Nigeria postpones election to counter rising militancy
Nigeria has announced a six-week postponement of its presidential vote to ensure security in areas targeted by Boko Haram militants.
According to an electoral official, Nigeria’s electoral commission is to officially announce later on Saturday a plan to put off the February 14th vote for six weeks, a move which is apparently meant to give more time to multinational forces in their battle against Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists.
Millions of Nigerians could have been disenfranchised if the vote had gone ahead on time as the terrorist group controls large swathes of land in northeastern areas of the country. Around 1.5 million people have already been forced out of their homes in the wake of the militancy.
The opposition, however, has criticized the postponement of the polls, saying that it serves the aspirations of the incumbent administration, which is trying to secure another term in office.
President Goodluck Jonathan has faced huge criticism over the rapid rise of the militants and many say the decision to delay the votes gives him more time to expand his party’s popular base.
More countries in Africa are planning to launch attacks on Boko Haram as the rise of the Takfiri group poses a great risk to their security. The African Union has agreed on plans to create a joint force comprised of 7,500 troops from five nations – including Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin – to battle the terrorists.
A major offensive with warplanes and ground forces from Chad and Nigeria has already forced the militants from a dozen towns. Chad troops launched a massive raid in northeast Nigeria last Tuesday forcing militants out of the major town of Gamboru. Nearly 200 Boko Haram militants were killed during the attack. The terrorist group responded a day later by attacking the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol, killing around 94 people including 13 Chad soldiers.
The Nigerian government has failed to push back Boko Haram from the territories it controls. Abuja says it lacks enough resources to battle the extremist group which has been engaged in the killing of civilians and government forces over the past six years. The group has intensified its terror activities in Nigeria over the past months. The Boko Haram militancy killed 4,700 Nigerians in 2014 alone.