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Nigeria opposition leader condemns country’s ‘failures’

Nigeria's main opposition candidate has told Al Jazeera that the "government has failed in its principle duty of protecting life or property of all beings inside its territory".

Leader of Nigeria's All Progressives Congress, former General Muhammadu Buhari spoke to Al Jazeera exclusively on Sunday - a day after the government announced a six-week postponement of the nationwide vote.

The official line is that the government needs more time to ensure security and safety in northeastern regions blighted by a violent campaign by Boko Haram.

Members of the opposition, however, say President Goodluck Jonathan is trying to buy time in the election campaign.

Muhammadu Buhari: Nigeria 'reduced to a failed state'

"It is extremely disappointing," Buhhari said, of the delay.

"The is no reason for it. The Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission gave a detailed brief of activities from the last general election in 2011 to now and they have clearly said that they are ready to hold the election."

Buhari said the government had not been taking the fight against Boko Haram seriously and described the inability to secure 14 local governments in the northeast as "extremely embarrassing".

"There is no need for it [the delay]," he said.

"If the same military can not secure 14 local governorates out of 774 in six years, how can they be sure they can secure those 14 in six weeks?"

"We cannot fight it because it is supported by the constitution. This is the limit.

"We will ask our supporters to remain calm and be prepared to participate in the elections on the 28th of March."

Buhari, who attended college in the United States, previously ruled Nigeria for nearly two years after staging a military coup in 1984.

During his rule, there were allegations of secret tribunals, curtailment of civil liberties, and executions for crimes not punishable by death.

INTERACTIVE: Boko Haram's bloody legacy

He also unsuccessfully ran for office in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The former general served as governor in the country's northeast - the area now dominated by Boko Haram. and has pledged to make security a priority in the region.

"The government is not prepared to fight Boko Haram," he said.

"[It] is not serious about curbing the insurgency in the northeast. If the troops deployed in Ekiti State to rig votes in favour of the government, had been effectively deployed in the north east, he end of the insurgency could have been met."


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Somalia lawmaker shot dead in Mogadishu

Somalia's al-Shabab fighters have shot dead a lawmaker in the capital Mogadishu, the latest in a string of assassinations of politicians in the war-torn country.

"Abdulahi Qayad Barre was shot dead, men killed him as he left his house to go to parliament," fellow MP Abdukarim Hajji said on Monday.

At least five MPs were killed last year, but Barre was the first to have been assassinated in 2015.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab rebels are fighting to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government.

The fighters say they are targeting MPs as they allowed the deployment of foreign troops on Somali soil.

Uganda, Burundi, Djibout, Kenya and Ethiopia have contributed troops to the African Union's peacekeeping mission called AMISOM.

"Shebab commandoes shot and killed Barre, and all the so-called MPs are a legitimate target subject to be killed or captured, to face the justice of Allah," al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab told AFP news agency.

"This [is] the fate of all non believers."

Al-Shabab attacks in Somalia have targeted key government and security sites in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and African Union troops that they are winning the war.

Somalia's parliament is also riven by political infighting, prompting repeated warnings by international donors that the power struggles were stalling progress.

The attack came amid tight security as lawmakers gathered to vote on whether to approve a new cabinet, after parliament rejected the new prime minister's last list of candidates.

Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was named prime minister in December.

The Horn of Africa nation is due to vote on a new constitution next year ahead of elections in 2016, but al-Shabab remains a major threat and stages regular attacks.

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Ivory Coast crowned champions of Africa

Ivory Coast beat Ghana 9-8 on penalty kicks to win the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Neither team was able to score in the 120 minutes of normal and extra time, forcing the title to be decided from the spot.

More to follow

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Muhammadu Buhari: Nigeria ‘reduced to a failed state’

As millions of Nigerians were getting ready to cast their vote in presidential elections, the country's electoral commission announced a six-week postponement of the vote on Saturday.

