Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari is incapable of addressing the wanton killings carried out by herdsmen in the country and should not win re-election.

The struggle for economic resources like land and water between farmers and nomadic cattle herders, usually of the Fulani extraction but not exclusively, has led to a lot of bloodshed in the country in 2018.

Countless attacks have been attributed to herders after an escalation of simmering tension with local farming communities, tension that was worsened by the implementation of anti-open grazing laws in Benue and Taraba, two of the worst-hit states.

A recent report by Amnesty International noted that the Federal Government failed to prevent the killing of 3,641 Nigerians by herdsmen in the last three years of Buhari's administration.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

In a statement signed by Atiku's Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, he said Buhari has failed in his duty to protect the lives of Nigerians and should not be rewarded with re-election next year.

Atiku said if Buhari wins the 2019 presidential election, the killings will continue and likely escalate into a series of ethno-religious crises.

He said, "Unless Nigerians vote out the All Progressives Congress administration, killings by herdsmen will continue and ultimately spark series of ethno-religious crises that will be irreversible.

"It is now very clear, like Amnesty International said in its report, that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has displayed gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its people who have witnessed many preventable deaths.

"This situation has put the nation on the verge of disintegration."

According to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, nearly 1,700 violent deaths have been attributed to herdsmen in attacks carried out in 2018 alone.

"Nearly 1,700 violent deaths have been attributed to the Fulani Ethnic Militia from January to September 2018. An estimated 89% of those killed were civilians," the report read.

Atiku said Buhari is ill-equipped to deal with Nigeria's security problems which he said has led to the death of countless Nigerians and scared foreign investors away.

"This is not reassuring to the people of Nigeria as well as foreigners who may want to do business in the country," he said.

2019 presidential election

While next year's election, scheduled for February 16, 2019, is expected to be keenly-contested between Buhari and Atiku, they both face competition from other candidates including Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP)Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).

Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.

79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria's electoral history.