President Goodluck Jonathan’s purported dismal performance in the last six years has brightened the chances of his main rival, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in next month presidential poll, the New York Times newspaper said.
The US-based international publication in its editorial Monday entitled “Nigeria’s miserable choices”, said that Jonathan’s poor record has helped a lot in soaring Buhari’s appeal among Nigerians.
The March 28 presidential election “presented voters with the dispiriting choice of keeping a lousy incumbent or returning to power a former autocratic leader”, the newspaper said.
The newspaper editorial noted that Buhari “has emerged as potential winner is more of an indictment of Mr. Jonathan’s dismal rule than a recognition of the former military chief’s appeal”.
On postponement of the polls, the New York Times said “any argument to delay the vote might be more credible if President Goodluck Jonathan’s government had not spent much of the past year playing down the threat posed by the militants and if there were a reasonable expectation that the country’s weak military has the ability to improve security in a matter of weeks”.
It said that “it appears more likely Mr. Jonathan grew alarmed by the surging appeal of Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who has vowed to crack down on Boko Haram”.
The newspaper reasoned that by extending the date for the elections, Mr. Jonathan stands to deplete his rival’s campaign purse, while he continues to use state funds and institutions to bankroll his own.
On the Boko Haram insurgency, the publication said through its abductions and attacks, the group have exposed the weaknesses of Nigeria’s armed forces and the dysfunction of the government.
“Although Mr. Jonathan’s government has in the past been less than enthusiastic, and at times obstructive, in response to offers of American and European aid, he appears to be growing increasingly worried”, the editorial said.
Under Jonathan’s rule, beyond insecurity, entrenched corruption and the government’s inability to diversify its economy as the price of oil crumbles “also caused Nigerians to look for new leadership”, the newspaper said.
The newspaper concluded that though Nigeria cannot afford an electoral crisis, “the security forces may not be able to safeguard many districts on Election Day. But postponement is very likely to make the security threat worse”.