13th February, 2015
President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday promised there would be no further vote delays, after the electoral agency pushed back the presidential and parliamentary polls by six weeks to May.
“We will surely conduct elections as scheduled. We promise you. Communicate this to your homes that elections will be conducted as scheduled and on 29th of May, there will be an inauguration of a president of this country,” he told the foreign envoys.
The electoral agency INEC had on Saturday postponed the presidential and parliamentary elections earlier scheduled for February 14 to March 28, citing insurgency problems especially in northeast of the country.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also shifted state governorship and assembly elections from February 28 to April 11.
The United Nations and the European Union have led a chorus of disapproval over the poll shift.
Jonathan said that the six-week extension would give the security agencies time “to clean up” the three states — Borno, Yobe and Adamawa — that are mostly affected by an insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants.
“If at all they cannot clean up the three states, at least two states will be recovered completely and more local governments recovered even from the remaining state. So that at least elections could be conducted,” he stated.
This period (of extension) will give them the opportunity to clean up the three states,” said Jonathan.
He boasted that Nigerian forces will recover “completely” territories being occupied by the insurgents in Adamawa and Yobe states.
“And even in Borno state, the headquarters of Boko Haram, even if we don’t take over completely, at least 70 percent of that state should be free for elections to be conducted,” he said.,
Troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon are joining Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists.
Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since Nigeria’s neighbours decided last month to muster a 7,500-strong five-country force to take on the extremists.
The planned contingent was later boosted to 8,700.
Boko Haram rebels carried out their first attack Friday inside neighbouring Chad, targeting a village on the shores of Lake Chad as part of a widening insurgency that has now sucked in four countries.
Boko Haram, which already controls vast swathes of northeast Nigeria, has ramped up its bloody, six-year insurgency in the past few months.
The conflict has killed more than 13,000 since 2009 and become an increasing regional threat.