Overview of the workshop:
Nigeria’s transition to democracy is wrought with difficulties characterized by a slow pace of governance reform, low level of civic engagement while ethnic and religious violence is on the ascendance. Political space is dominated by the power seekers who often resort to violence in order to secure political and financial gains. Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and the respect of human dignity. It is also one of the most dangerous rights, because freedom of expression means the freedom to express one's discontent with the status quo and the desire to change it. As such, it is one of the most threatened rights, with governments - and even human rights groups - all over the world constantly trying to curtail it.
Even in the most stable democracies, public political discourse in the age of ours has not been so easy. It has been rough and tumble and sometimes it presents a potential life-and-death issue. Not so in the case of many newly-emerging democracies, many in transition from generations of one-party politics, military rule , or tribal or ethnic dominance that sideline or shout out many citizens from political participation. In some, only the outward manifestations have changed: incumbents still routinely deny or impede political opponents' access to the media or use the security apparatus to stifle dissenting views. While those who make the choice to support winners can expect to be rewarded, those who dare to support the (inevitably) losing side(s) are all too often punished by being denied access to public programs and benefits .
One avenue to engage all stakeholders in political discourse is the encouragement of would-be officeholders to enunciate and defend their platforms through participation in political debates, at both the local and national levels. The premise is that the electorate has both the right and responsibility to choose its public stewards on the basis of information on the policies and plans of contenders in an environment free of perceived (or real) intimidation.
Political debates, properly conducted, facilitate the examination of issues that are of interest to an electorate. Unlike political rallies, debates constitute a convenient platform for candidates to address issues so that viewers and listeners are able to compare positions. Similarly, properly managed debates provide less room for candidates to distort their opponents' positions as misrepresentations can be challenged on the spot.
To increase the knowledge and participation of Nigerian voters by facilitating the development, organization and management of election debates between leaders of parties likely to gain representation at the upcoming Nigerian election (2011); and to create such as positive and valuable experience for voters and stakeholders to ensure that election debates becomes a permanent feature of Nigerian elections.
This workshop was designed by Election Debates; an international panel of debate experts who provide analysis and commentary on election debates. Founded in 2008 by Ray D’Cruz, author of the World Debating Rules. They have covered US (Presidential &Vice Presidential Debates, Canadian, NZ, UK and Australian Leaders’ Debates.
This workshop is free to all invited participants, thanks to the support from Commonwealth Foundation. All event local logistics including feeding are covered.
Please your confirmation for this event is highly needed so as to forward to you the workshop programmes and prepare your event badge and packs. It is first come, first serve and the slots are not much and therefore highly competitive with few remaining to go. Other details would be forwarded to you once we know that you’ve sent back the workshop application form.