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New Nigerian president must deal with Boko Haram, says cardinal

Supporters of Muhammadu Buhari celebrate his election victory (PA)

The head of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has said that the new president of Nigeria must tackle Boko Haram as a priority.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Archbishop of Abuja said that dealing with the violent insurgency perpetrated by the Islamist militants is vital to restoring stability in the country.

Cardinal Onaiyekan said Muhammadu Buhari must promote “national cohesion” between Nigeria’s many different ethnic and religious groups. He also said ending corruption and poor governance was another major priority for the new president.

“We have a very bad record on corruption … and there’s no doubt this is pulling our nation down,” the cardinal added.

Former military ruler Gen Buhari became the first opposition candidate to win a presidential election in Nigeria. He beat Goodluck Jonathan by more than 2.5 million votes, with the incumbent conceding defeat on Tuesday.

Cardinal Onaiyekan told Vatican Radio that he pleased that there was “transparency” surrounding this general election compared to previous votes in Nigeria. Yet, he said no election was “perfect” and that there was “always a danger” of post-election violence.

The cardinal added, however, that he hoped this would not be the case because Gen Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan both previously urged their supporters not to react violently to the election result.