Buhari to run again for Nigerian presidency

0,,17015052_303,00www.dw.de – When Nigerians go to the polls in February 2015 to elect a president, they will again be asked to choose between incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.The 2015 Nigerian election campaign will take place against the background of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north of the country . Opposition candidate, retired general Muhammadu Buhari, draws much of his support from the north. To find out more about his chances this time round, DW spoke to Hussaini Abdu of the NGO Action Aid Nigeria.
DW: Hussaini Abdu, could you please describe Muhammadu Buhari for us?
Hussaini Abdu: He is a former military head of state who led the coup against the government of President Shehu Shagari in the early 1980s and served for less than two years as president. He has a reputation for his very strong stance against corruption. Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body created by the government of General Abacha, and funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country, such as hospitals and roads. One of the major things he is credited for is transparently managing resources and ensuring that those resources actually work for people.
How big are the chances that he could win the 2015 election? How big a challenge is he to President Jonathan?
I think Buhari has always remained a big challenger to all the presidential candidates. Yes, of course, the results also show a relative underperformance by him. In 2003 he was a major contender against President Obasanjo. In 2007 he was a major contender against Yar’Adua. He has strong backing especially in the northern part of the country – in the northeast and the northwest where the bulk of the voting population is to be found. For the first time the election will be held with a strong opposition. I think, apart from 1999, there has not been a presidential contest which has had a stronger opposition than we have now. This is because most of the opposition parties merged two years ago to form the new All Progressives Congress (APC ) and that has possibly changed the dynamics of elections and electoral politics in the country. Of course we know it is difficult in most African countries to defeat an incumbent president. So that will be a tall order for the opposition .
What alternative to President Jonathan does he offer Nigerian voters?
Nigerians are very worried that the opposition is not going to present a strong alternative to what we currently have. This election is going to run on three major issues. The first issue is security in the country; the second is corruption, trying to see what the current leadership has done in the fight against corruption and what the opposition is putting on the table as their response to corruption. And I think the third major issue will be infrastructure, again looking at the president’s performance, particularly on electricity. I hope the politicians will deal with these issues and not push the country to begin to debate ethnicity or religion.
How do you assess the security situation in northern Nigeria now and looking ahead to February when the elections will take place?
It is very difficult to be able to manage a security situation in two months that we have not been able to manage well for five years. I will be very surprised if there is a big reversal of the security situation before the elections. In the last year, the situation has actually deteriorated, we have seen Boko Haram gaining more ground, we have seen them occupying more territory. I think we may not be able to reverse that situation between now and the elections.
And how dangerous will that be for politicians who will be campaigning and for electoral officials making preparations?
It will be very dangerous because public gatherings have become very difficult in most parts of northern Nigeria, especially in the three core states of Boko Haram activities, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states. It will be very difficult to have public rallies. In fact elections may not be held in some local governments in the three states because Boko Haram is still occupying territory there.
Hussaini Abdu is the country director of Action Aid Nigeria.
Interview: Asumpta Lattus

Categories: Africa, Politics

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