**Threatens to boycott debates with their surrogates henceforth
The Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation has condemned the disdain for the electorate and the people, by some absentee Presidential Candidates during the Presidential Town Hall Series organised by Arise TV at the weekend.
It vowed that its Presidential candidate will never appear at such debates where other Presidential candidates will stay away only to send their surrogates again.
Speaking during a press conference at the party’s campaign secretariat in Abuja on Monday, the Director General of LP Presidential Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe, said the debate was scheduled to hold among Presidential candidates not with their surrogates
“I have called you this afternoon to speak on a growing trend of irresponsibility, arrogance and disregard for the electorate, which has now gone beyond coincidence, and is at risk of becoming the norm.
“On Monday 22nd August 2022 the Nigerian Bar Association invited the leading Presidential candidates to address her Annual Bar Conference and the Nigerian people at this epic occasion, the Presidential Candidate of the APC sent his Vice Presidential candidate to represent him.
“Again, on Tuesday and Wednesday September 13th and 14th 2022, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited the major Presidential Candidates to interact with them and the Nigerian people, on their economic and general policy initiatives as a prelude to the presidential elections.
“While His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi, and other invited candidates appeared in person, the presidential candidate of the APC sent his Vice Presidential candidate, to represent him .
“Once Again, Yesterday the 6th November 2022 , at the First AriseTV Town Hall Meeting, in contradiction to the understanding reached with the organisers, about allowing only presidential candidates to attend the event, the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP was allowed to represent his Presidential candidate.
“This sparked a protest and rowdy situation by supporters of the other Presidential candidates present.”
He said it was the firm conviction of the party that anything short of the simple, transparent and honest adherence to this basic contract of responsibility, falls short of the standards of fair contest and engagement and could only be interpreted as mischievous evasion of the desired interface with the people.
“The decision to present oneself as a Presidential candidate, does not start and end with the purchase , submission of forms and certification as a candidate by INEC.
“It also forebodes on the candidate a high degree of responsibility to present himself for open discussions and explanations on his policies , visions and plans for the people to enable a better understanding and engender an appropriate choice by the electorate in the coming elections.
He said the campaign organisation find totally reprehensible and inconceivable why any Presidential Candidate for these elections should think that they are doing the voting public and indeed all Nigerians a favour, by appearing in person, at these scheduled programs which are a fundamental part of the election season and process.
“These candidates who have assumed the position of emperors and rulers, and not responsible politicians, who are willing to serve and listen to the people, place their position of trust in critical jeopardy by their high horse of arrogance and non accountability.
“For the avoidance of doubt, His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi is prepared at any appointed time, to engage the Nigerian people on his mission and vision for the people and country whom he seeks to lead competently and responsibly.
“It is an established fact, beyond contradiction that Mr Peter Obi is currently the leading candidate in this presidential race , and yet he does not display the baseless and arrogant disposition of some of his co- candidates.”
“To add insult to injury , yesterday at the Arise Tv Townhall Meeting ,the Vice Presidential candidate who purported to represent his Presidential Candidate, sought to explain his presence under the obnoxious pretext that the ‘Presidency is one’
“This is a blatant lie and to say the least a deceptive attempt to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians .
According to Okupe, the Joint Ticket in a presidential election, and in a substantive Presidency, is a constitutional provision for temporary or permanent substitution, where the Presidential candidate is primarily incapacitated or otherwise critically unavailable.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the onus and the duty of presenting his position, vision, policies and plans and responding to questions therefrom, is the responsibility of the presidential candidate, in first person, including the fact of being held accountable for his presentation.
“This primary duty of care and response cannot be relegated, delegated or avoided, as a matter of deception or evasion, as it encompasses the right of the people to full and total knowledge of what the candidate has in stock for them.”
Okupe said their presidential candidates would only be prepared in this election season to mount “the podium with their peers and not with any surrogates or diversionary delegated representation.
His words: “Let us make it clear today, that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation.
“We are the ones calling for the change of the system, we cannot participate in the subversion of the system. That will be a total contradiction of our promise to create a new Nigeria. If anybody want to organise a debate and want to base it on deceit, we will not be part of it. Whatever you say and we all agree we will keep to it and we will stand by it.
“It is important that those who want to rule us tell us what they want to do. You can’t sit down in one place, give money to those who will go out for you and say yes he’s our man.
“In some places, they will say Ah, don’t worry you have already won. We have gone beyond that and people must ask questions and the candidates must be accountable. This is how societies grow, this is how societies improve.”