Officially, the government says it needs more time to ensure security in Africa's most populous nation - particularly in areas dominated by the armed group Boko Haram.

Members of the opposition, however, see it as an attempt by President Goodluck Jonathan to buy time against his leading opponent, former General Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari, who attended the US Army War College in the United States, is 72 years old and has a long involvement in the country's military and political establishment.

Along his military career, his political home is Nigeria's Northeastern state where he first served as governor in the 1970s - the area now dominated by Boko Haram.

After staging a military coup against a democratically-elected government in 1984, he ran Nigeria for almost two years.

He subsequently ran in the elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but lost all of the campaigns.

During his rule, there were allegations of secret tribunals, curtailment of civil liberties, and executions for crimes not punishable by death.

Many in Nigeria are now wavering. They are attracted by the promise of a military man as Boko Haram is gaining strength. But others are concerned about Buhari's own record and his agenda.

So, how will the six-week delay affect Buhari's election campaign? What is behind the delay? How big a threat is Boko Haram? And what is the security situation ahead of Nigeria's elections?

As the democratic process is being delayed, General Buhari of Nigeria's opposition All Progressives Congress talks to Al Jazeera.


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Nigeria postpones presidential vote amid violence

Nigeria's electoral commission has announced that the country will hold elections on March 28, six weeks later than planned, following a rise in attacks by the Boko Haram group in the north.

Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said late on Saturday that security chiefs advised a postponement as troops would not be available because of operations against the armed group.

"If the security of personnel, voters, election observers and election material cannot be guaranteed, the lives of innocent young men and women and the prospect of free, fair and credible elections will be greatly jeopardised," said Jega.


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Nigeria’s former bank chief crowned Emir of Kano

Nigeria's ex-central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, has been officially confirmed as Emir of Kano in a coronation ceremony in the northern state.

The coronation on Saturday attracted high-profile personalities and former presidents of Nigeria, but there were no representatives of the current government.

Sanusi was named Emir of Kano in June 2014, making an outspoken government critic one of the most influential leaders in the largely Muslim north.

The Emir of Kano is seen as Nigeria's second-highest Muslim authority.

During Saturday's ceremony in Kano - the main city of the state - Sanusi reiterated his commitment to serve his people diligently. He said he would serve the emirate in accordance with Islamic teachings, adding that he would serve everyone "irrespective of religious differences".

Security forces manned major road junctions as Sanusi rode on horseback in a colourful procession through the city that has has suffered a string of bomb attacks blamed on the armed group Boko Haram.

Sanusi's switch from the offices of the capital Abuja to the palace in Kano will make him a central player in the country's struggle to defeat the group.

Boko Haram fighters have set their sights on toppling the traditional Muslim hierarchy, accusing it of failing to enforce what they see as their true interpretation of the Quran.

Sanusi has previously strongly spoken out against the group.

Sanusi, who gained international acclaim for his work in reforming Nigeria's banking sector, was suspended from his post at the bank in February 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan in a decision that alarmed international investors.

He was suspended after presenting parliament with evidence that the state oil firm Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to pay $20bn into federal coffers.

The Emirate of Kano was one of the great Islamic empires that dotted the Sahara from medieval times, profiting from caravan routes connecting Africa's interior with its Mediterranean coast.

Former colonial ruler Britain kept most of the northern hierarchy in place and the emirate continued to hold sway over the largely underdeveloped region after independence in 1960.

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DR Congo bag third spot in African Cup

African Nations Cup hosts Equatorial Guinea ended their tournament on a low note as they lost the third-place playoff 4-2 on penalties after drawing 0-0 with Democratic Republic of Congo.

Javier Balboa and Raul Fabiani both missed with poor spot kicks, while all four DR Congo penalty takers found the net, with Cedric Mongongu firing home the decisive kick.

Although supporters largely stayed away from the playoff after the fan violence that marked Equatorial Guinea's semi-final defeat to Ghana on Thursday, those in attendance created a fitting atmosphere for the hosts' final match.

