A bill to make it mandatory for those seeking for elective positions to participate in pre-election debates has passed through second reading in the Senate.
The bill which was presented by Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari (APC- Oyo North) has been referred to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service as well as Committee on INEC.
The bill is entitled: “Nigerian Political Debates Commission Bill, 2015.”
If passed, those seeking election as president, governor, lawmakers and other elective positions, including their running mates, would have to go through a debate which would be organised by a proposed commission.
Presenting the lead debate, Buhari said that the bill would give legislative backing to the establishment of a commission that would be charged with organising the debate.
“The bill, if considered and passed by this hallowed chamber, will strengthen our democracy and bring it in conformity with the practice in other renowned democracies of the world,” he said.
He said that the United States was a good example where debates were properly used to reach out to the electorate.
The senator said that political parties and aspirants were already accustomed to the debates which had now become mandatory since it began in 1960 between then Democratic nominee John Kennedy and his Republican rival, Richard Nixon.
He urged his colleagues to support the bill for passage.
“The debate is the de facto election process in the United States as results of elections are predicated on the candidates’ performance at the debates.
“An analogous experience of this crucial indispensability of electoral debate is the current presidential debate between Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party and Donald Trump of the Republican Party”, he added.