The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has charged the National Assembly to make participation in presidential and governorship debates mandatory.

A statement by Secretary-General Willy Ezugwu said a law to that effect would strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process.

CNPP wondered why some standard bearers deliberately refused to attend debates or were excluded by the organisers.

The coalition believes legalizing dialogues with standard bearers in attendance will help citizens make informed decisions.

CNPP said in advanced democracies like the United States, debates are considered an intrinsic part of the electoral process.

Ezugwu noted that no serious contender in the American presidential race could afford to stay away.

“There is a need to make governorship and presidential debates in Nigeria mandatory for all candidates and their parties.

“Debates should be a veritable platform for the public to screen persons seeking to represent them in government.”

The statement urged the National Assembly to immediately set up modalities to make its demand customary.

CNPP suggested a law for the establishment of a National Commission on Election Debates (CED) with a mandate to arrange discourses.

The commission, it added, should be empowered to sanction candidates that fail to participate and also impose penalties.

The 2023 campaign season is in full swing ahead of the general polls in February and March.

Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP); Rabiu Kwankwaso, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) are the top presidential candidates.