DR Congo and Equatorial Guinea were beaten by Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively in the semi-finals, that pair will meet on Sunday evening in Bata in the final.

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Nigeria’s electoral commission debates poll postponment

Nigeria's presidential election is hanging in the balance as the country's electoral commission meets with electoral commissioners to discuss the possible postponement of the February 14 presidential and legislative elections for six weeks.

A closed-door meeting was being held on Saturday at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, between the INEC, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its main contender, the All Progressives Congress (APC), other opposition parties.

National security advisor Sambo Dasuk initiated the discussions after sending a letter to INEC to postpone the election over concerns that the military would not be able to adequately provide security for the election.

Officials in President Goodluck Jonathan's administration have been calling for a postponement amid continuing violence as the country battles the armed group Boko Haram.

INEC chairman Attahiru Jega has been under mounting pressure to delay polling because of increased fears about the distribution of permanent voter cards to 68.8 million registered electors in Africa's most populated country.

About 40 percent of voter cards have not yet been issued to the registered voters.

Al Jazeera's Mohamed Adow, reporting from Lagos, said that people who are lobbying for a postponement say that these problems affect entire states and that if elections are held now, it will not adequately reflect the will of the people.

Officials from at least three states in the country's northeast say they have been been affected by weeks of attacks by the country's armed group Boko Haram.

Jega has repeatedly ruled out a date change, even after the issue was raised this week at a meeting of the powerful council of states, comprising the current and former presidents.

Civil rights groups, opposition political parties, and Western countries oppose a later election date.

A small protest took place ahead of the meeting on Saturday by civil rights groups opposed to any postponement.

Police prevented them from entering the electoral commission headquarters in Abuja. Armed police began deploying to block roads leading to the building.

Adow tweeted the following image taken from outside the INEC offices:

The demonstrators say that the government has failed to secure the northeastern regions during its term in office and the six-week extension will do little else to improve the situation, interpreting this move as a stalling tactic by Jonathan.

An amalgamation of Nigeria civil society groups under the title Situation Room, issued a statement on Saturday stating that they were disappointed by Dasuk's move.

In the statement they said that "that this amounted to the Military's abdication of its constitutional duties to provide security to citizens and to the Commission to enable it conduct elections and appeared contrived to truncate the democratic process in Nigeria".

"Situation Room is further worried that the Military's position also aims to blackmail and arm-twist the Election Management Body away from its constitutional guaranteed function of conducting elections," the statement said.

The group also called for the resgination of the military chiefs on account of their " inability to exercise their constitutional responsibility".

The US has been urging Nigeria to press ahead with the voting.

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria two weeks ago and said that "one of the best ways to fight back against Boko Haram" was by holding credible and peaceful elections, on time.

"It's imperative that these elections happen on time, as scheduled," Kerry said.

Polls indicate the northeastern vote leans strongly towards the opposition APC, favouring former military leader Muhammadu Buhari, rather than Jonathan.

Supporters of both sides are threatening violence if their candidate does not win. Some 800 people were killed in riots in the mainly Muslim north after Buhari, a Muslim, lost 2011 elections to Jonathan, a Christian from the south.

Analysts say the vote is too close to call, in the most tightly contested election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999.

AU offensive

Meanwhile, a major offensive with warplanes and ground troops from Chad and Nigeria has already forced the Boko Haram from a dozen towns and villages in the past 10 days.

Even greater military strikes by more countries are planned.

African Union officials were ending a three-day meeting on Saturday in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, to finalise details of a a multinational force from Nigeria and its neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger.

"The representatives of Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad have announced contributions totalling 8,700 military personnel, police and civilians," the countries said in a statement after the meeting late on Saturday.

Boko Haram has responded with attacks on one town in Cameroon and two in Niger this week.

Officials said more than 100 civilians were killed and 500 wounded in Cameroon. Niger said about 100 fighters and one civilian died in attacks on Friday. Several security forces from both countries were killed.

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