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Nigerian Opposition Protest Fizzles Out After Government Crackdown Threat

Workers in Nigeria marked May Day with rallies across the country. Gilbert da Costa reports for VOA that plans by the opposition to stage protests about the recent elections during the rallies fizzled out under threats of a crackdown.

May Day rallies passed off without any major hitches in Nigeria as supporters of the Nigerian opposition shelved plans to use the rallies to protest recent elections.

At Eagles Square in central Abuja, where a rally was held of the rank and file of the organized labor movement, police cordoned off the square and people entering were asked to produce identification documents.

Anti-riot police units supported by armored personnel carriers monitored events closely. Opposition leaders say threats of a police crackdown forced the them to reconsider plans for anti-government protests.

Despite the subdued atmosphere at the Abuja rally, the sense of frustration among workers over the recent elections was palpable. Many Nigerians believe they were marked by widespread fraud. Comrade Wale Jolawoye is the secretary of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners.

"The recent election has not met the aspirations of Nigerians," he said. "The elections were a sham. So the mood of the people reflects the actual position of the election."

"If Mr. president or a prominent member of this administration, the workers could have booed him because of the manner the election was conducted. The mood of the people, which you have seen today, is not unconnected with people who are discouraged. People are not happy with the way the election was conducted," he added.

Opposition leaders say they are now planning what they will do next to protest the election. They have have promised to pursue every line of action to, as they say, retrieve the stolen mandate from the just concluded general elections.

Meanwhile, the authorities are making plans to inaugurate the new government at the end of this month and are also warning they will crack down on dissidents.