Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said that the current security situation in the country was "appalling" and accused the government of lacking the political will to address the Boko Haram insurgency.
In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) monitored in Abuja, the former vice president said there was need to restore law and order and protect unarmed civilians who he said had often been victims of terror attacks carried out by the Islamist militants.
According to Atiku, the growing insecurity had undermined the country's economy and negatively impacted Nigeria's reputation in the international community.
"The security situation in the country, I must admit is appalling. I have never seen it this bad - not even during the civil war did we have this sense of insecurity all over the country," said Abubakar.
He outlined steps that could be implemented immediately to resolve the security threats. "What we need to have in place is a political leadership that has the will, the courage and the determination to restore law and order. Restoring law and order is a multifaceted approach; both social, economic as well as security. You must have a political leadership that has vision, the will and the courage to pursue those multifaceted approaches", he opined.
On allegations that insecurity in the country was occasioned by the opposition, Abubakar disagreed but pressed for all hands to be on deck to tackle the issue.
"It's not supported by any empirical evidence. I think we should stop passing the buck at each other. As long as this security situation is concerned, we should work as a team, the whole country whether opposition or ruling party, we should work as a team to make sure that we restore peace, unity and stability", he said.
Abubakar said the APC had a real chance to defeat the PDP in the presidential vote next year. "I have never seen a climate that gives the opposition so much hope than today. Because since the return of democracy, Nigeria has been governed by only one ruling political party and Nigerians really want to see a change. I toured the country and this sense of change is pervasive. So if the APC can put its house in order, Nigerians will give that party the opportunity.
"All I was trying to do is to make sure that we provided Nigerians an alternative opposition. This is because I am a firm believer in a two-party system. A two-party system will provide Nigerians with alternatives from time to time.
A single major or powerful political party will result into a one party system and will ultimately land us into the hands of a dictator. And God forbid, I don't wish to live and see a dictator in Nigeria", he said
Abubakar admitted helping to build a formidable party to challenge the PDP in next year's vote but declined to say whether he will be the presidential candidate for the APC.