President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday made a surprise visit to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, one of the northern states under siege by Boko Haram.
The president arrived in the city shortly before 3:00 pm and was met at the airport by the state governor Kashim Shettima, AFP reports.
He was accompanied by the chief of defence staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, top military officers, the national security advisor and about 200 soldiers.
The visit is Jonathan’s first to Maiduguri since March 2013. He had one planned for May last year, but it was canceled. He had planned to visit Chibok, the town where over 200 girls were abducted in April 14, 2014. The cancelation was said to have been over security reasons.
He had been strongly criticized for not visiting the troubled state. However, Thursday’s visit may be coming a little too late, as it could easily been seen as a desperate attempt by the president to win reelection in February.
The opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) has in the past raised concern over the disenfranchising of the people of Nigeria’s northeast, whose towns are daily being hit by insurgent attacks. Although not much progress has been made in restoring peace in these areas, both the government and INEC have insisted that elections would hold there.
Boko Haram attacks have led to the death of thousands since attacks by the group began in 2009. The group wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.