The United States-based New York Times says the postponement of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission was orchestrated by President Goodluck Jonathan to frustrate Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the All Progressives Congress.
The newspaper, which has won 114 Pulitzer Prizes, further stated that Jonathan appeared to be afraid of the increasing popularity of Buhari, who most Nigerians would likely vote for.
It said this in the editorial of its Monday edition titled, “Nigeria’s Miserable Choices”.
The publication 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 appears more likely that Mr. Jonathan grew alarmed by the surging appeal of Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who has vowed to crack down on Boko Haram. By dragging out the race, Jonathan stands to deplete his rival’s campaign coffers while he continues to use state funds and institutions to bankroll his own.”
It said INEC’s excuse that elections were postponed because security forces wanted to fight insecurity would have been taken in good faith if Jonathan had been tackling insecurity effectively since he took office.
The 164-year-old newspaper said that Jonathan had become so unpopular that Nigerians were not afraid of the idea of a former military dictator returning as President.
It however said that Jonathan had become worried about the rising insecurity and was willing to accept help from western powers.
The newspaper warned that election postponement might increase the level of insecurity rather than reduce it and that Nigeria’s democracy would not survive an electoral crisis.
It said, “Beyond security matters, entrenched corruption and the government’s inability to diversify its economy as the price of oil, the country’s financial bedrock, has fallen and has also caused Nigerians to look for new leadership.
“Nigeria, the most populous African nation, and a relatively young democracy, cannot afford an electoral crisis. That would only set back the faltering efforts to reassert government control in districts where Boko Haram is sowing terror.
“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.”