15 presidential candidates accuse LCCI of bias over non-invitation to parley
There is a wave of discontent sweeping through political circles as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) hosts the 2022 edition of its private sector economic forum ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.
In furtherance of its mandate to always provide a platform for public office seekers to present their plans for private sector development in Nigeria, the LCCI once again decided to host the 2022 edition, which got underway on September 13 at its corporate headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos.
But what now seems to be causing displeasure is the decision of the LCCI to invite only three out of the 18 presidential aspirants vying for the position of Nigeria’s president in next year’s elections.
The LCCI appeared to have irked other contestants by inviting only the trio of Abubukar Atiku (PDP), Peter Obi (Labour Party), and Bola Tinubu (APC) to the event where they would be given opportunities to articulate and sell their economic agenda to the private sector, using its platform.
Chinyere Almona, the LCCI director-general, had in a statement issued last Wednesday, said, “Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, at 9.30 a.m; Peter Obi, the LP candidate, is slated for Wednesday, September, 14, at 9.30 a.m, and Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, will come October 28, at 9.30 a.m.”
Atiku was at the LCCI on Tuesday but Obi has since rescheduled for a yet-to-be decided date, while Tinubu says he won’t be available until October 28.
Almona had in the statement that the LCCI was a non-partisan private sector operator which was, however, interested in the economic agenda of the candidates and their plans to make Nigeria better.
The absence of other presidential candidates aside from Atiku, Obi, and Tinubu has, however, cast aspersions on the non-partisanship of the LCCI regarding the event, which will be streamed on all LCCI social media platforms, and provides an opportunity for participants to ask questions of the presidential candidates on their manifestoes.
As a result, the other 15 candidates from the ACCORD, AA, ADP, APGA, APM, AAC, APP, ADC, BP, NNPP, NRM, PRP, SDP, YPP, and ZLP have expressed concerns over the neglect, saying it portends a grave danger for Nigeria’s political future as LCCI has demonstrated that it is partisan, despite claims to the contrary.
Spokespersons for the other parties are aggrieved that a forum of such importance that had consistently hosted the series successfully in the last 16 years – spanning four political transitions in the country – could yield to the temptation of handpicking only three of the 18 contestants that had applied for the job of Nigeria’s president to present papers at the event.
“We have always seen the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) as an apolitical organisation that is only interested in furthering the overall economic aspirations of Nigeria through its policies,” a spokesperson for one of the parties said.
“We are aware of how they have used their platform to expose candidates vying for top elective positions in the country, and how it has helped in shaping public opinion on the eve of important elections in Nigeria.
“That is why we find it difficult to comprehend why the LCCI would, on this occasion, deviate from the standards they have set in times past and decide to be partisan this time around.
“Otherwise, why would they decide to narrow the list of invitees to present their economic blueprint for Nigeria in this particular edition of the forum?
“By this summary exclusion of the other aspirants, the LCCI not only demonstrated its disdain for an all-inclusive, vibrant economic discourse, they have unwittingly denied Nigerians the opportunity to see other candidates, and assess them ahead of the all-important 2023 elections,” the spokesman further said.