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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Nigeria strike over 'flawed' poll
Man walks down deserted street in Abuja
The streets of Abuja are normally full of traffic
Nigerian trade unions have started a two-day general strike in protest at last month's elections, on the eve of the inauguration of the new president.

A BBC reporter in Lagos says offices and banks are closed, with few vehicles or people on the streets.

There is more activity in the capital, Abuja but government offices are shut.

A senior union official told the BBC the new government had been brought to power by fraudulent means. Umaru Yar'Adua is to be sworn in on Tuesday.

The BBC's Fidelis Mbah in the commercial capital, Lagos, says the heavy traffic you would normally see on a Monday morning is absent.

But he says some people may have stayed at home because of local media reports that Monday and Tuesday had been declared public holidays because of the inauguration.

We want to tell the world, we want to tell Nigerians that the elections were massively rigged
Nuhu Toro
Deputy NLC leader

The government has denied these reports.

However Reuters news agency reports that many Nigerians are apathetic about the protest.

"Tomorrow is the handover, so what difference will it make?" said Daniel Legunsen, who was at work selling photocopiers in Abuja.

This is to be the first time in Nigeria's history that one elected leader has handed power to another.

'Perilous time'

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has told the BBC the country needed a revolution to break the cycle of incompetent and inhuman leadership.

"I think what a country like Nigeria needs is a genuine, authentic but humane revolution," he said.

Umaru Yar'Adua (File photo)
Umaru Yar'Adua won by a landslide, according to official results
Mr Soyinka said Mr Yar'Adua was "an unknown quantity" who was taking power at a "perilous time".

Previous opposition protests over the elections have not succeeded but our reporter says the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has the organisation to ensure that its call for workers to stay at home for two days is heeded.

"We want to tell the world, we want to tell Nigerians that the elections were massively rigged," deputy NLC leader Nuhu Toro told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Local and international observers also condemned the poll as a "charade" and "not credible".

Observers say that results were announced even in areas where no elections were held, either because of violence, or because voting materials were not delivered to polling stations.

In most such areas, candidates from the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) were credited with massive victories.

The election commission, Inec, has denied charges that it favoured the PDP.

Mr Yar'Adua has promised to introduce electoral reforms.

The two main opposition candidates have challenged the results in court.


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