I vote Yes, and the National Assembly should make at least two pre-election debates to be part of our (national) democracy in Nigeria. Sure, many will argue that debates do not make you a better leader. Respectfully, I think they are wrong.
As a Library Prefect in secondary school, part of my job was to coordinate debates from JS1 to SS3. I learnt quickly that to help moderate or participate or manage, mastering the debate topic was crucial. And the participants were expected to prepare. Magically, we realized that being asked to debate was one way of pushing students to study things they would not have.
Both did not debate during the last election
If you ask Nigerian politicians to debate, they would be forced to spend time to understand the issues they would deal with before they are elected into the jobs. Yes, on Day 1, they know the issues, instead of wasting months trying to understand the state of the nation. Simply, debates would have “prepared” them, forcing them to seek the right data and insights.
There is one reason why an American or UK leader would have the cabinet ready within days of being elected: as part of preparing for debates, the person has been forced to seek insights from experts. So, before they are elected, they know the best in the land. Yes, they know the person who knows, and by having known all the experts, forming a cabinet becomes easier.
Nigeria needs presidential debates and we need those with the fierce urgency of now.
It is very shameful, repugnant and extremely unfortunate that Nigeria is yet to grow into a nation where leaders prepare into positions.
Debates matter – they matter. They push you to say “Who knows this area best, get him/her here”. By the time you have done that 3-5 times, you will have your cabinet ready to lead a day after election.
Mr. Mike Ini, you always impress: push this forward for the nation.
PT: You have been calling for the institutionalisation of debates at all levels, for all candidates in our electoral system, what are the prospects?
Igini: In the leadership or executive recruitment process, debates on key policy issues allows the aspirants to present their private and public records for public scrutiny. If made compulsory as the practice in some countries, then those who aspire to public office will know that competence, performance, and character are very important matters of public interest when seeking elective office.