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Nigerian official confident of postponed election success, opposition candidate critical

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at Toronto International Airport, June 24, 2010. Jonathan had urged postponement of the Feb. 14 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria due to the threat of Boko Haram. On February 7, 2014, the elections were officially rescheduled for March 28. File photo by Dave Chan/UPI
Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at Toronto International Airport, June 24, 2010. Jonathan had urged postponement of the Feb. 14 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria due to the threat of Boko Haram. On February 7, 2014, the elections were officially rescheduled for March 28. File photo by Dave Chan/UPI | License Photo

ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Nigeria's Minister of Interior Abbo Moro said the postponed elections will be successful, while opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari has criticized the government's decision and tactics against Boko Haram.

Moro said enough troops would be deployed to improve security for the postponed elections on March 28, which were originally to be held on Saturday.

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The threat posed by Boko Haram was the official reason the government gave for the postponement, but critics have accused the government of stalling in an attempt to win more votes.

The Nigerian government of current President Goodluck Jonathan "has failed in its principal duty of protecting life or property of all beings inside its territory," Buhari said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

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The government delayed the presidential elections as well as the elections for parliament, state governorship and assemblies.

Buhari said the postponement is "extremely disappointing," but pleaded for calm and accepted the decision as it is upheld by the constitution.

"There is no reason for it," Buhari said. "The Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission gave a detailed brief of activities from the last general election in 2011 to now and they have clearly said that they are ready to hold the election."

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with 173.6 million people. Many Nigerians hope to see a military man as president to combat Boko Haram.

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"If the same military can not secure 14 local governorates out of 774 in six years, how can they be sure they can secure those 14 in six weeks?" Buhari added.

Buhari attended the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., and is a former Nigerian Army major general. He staged a coup in 1983 and ruled Nigeria for two years; his administration was plagued by corruption and ended with another coup.

Boko Haram has escalated its attacks ahead of the Nigerian elections. It has conducted multiple attacks since the start of the year, including an attempted siege on the city of Maiduguri.

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Boko Haram was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2013.

The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians. A state of emergency has been declared since May 2013 in the northeastern areas of Nigeria where Boko Haram operates.

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