Nigeria roiled: Kano bombings toll rises to 34, as poll shows Jonathan and Buhari tied at 42% for March 28 vote


Former military ruler bemoaned the fact that Nigeria needs to draw on support from its neighbours to fight the Boko Haram rebellion.

A TWIN suicide attack this week at a bus station in Nigeria’s Kano city killed 34 people, a union official said Thursday, giving an updated toll after police said 10 people died.

Boko Haram Islamist militants have not claimed the blasts, but the group has repeatedly targeted Kano, including bus stations, throughout its six-year uprising.

“The victims included 21 passengers in a bus that was about to leave for its destination, three of our members and 10 petty traders,” said Ahmed Saleh, of the National Union ?of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who is based at the targeted Kano Line station.

He said workers compiled the new toll after counting the charred remains of victims following Tuesday’s attack.

Kano police spokesman Musa Magaji Majia told AFP that the force’s official toll remained at 10 dead.

Two men blew themselves up shortly after getting off a bus at the station, causing chaos at the station and scattering blood and human flesh around the site.

Nigeria’s is struggling to control Islamist violence ahead of March 28 general elections.

The vote had been scheduled for February 14, but security chiefs pushed for a six-week delay, saying the postponement would provide extra time to weaken Boko Haram before polling day.

Buhari warns

Meanwhile Nigeria’s main opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, said he won’t accept further delays to those already postponed elections and that the armed forces aren’t receiving support in their battle against Boko Haram, Bloomberg reports.

“Any form of extension is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated,” Buhari, a 72-year-old presidential candidate, said in a speech on Thursday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, or Chatham House, in London. 

“In the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor incentives.” The election commission of Africa’s largest economy and biggest oil producer delayed national and state elections due this month by six weeks to March 28 and April 11.

Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, 57, of the ruling People’s Democratic Party is facing challengers including Buhari, a former military ruler and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, formed through the merger of the biggest opposition parties. Buhari’s party is expected to give Jonathan’s PDP the stiffest electoral contest of its 16 years in power, with polls showing a close race. 

Tied in opinion poll

Both are tied at 42% among likely voters, the highest level recorded for an opposition candidate since 2000, according to January 27 report by Afrobarometer, a research group funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development, among others. 

Buhari bemoaned the fact that Nigeria needs to draw on support from its neighbours to fight the Boko Haram rebellion. “We have now become dependent on our neighbours to come to our rescue,” he said. 

“What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership. Our soldiers are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty.” 

Chad is intervening in Nigeria to force Boko Haram out of towns it holds as part of a self-declared caliphate. The group has extended its six-year insurgency in Africa’s top oil- producing nation to other countries in the region, including Chad, Cameroon and Niger. 

Boko Haram killed more than 4,700 people mainly in the north last year, double the number who died in 2013, according to estimates from Bath, U.K.-based risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. 

Buhari said he wouldn’t promise to offer an amnesty to the militants if elected and he would seek to prosecute those responsible.

Plug holes 

A northern Muslim who ruled between 1983 to 1985 after instigating a coup, Buhari is running in his fourth presidential campaign and wooing voters in the predominately Christian south outside his northern power base. 

His backers say his earlier stint in power before he was toppled by another military putsch showed him to be uncompromising on corruption and security, while detractors say his government was remembered for human rights abuses, with hundreds of politicians, businessmen and journalists jailed.

If elected Buhari said he would plug holes in the budget and stop “leakages,” while he would make the state-oil company and customs office publicly disclose their accounts and submit to regular audits. “The corrupt will not be appointed into my administration,” he said. 

Nigeria has become “one economy for a few who have so much on their tiny islands of prosperity, and another for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.”

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