Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar says the current security situation in the country is “appalling.” He also accused the government in Abuja of lacking the political will to address the violence carried out by Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
Abubakar said there is need to restore law and order and protect unarmed civilians who he says have often been victims of terror attacks carried out by the Islamist militants.
He said the growing insecurity has undermined the country’s economy and has negatively impacted Nigeria’s reputation in the international community.
“The security situation in the country, I must admit is appalling. I have never seen it this bad - not even during the civil war did we have this sense of insecurity all over the country,” said Abubakar.
He outlined steps that he said could be implemented immediately to resolve the security threats the country faces.
“What we need to have in place is a political leadership that has the will, the courage and the determination to restore law and order. Restoring law and order is a multifaceted approach; both social, economic as well as security,” said Abubakar. “You must have a political leadership that has vision, the will and the courage to pursue those multifaceted approach.”
Government officials rejected Abubakar’s criticism as politically motivated, citing the former vice president’s association with the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
They said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has demonstrated commitment to addressing the insecurity challenges in spite of the terrorism the country faces, which they said is a global phenomenon that requires international cooperation to combat it.
Some supporters of the ruling PDP say activities of the Boko Haram appear to be politically motivated aimed at embarrassing the government and make it unpopular ahead of the elections. But Abubakar disagreed.
“It’s not supported by any empirical evidence. I think we should stop passing the buck at each other,” he said. “As long as this security situation is concerned we should work as a team, the whole country. Whether opposition whether ruling party, we should work as a team to make sure that we restore peace, unity and stability.”
Analysts say the APC is expected to pose a significant challenge to the dominance of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s vote.
Abubakar says the APC has a real chance to defeat the PDP in the presidential vote next year.
“I have never seen a climate that gives the opposition so much hope than today. Because since the return of democracy, Nigeria has been governed by only one ruling political party, and Nigerians really want to see a change,” said Abubakar. “I toured the country and this sense of change is pervasive. So if the APC can put its house in order, Nigerians will give that party the opportunity.”
It’s been reported that Abubakar, who is the chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee of the opposition group, harbors presidential ambitions to lead the APC in elections next year. But Abubakar dismissed those reports.
“All I was trying to do is to make sure that we provided Nigerians an alternative opposition. This is because I am a firm believer in a two-party system. A two-party system will provide Nigerians with alternatives from time to time,” he said. “A single major or powerful political party will result into a one party system and will ultimately land us into the hands of a dictator. And God-forbid I don’t wish to live and see a dictator in Nigeria.”
Abubakar admits helping to build a formidable party to challenge the PDP in next year’s vote but declined to say whether he will be the presidential candidate for the APC.