Soldiers of the Chadian army patrol on January 21, 2015, at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, some 40 km from Maltam, as part of a military contingent against the armed Islamist group Boko Haram. Chad, seen as having the most capable military ~ ALI KAYA
Abuja - It is a "disgrace" for Nigeria that its neighbours have been more successful in battle against its Boko Haram insurgency than its own army, opposition presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari said in an interview a week before the election.
Troops from neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, all much smaller and poorer than Nigeria, have been battling the Islamist militants who have seized territory in northeastern Nigeria in a five-year insurgency.
Thousands have been killed and 1.5 million displaced in the uprising by militants known for executing and kidnapping civilians.
"It's a big disgrace for Nigeria. It is now Cameroon and Chad fighting the insurgency more than us. We will build the capacity and should be able to secure our territorial integrity," Buhari told Reuters.
A former military ruler, Buhari is hoping his strongman reputation will resonate with voters disheartened by incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan's failure to tackle the insurgency.
The election itself, set for Feb 14 although there has been talk of possible delays, will be another big test of security. Eight hundred people died in violence after the last election in 2011.
Buhari said that he was committed to using the courts if there are irregularities in the voting, and would not call his followers into the streets.
"I'm optimistic that I won't lose. But we signed an undertaking that it will be violence free," Buhari said. "We are attempting to stabilize a multi party democratic system."
Buhari said his administration also intends to tackle corruption within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) and plans to reopen an investigation into missing crude revenues of around $20 billion.
He would also tackle the theft of crude tapped from pipelines in the Niger River delta.
"Our main objective is to secure the country. We will not tolerate insurgency, sabotage of the economy by the blowing up of installations, by stealing crude and so on.... All these things will be things of the past."