ABUJA: Nigeria's general election will not be postponed past March 28, National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki said today, after he successfully lobbied for a poll delay because of Boko Haram violence.
"Those dates will not be shifted again," Dasuki told AFP when asked if the polls, initially scheduled for February 14, could be pushed back further.
Dasuki urged election officials to postpone the vote on the grounds that the military could not provide nationwide election security because all available resources were being deployed to the northeast to fight Boko Haram.
His justification for the delay was widely criticised, in part because the military is not primarily responsible for election security in Nigeria.
Troops have only been called in when police and civil defence units have needed reinforcements.
In the interview, Dasuki suggested the main motivation for the delay was the need to assure safe voting in the northeast states where Boko Haram is most active and controls significant territory: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The opposition and some observers said the poll was delayed to allow more time for President Goodluck Jonathan to revive his campaign, which was facing a tough challenge from ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
But Dasuki insisted there was no political motive underlying his call for a delay.
"It's not everybody who does things for selfish reasons. Some of us have a conscience," he said.
He said the postponement could easily help the opposition All Progressives Congress, because improved security could boost turnout in the northeast, an APC stronghold.
The NSA said he believed the new military cooperation agreed two weeks between Nigeria and its neighbours - Cameroon, Chad and Niger - will prove decisive against Boko Haram.
Nigeria's military has its own largely failed to contain the uprising over the last six years.