It is no longer news that presidential candidates in the February 25th election were at different times in Chatham House, United Kingdom, to campaign and tell the electorates what they intend to do for Nigerians if eventually elected.
Chatham House in London, is a policy think tank established by the British Institute of International Affairs, which for more than a century has served as a forum for the exchange of ideas and open expression, research and knowledge. It is also known as the Royal Institute for International Affairs and has hosted President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was there on 5th December 2022. Similarly, Mr. Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) was at the Chatham House to market himself.
Although the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has not yet been invited to Chatham House, despite being there in 2018 in a build up to the 2019 presidential election.
Speaking during a presidential parley with the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adebayo Adewole, the director general of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Prof. Ayo Omotayo urged political parties’ presidential candidates to use the opportunity provided by the institute to sell themselves to the electorate in Nigeria, instead of going to Chatham House for political discourse concerning their aspirations.
According to him, the National Institute, the nation’s think tank is capable of coordinating such debates, to sell and expose the candidates and their parties’ manifestos to the electorate
“We are not condemning going to Chatham House in London, but the votes they need to be declared winners are here in Nigeria; the people that will vote for them are here. They could leverage NIPSS to popularise themselves.”
He explained that the National Institute has been doing similar things and has on various occasions brought political party leaders to the institute through a Centre for Political Parties for interactions and discourse on how to entrench democratic values and advance democracy in the country.
Prof. Omotayo said he has been inundated with several calls in recent times on the need for NIPSS to be the Chatham House of Nigeria, by organising a debate for the presidential candidates, adding that the National Institute can do it.
“The national institute is making efforts to reach out to the presidential candidates, especially the big four, to come to NIPSS and talk to Nigerians before the presidential election.
“Going to Chatham House to talk to those who will not vote is wrong; NIPSS is a better venue for this exercise to propagate your ideas and manifesto.”
The National Institute was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979. It was conceived as a high-level institution with the primary objectives of serving as the nation’s foremost policy think-tank.