A spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the president will win re-election in February’s poll because his policies enjoy overwhelming support.
Reuben Abati said the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) remains the strongest and most united party in Nigeria.
Jonathan’s opponents have criticized him for failing to stop the violent five-year insurgency of the Islamist group Boko Haram which has killed thousands of Nigerians in the past five years and seized control of towns in the northeast for what it calls an Islamic caliphate.
They also said the economy during Jonathan’s first term has hurt the middle class, and has been characterized by corruption.
“I would draw your attention to the overwhelming support that President Jonathan enjoys among Nigerians. The clearest evidence that we can find is that the majority of the Nigerian people are solidly behind him, his party is behind him. He remains the main candidate in the 2015 elections. Everybody in the PDP endorsed him at all levels,” he said.
Abati said ordinary Nigerians contributed money to pay for Jonathan’s nomination papers, another sign of public support and admiration for the president.
Last month, the army announced it had reached a ceasefire with the insurgent group and an agreement for the release of the more 200 girls it kidnapped earlier this year. Since then, Boko Haram has denied it ever reached such an agreement.
Abati said Jonathan never said he had reached an agreement with Boko Haram to free the schoolgirls, but said he has always been committed to freeing the girls and returning them safely to their families.
“The president has always made it clear that solving the problem of terrorism, putting an end to the threat of terror, is a collective responsibility, and [the] government welcomes the option of dialogue to find the solution to the problem. And, it is within that context that the government decided to encourage the intervention of the government of Chad. But, [the] government did not announce categorically that this is the outcome at this particular time,” Abati said.
Jonathan has also been criticized for handling of the economy. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said earlier this year that the country’s economic situation under Jonathan reminded him of the days of dictator Sani Abacha, when the middle class was destroyed.
Abati said Nigeria’s economy under Jonathan has been growing consistently at between six to seven percent.
“With the rebasing of the Nigerian economy under President Jonathan’s watch, Nigeria became the leading investment destination in Africa, the 26th economy in the world and the largest economy also in Africa. So, it is not true to say that the middle class in Nigeria is shrinking,” Abati said.