Nigerian presidential hopeful Atiku Abubakar on Friday derided Goodluck Jonathan’s record on security, vowing that Boko Haram could be crushed easily if politicians chose to do so.
Abubakar, who was vice president under Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007, is looking to win the presidential ticket for the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) at next year’s vote.
In an interview, he accused Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of lacking the political will to end the insurgency, which has killed thousands since 2009.
“This insurgency shouldn’t have lasted even six months,” he told AFP in Abuja and recalled sectarian religious violence in the northeast state of Yobe during his time in office.
“Within weeks we crushed it because we did not neglect military training and, of course, we did not lack the leadership and the capacity to take decisions,” he added.
Nigeria’s army has in recent days claimed a number of successes against the militants, who have seized towns and villages across the far northeast in their quest for a hardline Islamic state.
The apparent military gains came after top brass admitted that Boko Haram’s land grab threatened the nation’s sovereignty and multiple reports that the militants had overrun soldiers.
Abubakar has long harboured ambitions for Nigeria’s top job but fell out of favour with Obasanjo towards the end of their tenure and defected to an opposition party to contest the 2007 election.
He later rejoined the PDP fold but lost out to Jonathan for the 2011 presidential ticket and again defected last year, joining the APC.
Abubakar claimed he had been proved right about Jonathan, with few visible improvements in tackling corruption, poor governance and accountability in addition to the worsening security situation.
“I told Nigerians that he (Jonathan) did not have the capacity, he didn’t have the experience. He didn’t have anything and yet they gave him the chance, the opportunity,” he added.
“And they can now see the chance and the opportunity they gave him. Of course I’m more experienced than he is. I believe my capacity cannot be compare with his, in all respect.”
Jonathan is widely expected to stand for a second, four-year term and this week PDP state governors and the party’s national executive committee endorsed him as their only candidate.
Abubakar is likely to come up against a number of formidable opponents for the APC ticket.