Presidential candidates in Nigerian's poll begin a series of debates Monday in what analysts say may give the public the first opportunity to judge the political parties’ platforms. This as a new opinion poll finds that regular electric power supply and jobs are the top issues of most voters.
Godwin Onu is senior lecturer of political science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in the southeastern city of Awka. He says the debates are very important in a democratic government. “I think it is a new development and they seem to be taking a cue from the kinds of things that happen in America. It I s new development and I think it portends a signal for democracy to progress,” he says.
He says the debates may be the only opportunity for most voters to actually assess the candidates. “The average Nigerian does not know more than what a particular candidate wants to say because we do not know many of them and what they are capable of doing. Most of their history is hidden and people do not know their records,” he says.
Onu says the ruling party’s candidate Umar Musa Yar’Adua and former military head of state Gen. Muhammadu Buhari will be the focus for most viewers. “Yar’Adua is not known to many Nigerians and Buhari a former head of state is known more than Yar’Auda. Yar’Adua would have been considered a better candidate if not that he is being paraded about the incumbent president”.