When the presidential debate was held in Abuja this past week just ahead of the elections, one of the candidates was missing.

We would have taken the bullet of any forum, any platform to sell our candidate and our party. But then they were not ready to walk into a booby trap because we saw those who were organising this debate as crassly partisan...

Lai Mohammed, Buhari Campaign

Typically, when that happens, it is the incumbent's chair that is empty, because if you are in power a poor debate performance can cost you your job - so incumbents tend to want to limit their exposure.

But that is not what happened in Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan was there - it was his main rival Muhammadu Buhari, refusing to take part. The debate was going out on one of the Nigeria's most watched TV channels - Africa Independent Television, AIT -. 

Buhari's All Progressive Party (APC) has accused the channel of blatant partisanship, of being in President Jonathan's corner. So Buhari boycotted the debate. This election was supposed to happen on February 14 but was postponed by the government, ostensibly to secure the northeast from Boko Haram and guarantee the safety of voters - although that rationale has been subject to debate as well.

For journalists the delay has meant another six weeks of trying to get around government censorship and pressure from other political parties on stories about corruption and security - not to mention the dangers inherent in trying to cover the Boko Haram angle.

And in the run-up to voting day, there is been a backlog of visas for the foreign press, an indication that, as far as the Jonathan government is concerned, the fewer journalists in there covering this election, the better.

Our starting point this week is Abuja, the capital of Africa's most populous country.

Source: Al Jazeera