Boko Haram in Nigeria: Goodluck Jonathan using fear of Islamists to manipulate election, says opposition

Muhammadu Buhari says the President is exploiting the West’s fear of terrorism to manipulate the voting and carry out a media propaganda blitz

Goodluck Jonathan is attempting to exploit the West’s fear of Islamist terrorism to subvert democracy in Nigeria, the President’s main opponent in the coming election is to declare during a visit to London.

The need to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east of the country has been the official reason given for the polls being postponed from mid-February to 28 March.

But Muhammadu Buhari says the real intention of the incumbent leader is to use the time to manipulate the voting and carry out a media propaganda blitz using millions of dollars of dubious provenance.

Mr Buhari, who is to give a speech at the think-tank Chatham House tomorrow, says he is the man to end the rising insurgency and reform the economy. He says the ruling party has allowed Boko Haram to grow to create a distraction from corruption and chronic mismanagement in Africa’s largest oil-producing state.

 

Mr Jonathan, who is a Christian, is now playing the “Islam card”, according to Lai Mohamed, Mr Buhari’s senior adviser. “This is not a religious war, if it was, why is it that most of those killed by Boko Haram are Muslims?”

He said that while Boko Haram has gained in its reach “a lot of people have become very rich”, and added that the West “would be naïve to think that Goodluck Jonathan is their partner against Islamist terrorism”.

Mr Buhari, a retired major-general who ruled the country between late 1983 and 1985, is also said to be aware that there may be suspicion in the West about another general trying to take political power in the region. But he points out that he did not try to organise coups after previous election defeats and instead used the due process of law to challenge the outcome of the polls.

He also promises to carry out changes in the army to make it a more effective fighting force. The military regime under General Buhari became known for its crackdown on corruption and indiscipline. But critics say there were also widespread human rights abuses. “The law will be strictly applied… when we win,” Mr Mohamed said. “We are going to try and root out corruption, but there will be no witch-hunt against Goodluck Jonathan and his people. We will be too busy trying to rescue an economy in which unemployment is 23 per cent and rising.”

Mr Buhari’s officials claim that his alliance of parties, All Progressive Congress, is in the lead among voters. But opinion polls have shown contradictory results and the government and the opposition have accused each other of intimidation and vote-buying.

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