A former Nigerian military ruler told VOA the failure of the country’s material and physical security could go a long way to undermine the stability of the populous West African nation.
Retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the presidential candidate for Nigeria’s main opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said Nigerians should hold incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan to his promise of ensuring a free and fair democratic election in April’s vote.
“What we are asking for is for (a) free and fair election. Mr. President (Jonathan) promised when he went there, to the United States, he promised the president of the United States that one of his top priorities is to conduct free and fair elections in Nigeria, and we are holding him to that.”
Analyst say, despite a potential stiff challenge from the opposition, President Jonathan will win the presidential vote. Former General Buhari disagrees.
“Certainly, we can defeat the PDP. We are developing a coalition of the opposition parties to agree to go against the ruling party. What I said is that our problem is (a) free and fair election,” he said.
“If the law enforcement agencies, the police, the state security agencies and, very importantly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, that is INEC, conducted themselves according to the Electoral Act 2010, then there is no doubt the PDP will be defeated. We all know that,” added retired General Buhari.
Last Friday, Mr. Jonathan won the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nomination after defeating former Vice President Atiku Abubakar with at least two-thirds of the total vote cast to lead the party in the April election.
Retired General Buhari, who ruled Nigeria from 1983 to 1984 under a military government, was unanimously confirmed by popular acclamation as the presidential candidate for the opposition CPC at their recent national convention.
This is Buhari’s third attempt to win the presidential election. He was defeated twice by Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and 2007.
The former military ruler said security of the nation should be paramount.
“The problem in Nigeria now is security. There is no physical security and, then, (there is) the problem of material security. There is so much corruption and indiscipline and, then, there is lack of employment because there is no infrastructure. There is no power, in spite of the money spent, and no good roads. And, there is no portable water in all the cities of the country, in spite of what the country realized in the last 12 years,” said retired General Buhari.
He also said that he stands a better chance to defeat President Jonathan in the upcoming vote.
Nigeria will hold elections for president, parliament, and state level races in April.