Nigeria's presidential candidates fight for voters on all media -- except live presidential debates
Major issues many Nigerians want addressed include: security, the economy, corruption and electricity
Opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari blames government for military setbacks against Boko Haram
Huge campaign rallies, posters plastered across the country, and expensive advertising and social media strategies – Nigeria’s two main presidential candidates are fighting for voters across all mediums, except one: There will be no live presidential debates in this election.
But on Wednesday evening, many Nigerians got the closest to seeing their two main choices fight it out over the airwaves. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan addressed the country by one of his irregular “media chats” broadcast on NTA (the National Television Authority), and his challenger Muhammadu Buhari spoke to Christine Amanpour on CNN.
“In six weeks, serious advances will be made but I’m not saying we will wipe out Boko Haram,” said President Jonathan when asked a question about one of the most pressing issues for many Nigerians – national security.
In recent months, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram has made significant territorial gains in northeast Nigeria, but a recent offensive by Nigeria and neighboring countries, Chad and Niger, hopes to roll back these advances.
However, on Amanpour, the opposition candidate Buhari dismissed such claims and blamed the government for repeated military setbacks: “The misappropriation of resources provided by the government for weapons means the Nigerian military is unable to beat Boko Haram.”
Nigeria’s upcoming election is set to be the closest since the country returned to democracy in 1999. The major issues many Nigerians want addressed include: security, the economy, corruption and electricity.
There are also significant concerns about the run-up and conduct of the elections themselves. Voting day was postponed after the Nigerian military said they could not provide security for the elections due to the ongoing offensive against Boko Haram in the north.
The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, released a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” by any “political interference” by the military, and Buhari’s opposition party has called the postponement a “setback for democracy.”
President Jonathan insisted the delay was not a “big deal” during his media chat, but made clear what is at stake in this election: “If the Electoral Commission conducts this election poorly, it’s on my head.”