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Nigerian Opposition to Address May Day Rallies

May first, Monday is a day set aside for the celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement and also the day when workers take stock of their progress or the lack thereof. May Day is the day the Nigerian opposition had called on its supporters to protest against the April 14 and 21 flawed elections that gave the ruling party a landslide victory.

Lai Mohammed is the national publicity secretary for the Action Congress Party of Vice President Atiku Abubacar and also spokesman for the coalition of political parties and civil society. He told VOA the Nigerian opposition will speak at Monday's May Day rallies across the country.

“You see, May Day is traditionally a workers’ day. So all we’re doing really is we have met with the leadership of the labor union and they are going to accommodate us today to use their platform to call for support that these elections must be cancelled because they were certainly rigged. So it is not the traditional calling out our members on the streets to go and protest the election. But as from today, there will be series of activities which we believe will force government to listen to our demands for fresh elections,” he said.

Mohammed said the political parties are working with an element of surprise in terms or when they would call their own protest against the April elections. In addition, he said the Action Congress party has embarked on a multi-pronged approach.

“In the first instance, I don’t think it would be quite prudence on our part to let the government know when or how or what form the mass protest will take. The element of surprise is also very important in this matter. Secondly, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are not just embarking on mass protest as a means to get this election cancelled. We have also embraced the legal and constitutional options. As I am talking to you now, the Action Congress party is almost finishing its preparation, and will go to court to challenge the validity of this election,” he Mohammed said.

He dismissed suggestion the police would like for the opposition to seek a permit before holding any anti-election protest.

“They can’t stop us. We are Nigerians and have the right to participate in this May Day rally. We will be at the rally; we will use the platform of the workers’ union to make our demands known, and to enlist the support of the labor unions, unless they are going to say that there will be no May Day celebration all over the country today, and that will be a big problem on the national government because they will be taking on labor head on,” he said.

Mohammed said the dispute over the April elections has not divided Nigerians. Instead he said it has united them.

“This election has united Nigerians because for the first time the struggle is not between southerners and northerners, nor is it between Christians and Moslems. All the three central personnel, Yar’dua, Atiku Abubacar, and Muhammadu Buhari all come from the northern part of Nigeria. They are Moslems. So it’s about democracy; it’s about rule of law. So if anything, it has united Nigerians more than ever,” Mohammed said.