 37,217 readers participated in the online poll which lasted for about two weeks. The poll was implemented in a way that made it impossible for a respondent to vote more than once from the same computer or mobile device.
The participants were asked a single question: “Did you watch the Vice-presidential candidates debate, who was your best VP candidate?”
About 41.1 per cent of the participants (15,310 voters) picked Mr Osinbajo as their best VP candidate.
The vice president was closely followed by Mr Obi, with 32.4 per cent (12,056 participants) choosing him as their best candidate.
The YPP’s VP candidate, Umma Getso, was the voters’ third choice with 22.3 per cent (8,289 voters) saying she was their best candidate.
Of the five candidates that participated in the debate, the candidates for ANN (Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya) and ACPN (Ganiyu Galadima), were the least voted for as only 2.6 per cent (985) and 1.6 per cent (577) of the respondents chose them respectively.
Lively Debate, Controversial Claims
Although participants in the poll were not asked to state the reasons for their stance, the candidates that participated in the debate had responded diversely to questions on the economy, electricity supply, job creation, health, education policy, national security, amongst others, with factual claims.
They also used the debate as a platform to reveal the plans of their party.
Mr Obi said the anti-corruption war of the present government was not adding value to the nation’s economy.
“Fighting corruption is not an economic policy. It is not that you can’t fight corruption, but you can fight it more aggressively while addressing economic issues,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo said, “Corruption is the major cause of the country’s current challenges, which must be tackled head-on.”
While acknowledging issues of poverty in the county, he said the administration’s social investment programmes were put in place to address poverty in the country and that they invested heavily in power distribution, to address the problem of electricity in the country.
Mrs Getso said the girl-child education and women empowerment was her party’s priority. She also emphasised that subsidy in petroleum products was a scam and should be removed completely.
Mrs Abdullahi-Iya of the ANN said her party, if voted into office, would ensure transparency and tackle unemployment.
Mr Galadima of ACPN said his party would work with technocrats to develop the country’s economy and make her the envy of other nations.
Although some of the claims made by the candidates were untrue, a PREMIUM TIMES fact check revealed, the APC and PDP candidates, however, stood out during the debate.
While some Nigerians who also reacted to the debate on social media, preferred Mr Obi’s presentation and arguments, others believed that Mr Osinbajo performed better.
The presidential debate is scheduled to hold on January 19 at the same venue.
Although it is not clear whether all candidates have indicated interest in participating, the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has expressed eagerness to debate other candidates especially the incumbent President Buhari.