On November 6, 2022, Nigerians were given another opportunity to scrutinise the presidential candidates. This time, at a town hall hosted by Arise TV in Abuja.
It’s no news that your usual suspect (read: BAT) and Atiku Abubakar did not show up but four major parties were represented in varying capacities — Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP). Kola Abiola, the presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP), and Ifeanyi Okowa, vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
If you are looking at the trends on Twitter and wondering what you missed, we’ve got you covered.
The BAT ghosts again
In a country where almost nothing is predictable, like what value the naira will trade against the dollar tomorrow, or what country Buhari will zoom to next, you can be sure of one incontestable truth — Bola Tinubu, aka BAT, will not turn up for a presidential debate.
And so like clockwork, the BAT was absent. It would have been bearable — even if not tenable — if the BAT was far away from the debate venue, like at his favourite London abode, or in his bullion home of Bourdillon.
However, the BAT was in Abuja — the same city where the town hall was held. And while his mates were busy talking to Nigerians about their plans for the country, the BAT had more pressing matters to deal with — like the latest owambe in town.
Later, his campaign team released a statement explaining why he couldn’t attend. We could explain the silliness of it, but it’s better to just show you.
BAT doesn’t send you and he wants you to know it. His campaign team has already announced he will be your president whether you like it or not. Over to you, Nigerians.
The rock is no longer playing with you
Depending on who you ask, Obi’s (aka The Rock) performance was either meh, or excellent.
But that’s by the way. While Obi touched on different matters ranging from the economy to security, the most interesting soundbite came off the cuff. At different points during the town hall meeting, Obi was posed questions from Dino Melaye, spokesperson of the PDP.
But it appeared Dino the skitmaker eventually took his antics too far, prompting Obi to say “enough”.
Obi often projects a calm mien, so to see him so visibly annoyed suggests that Dino rattled him. His supporters say he handled it well. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Okowa got a rough reception
The early videos that came out at the start of the town hall meeting showed Okowa getting some tough love. The crowd present was pissed that his principal, Atiku Abubakar, failed to turn up for what was billed as a “presidential debate”.
Okowa would later explain that it had been relayed to Arise TV ahead of schedule that the PDP would be sending a representative in Atiku’s stead. He said they didn’t object to it. Well, despite the initial gra gra, the show went on.
Okowa didn’t seem shy to take on issues, sharing ideas on how to deal with stuff like insecurity. Besides defending the PDP’s legacy in government, he took a swipe at Kwankwaso, a former member of the PDP, and Obi who until May was a member of the PDP and the former running mate of Atiku in 2019.
And he didn’t stop there. He fired more shots at Obi for prioritising saving when the economy was dire.
It would have been smooth sailing for Okowa except that around the same time he was throwing punches offline, another story on him was doing the rounds online. Talk about timing.
Kwankwaso won a lot of fans
If anyone came out ahead, it was probably Kwankwaso. Most commentaries from across political divides seemed to suggest he handled himself well.
And despite Okowa carpeting him for being a former PDP member, he kind of held his own.
Kwankwaso threw his own shots.
While speaking in support of Okowa over the absence of his principal, he disclosed that it was at least better to have someone turn up instead of one other candidate that didn’t send anyone at all. Ouch.
But it was not all rosy. He claimed that he left no debt when he left his office. Maybe he didn’t think the fact-checkers would go and verify. But they did, and came back with their final verdict.
Kola Abiola was a mixed bag
To be fair, we loved his outfit. The blue senator and that red fila probably made him the best dressed of the four candidates.
Still, he was the least popular of the mix.
Abiola spoke eloquently. Unlike other candidates, he noted that Nigeria already had adequate security infrastructure but it just failed in addressing gaps in manpower training. He also spoke on the economy, making the case for a market-driven one.
Yet, not everyone was pleased with his performance.
And like Kwankwaso, he also got a spanking from the fact-checkers.