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Atiku confident for Nigeria poll

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Atiku at PDP Plateau Rally. Photo/Twitter/ Atiku

Nigeria’s main opposition presidential candidate said in an interview broadcast on Thursday that he was confident of victory in next month’s elections.

“I’m not going to lose,” Atiku Abubakar told BBC World Service radio. “But everybody knows that I have accepted (the result) if I have lost in the past.”

Voters in Africa’s most populous nation go to the polls on February 16 to elect a new president and parliament, with governorship and state assembly elections set for two weeks later.

Abubakar, 72, who is referred to as “Atiku” across Nigeria, is a wealthy businessman and former vice president with several failed presidential bids behind him.

The upcoming vote could be his last chance to clinch the nation’s top job, but he has repeatedly accused President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling party of electoral fraud.

In December, he accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of buying voter cards. Civil society groups have alleged that Abubakar’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have done the same.

Abubakar and other candidates were also accused of offering financial inducements to delegates at the PDP presidential primaries.

Asked whether he would concede if defeated, he said only that the party would “of course consider what went wrong” and any legal challenge that resulted would be conducted peacefully.

Buhari also dodged a question about conceding defeat at a question and answer session on Wednesday evening.

As in 2015, security will be a major issue, particularly after an upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in recent months against the military in northeast Nigeria.

Buhari, a former army general and military ruler, came to power on a promise to defeat the jihadists, whose insurgency has killed more than 27,000 since 2009.

Abubakar gave no concrete details on how he would end the conflict, which has also left some 1.8 million homeless and led to a humanitarian crisis.

But he said he would conduct a review of operations with top commanders “to ensure they are effective and that we can defeat Boko Haram in the shortest possible time”.

He also indicated he would replace the current military top brass, assessing that the leadership was “fatigued”. “They have been there for too long. There are no new ideas,” he said.


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