Governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore and Alhaji Fatai Akinbade respectively on Saturday shunned a radio debate organised for them and Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
The debate which was organised by a United States of America-based International Republican Institute was billed to be broadcast live on Osun State Broadcasting Corporation Osogbo on Saturday.
Aregbesola, who was said to have gone to Mecca for the lesser hajj was said to have cut short his trip and returned to honour the debate but his co-debaters failed to show up.
The Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, in a statement said Omisore ran away from the debate.
The statement read, “ The PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in the August 9 election in Osun, Iyiola Omisore, squandered a golden opportunity to confront the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in a public radio debate when he ran away from participating.
“The debate was sponsored by the American-based International Republican Institute and put together by the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation for a live transmission in Osogbo. Saturday.
“Osun citizens had waited with bated breath to hear Omisore articulate his accusations against the governor on such issues as the debt profile of the state, the school reform programme and the vexed issue of capital flight.
“But it turned out to be almost an interview and not a debate because Omisore ran away.
“However, Aregbesola advanced his arguments virtually without challenge that the best thing to have happened in Osun since it was created are his programmes which the PDP wants to destroy.”
Omisore had earlier said that he was ready for a debate with Aregbesola but he expressed the fear that the governor might physically assault him.
The media aide of the LP candidate, Mr. Kayode Oladeji, when contacted said that his principal did not shun the debate because he sent his running mate to represent him at the debate.
Oladeji said the LP candidate had a very urgent and equally important assignment he was attending to hence the decision to send his running mate.
He said, “Alhaji Akinbade still sent his running mate, Mr. Michael Adenipekun,to go and represent him.
“He got there but they said that they would not accept any representative so, it is not right to say Akinbade shunned the debate, you cannot divorce the office of the governor from the deputy cause they are running on a joint ticket.”
Omisore had earlier said he was ready for a debate with Aregbesola but he expressed the fear that the governor might physically assault him.
Omisore said, “How can I be afraid of engaging him in a debate? But when argument is being drawn between two unequal parties, the weaker of the two may result to physical assault and harassment. We don’t want this to happen.
“Aregbesola has not hidden the fact that he has personal hatred for me and people tell me all sorts of lies he fabricates to disparage me. You don’t expect more than that from a barely literate politician like him.
You remember that Aregbesola presented O’level to INEC. So we need an assurance that Ogbeni will not resort to physical assault if he is confronted with hard facts with evidence.
“ Once we are assured that decorum would be allowed and that our safety is guaranteed, I am ready for the debate.”
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