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 - Nigeria's opposition said Monday that delaying next month's election because of raging Boko Haram violence would mark "a victory" for the insurgents, and urged the government to respect the electoral calendar.
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) charged the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with secretly backing postponement, and of using the Islamist attacks as justification.
"The truth is that the forthcoming elections terrify the PDP and the (President Goodluck) Jonathan administration to such an extent that they are looking for ways to postpone or scuttle the polls," APC spokesman Lai Mohammed said in a statement.
"Any postponement on the basis of the insurgency in the northeast will represent a victory for the terrorist group Boko Haram," he added.
The PDP has not come out in favour of pushing back the February 14 vote, but National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki has said election officials needed more time to distribute voter ID cards.
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Violence in Boko Haram's northeastern strongholds has escalated dramatically in recent months, most recently with the weekend assault on Borno State capital Maiduguri that was repelled by armed forces.
Jonathan's position on a potential delay was left unclear in a statement released Sunday following his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The president said the May 29 date for inaugurating the winner of the election was "sacrosanct," but he made no specific comment on the inviolability of February 14 for voting.
"This is not reassuring enough," APC spokesman Mohammed said. "For us, the February 14th and 28th dates (of state governor and state assembly elections) are as sacrosanct as the handover date of May 29th."
Spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Kayode Idowu, told AFP Monday the body remains firmly committed to holding the election on February 14.
He denied reports published Monday in the APC-controlled Nation newspaper that the national security advisor had scheduled a meeting with the election chief to push for a delay.
Regarding Dasuki's argument that more time was needed to distribute voter cards, the APC said any claim of "INEC not being ready for the elections is sheer baloney".