The African Action Congress (AAC), one of the political parties in Nigeria, has protested its exclusion from the planned presidential debate for the 2019 election.
Omoyele Sowore, a fiery anti-corruption crusader and the publisher of Sahara Reporters, is the presidential candidate of the AAC.
The debate is organised by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).
The vice presidential debate will hold from 7 p.m. on December 14 at the congress hall of the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, while the presidential debate will hold on January 19, 2019, according to the statement issued on Tuesday by the Executive Secretary of the NEDG, Eddi Emesiri.
While there are 68 political parties in Nigeria, the statement said only five parties would participate in the debate.
The parties are Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).
The group did not give reasons for excluding other parties.
The AAC is, however, demanding to know why they and other parties were excluded from the debate.
"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," Malcolm Fabiyi, director-general of the TakeItBack 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 parties in the online poll that was organised by Channels TV to determine the participants in the presidential debates. We demand that the unaltered results of that poll be published," Mr 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 on December 14. Nigerians must not be cheated out of a robust debate about our nation's future. Nigeria must progress," he said.
The AAC presidential candidate, Mr Sowore, said the presidential candidates of the other political parties 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!" Mr Sowore said on Twitter in the early hours of Wednesday, using his personal Twitter handle @YeleSowore.