Given to the current state of the country Nigeria, I think its of great importance for debates to be conducted among candidates running for political offices. Candidate debates is a vital part of democratic process as they help voters learn more about a candidate and their stance on key issues.

I strongly believe that the reason why some countries are able to develop quickly and others like ours still lagging behind, is due to the difference in the efficiency of the administration and the quality of the people. These candidates are asking for a shot at the job of representing us. The decision they make in office can influence public policies for years to come and guess what? Everyone of us can easily ascertain who gets these jobs by evaluating their arguments in competition with other candidates.

What we have now in the nation are rallies organized by aspirants or political parties for their hopefuls. But over the years, these rallies are no longer serving their primary purpose as they are now scene for political jamborees with little or nothing been communicated at the rally venues. Also, rallies are now party affairs and non-party members who attends, especially those from the opposition parties are not treated kindly for coming around. And I ask myself where are all these leading us to???

The most powerful words Abraham Lincoln said about democracy came as the rousing conclusion to his November 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address: ” that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth”. If we pride ourselves as practitioners of democracy and there can be only one definition for the term ‘democracy’, why then in this country democracy appears differently and very weak?? I suggest that for democracy to survive and thrive in the country, certain measures are to be adopted to carry the people along, and among many includes the ‘Televised Candidates Debate’.

The ostensible purpose of an election campaign debate is to give candidates a chance to share their views and attract possible voters. Political debates have a long tradition: In 1858, Abraham Lincoln challenged senator Stephen Douglas for his seat in a series of seven debates in Illinois. One candidate would open with a 60 minute speech and the other would have a 90 minutes response. The first candidate would then close the debate with yet another 30 minute speech. Although Mr Lincoln went on to lose the Senate race, the debates elevated his national statue and set him up for a successful presidential run against Mr Douglas two years later.

In the book “The Timeline Of Presidential Elections” by political scientists, Robert Eriksson and Christopher Wlezien, looked at every American election featuring televised debates between 1960 and 2008 and found that the polling numbers of presidential candidates leading up to debates were almost perfectly connected with their polling numbers shortly afterwards.

Televised Candidates Debate will help voters cut through the noise and get the facts by hearing firsthand about a candidates views and plans.. One would never hire someone for a position without interviewing them first, right? Candidate debate let’s the people do just that. It provides the people with the opportunity to ask the hard questions. And if a candidate decides not to attend a debate, its the voters that are harmed. We have the right to have our voices represented in the government, and candidate debates helps us ask the questions to determine the candidate that best reflects our concerns and values.

I believe our democracy can only thrive when all of us are engaged. When debates are watched and discussed by the people, it will help foster important dialogue about the issues that affects our lives. With so many seats up for grabs in this coming general elections, the people we elect come 2019 will make decisions that will affect issues like the economy, education, security, healthcare and many more.

Lastly, I think that candidates debate would introduce us to the concept of ‘meritocracy’, a social system founded on the belief that rulers should be chosen based on abilities rather than wealth, race, religion or family tree. Leaders are chosen because they are the smartest and have best judgment. They can come from the poorest, most humble background just as long as they are the most noble and fit to rule.

This is a call to the people, the media, and the government especially, to consider this Televised Candidate Debate in the quest for the survivor of democracy in the country hence making our nation a great one.

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Okoli Chibuike