– Boko Haram excuse –
Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analyst at Red24 risk consultants, said it would be surprising if the six-year Boko Haram insurgency was used a reason for postponement rather than voter card problems.
He told AFP in an email that it was “extremely optimistic” to suggest that significant gains would be made against the militants between now and the end of March.
“To date, Boko Haram is claimed to control (partially or fully) 20 out of the 27 local government areas in Borno State, and two each in Yobe and Adawama.
“As far as I know, Gamboru has been the only major town to be secured by Nigeria and its international partners since the launch of multi-national counterinsurgency operations.
“To dislodge Boko Haram from all of these areas in a period of six weeks would be an unprecedented feat.
“But even if achieved, securing liberated territories would be a task in its own, particularly if multinational forces withdraw their presence from Nigeria.”
The election, being held simultaneously with polling for a new national assembly, involves 14 presidential hopefuls, although Jonathan and Buhari are the only realistic contenders.
The PDP, which has been in power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999, has mounted a series of personal attacks on Buhari’s health, religious views and even his eligibility to stand.
He and his party have dismissed the smears as a diversionary tactic intended to deflect attention away from scrutiny of the government’s record in power.
The PDP meanwhile has played up its purported achievements in office, from overseeing Nigeria’s emergence as Africa’s leading economy to attempts to decrease reliance on oil revenue.