Only five presidential candidates have been invited to take part in the debate being organised by theNigerian Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeriaahead of the 2019 general elections.

The Executive Secretary of NEDG, Edidi Emesiri, disclosed the names of the candidates in a statement onTuesday where he listed them to include those of the Allied Congress Party ofNigeria, Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye; AllProgressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari; Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and Young Progressives Party, Kingsley Moghalu.

The statement read, “The Nigeria Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, after its meeting today (Tuesday) in Abuja, have released the names of parties that will be participating in the 2019 vice presidential and presidential debates.

“The parties in alphabetical order are: ACPN, ANN, APC, PDP and YPP.

“The Vice Presidential debate will hold from 7pm at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Friday the 14th of December 2018, while the presidential debate will hold at the same venue on Saturday January 19, 2019.

“The debates will be transmitted live on all BON member stations and its affiliates, as well as live streaming on all social media platforms.”

The criteria used in picking the candidates to take part in the debate were not, however, revealed in thestatement.

Meanwhile, the African Action Congress (AAC), one of the political parties excluded from the debate, has protested its exclusion from the planned presidential debate for the 2019 election.

Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, is the presidential candidate of the AAC.

“We demand that NEDG and BON publicly declare the criteria that were used for selecting the participants. Any debate about Nigeria’s future and the 2019 elections that does not include the AAC is a farce. Nigerians cannot be fooled,” MalcolmFabiyi, director-general of the Take ItBack Movement/Sowore 2019 Campaign, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“The AAC is one of the three largest parties in Nigeria. In fact, we were within the top three partiesin the online poll that was organised by Channels TV to determine theparticipants in the presidential debates. We demand that the unaltered resultsof that poll be published,” Fabiyi said.

“It is unconscionable that our candidates will be left out of the VP and Presidential debates when smaller political parties that fared worse in the polls, and do not have the reach or strength that our party commands across the country, were included.

“We also note that our presidential candidate has won every major independent and objective poll against the candidates from the alternative parties. Yet somehow, those parties made it to the debates while our candidates did not.

“We expect that this grave injustice will be rectified immediately, ahead of the VP debates onDecember 14. Nigerians must not be cheated out of a robust debate about ournation’s future. Nigeria must progress,” he said.

The AAC presidential candidate, Sowore, said the other presidential candidates were afraid to have him a debate with them.

“They can’t stand the revolutionary spirit of a youthful fearless Nigerian sharing the podium with old cargoes to debate Nigeria’s future!” Sowore said.