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Nigerian President Mulls Unity Government


Nigeria's new President Umaru Yar'Adua is contemplating the formation of a national unity government in a bid to unite his fractious nation. Mr. Yar'Adua has been holding talks with leaders of Nigeria's three main opposition parties. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports that the opposition is already divided on the prospect of working with the new government.

The All Nigeria People's Party, the Action Congress and Progressive Peoples Alliance do not recognize Mr. Yar'Adua's election victory in April because of alleged vote-rigging. At least two of these political parties are challenging the results in court.

But cracks within the opposition are beginning to show as Mr. Yar'Adua presses for unity.

Ibrahim Modibo of the All Nigeria People's Party says the party is willing to attend Tuesday's meeting with the president to hear what he has to offer.

"The team will go and listen to what the president has to say, before it will come back to the leadership of the party and present what the president has said," he said. The leadership of the party will have the final say as to whether we are going to participate, and what we are going to do with the case in court. All will be decided by the leadership of the party."

Analysts see Mr. Yar'Adua's plan to bring in opposition figures into the fold is a way of quelling criticism. So far, Nigerians say the president has failed to move quickly on pressing issues, such as the violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the recent strike against rising gas prices.

But political analyst Maxi Okwu says the real problem is the president's leadership style is out of tune with the expectations of most Nigerians.

"Nigeria is a nation in a hurry," he said. "We love drama, so Nigerians are a little bit impatient. Even the labor confrontation [strike] ought not to have occurred if Yar'Adua had done politics on the 29th May by repudiating all the last-minute measures put in place by [former president] Obasanjo. I think Yar'Adua has to move faster."

Mr. Yar'Adua, in another effort to strike a conciliatory tone, said Monday he regretted the hardship experienced by Nigerians as a result of the four-day nationwide strike over fuel price increases. The president thanked organized labor and Nigerians for their understanding and patience.

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