Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is not trying to "rig himself back" in next month's hotly contested presidential election, says a top official. Abubakar Sulaiman, chairman of the National Planning Commission, told a meeting of academics at the University of Abuja that Jonathan supports a fair election. “One thing we should all know is that Jonathan does not have the plan to rig himself back," he said, the local press reported Sunday.
Nigeria's presidential election was postponed until March 28 earlier this month after the military said it could not guarantee safety for voters in the northeast region, terrorized by the Boko Haram Islamist group. The delay has been questioned by Jonathan's critics, who predict that voters will be disenfranchised and the government is buying more time to fix the results.
“It’s a facade,” Festus Keyamo, a well-known human rights lawyer, told the Washington Post. “The question I’d ask is: Why would the ruling party want a postponement of the election? The obvious answer is that it did not have a clear indication it would win. No one should be deceived that they want free and fair elections.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has also accused Jonathan of seeking to remain in office by “hook or crook.” Jonathan is running for a second term against Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator. Nigerian officials have urged voters not to turn to violence if their candidate loses. “Why must you feel that if you lose somebody rigged you out, but if you win there is no rigging?” Jonathan has said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the government to keep the new election date “to ensure all voters can exercise their constitutional right to participate in the elections freely and without intimidation.”