Tags: Nigeria | president | ailing | health

Protesting Nigerians Demand New Leader

Tuesday, 12 Jan 2010 01:28 PM


Thousands of Nigerian opposition figures and rights activists staged a protest march in the capital, Abuja, on Tuesday to demand ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua hand over power to his deputy.

It was a party atmosphere as the protesters drummed and chanted anti-government slogans during the five-kilometer walk to the forecourt of the National Assembly. Some carried placards and banners demanding, "Umaru, where are you?" and "We want electoral reforms now."

First to address them was Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. He told the cheering crowd that the government had treated Nigerians with contempt over the president's illness and long absence from Nigeria.

"The nation has been despised and treated with contempt," Soyinka said. "We've been treated as colonials, colonialised all over, this time by internal colonialism. We are all dignified beings who deserve to know the truth at all times about our methods of governance."

Another speaker was a leading politician from the north, Farouk Aliyu, dismissed reports that the ailing president broke a seven-week silence by speaking to the BBC on Tuesday. He also criticized what he claimed was a conspiracy by some politicians in the north to deny Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian from the oil producing region, from taking over from Mr.Yar'Adua, even temporarily.

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