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OAN, 15 other diaspora associations hold debate for presidential candidates Feb. 11

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By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Feb. 1, 2023

The Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN, Inc.), in collaboration with 15 other Nigerian organisations in the United States, has expressed readiness to still hold debate for presidential candidates before the Feb. 25 elections.

The “Diaspora Listens” presidential debate, earlier scheduled for Nov. 22, 2022, was postponed due to failure to get written commitment from the major presential candidates.

The candidates are Bola Ahmed Tinubu for APC; Atiku Abubakar, PDP; Peter Obi, Labour Party; Kola Abiola, PRP; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, NNPP, and Hamza Al-Mustapha, the presidential candidate of the Action Alliance.

Mr. Olayinka DanSalami, the Chairman, Board of OAN, in a statement signed on behalf of the organisations, stated that Nigerians in the diaspora demand the candidates to unveil their policy thrust to the citizens.

“OAN and other leaders of the various Nigerian organisations in the U.S. held a meeting on January 14, 2023, and it was decided that Nigerians in the diaspora should continue their demand to hold a presidential debate.

“They should demand to hold a presidential debate for candidates who are contesting in the February 25 Nigerian presidential election because of the high importance of the election.

“Nigeria is at a crossroad and the next President must be fully prepared to lead Nigeria and Nigerians out of the economic and security woes that have befallen our dear motherland.

“The new date for the virtual debate is Saturday, February 11 at 8:00pm (Nigeria Time),’’ DanSalami said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York.

He recalled that OAN and other organisations had in August 2022 extended letters of invitation to six presidential candidates for a debate slated for November 22, 2022, so that they could unveil their policy thrusts to Nigerians in the diaspora.

“One of the main reasons why we are still willing to hold this debate is because the 2023 presidential election is a consequential election that would determine the fate of over 200 million people, and impact on the African continent and the Black race.

“This is besides the fact that Nigerians in the diaspora send billions of dollars back home annually, they also have significant influence on their friends and relatives in Nigeria.

“Indeed, some of the diasporans have taken the pains to travel home to register and would be traveling home to vote at the general election.

“Therefore, how each candidate intends to maximise the various opportunities that abound in Nigeria and the key roles that Nigerians in the diaspora would have to play towards national development in their administration are of utmost importance to us,’’ he said.

In addition, he said Nigerians in the diaspora would get firsthand information about each candidate’s plans and preparedness to lead our dear country out of the current economic doldrums and insecurity, into unity, peace, security and prosperity.

“We hope that each of the candidates will respond to our clarion call to this debate no later than Friday, February 3, 2023, to allow us sufficient time to put together logistics that will make the debate successful.

“However, if we do not receive the necessary response by the above date, it would be incumbent upon us to endorse a candidate deemed to be in the best interest of Nigeria, after careful consultations with relevant Nigerian diaspora stakeholders.

“This position is borne out of our patriotic aspirations and support to strengthen democracy and good governance in our dear Motherland, Nigeria.

“We believe that the Nigeria of our dream is possible, and everyone must contribute his or her own quota to actualise a new Nigeria. The revolution is upon us,’’ he said.

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