ABUJA - Hundreds of Nigerians gathered in the capital Abuja yesterday for a march to the presidency. They demanded to see ailing leader Umaru Yar'Adua, who returned two weeks ago from a Saudi hospital.
The 58-year-old leader has not been seen in public since returning after three months of treatment in Jeddah for a heart condition. There have been no announcements on his health, but presidency sources say he is in intensive care.
His return, while still too frail to govern, raised fears that his inner circle of aides, led by his wife Turai, would fight to maintain their influence over Africa's most populous nation and seek to undermine acting president Goodluck Jonathan.
A power struggle at the top of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) nation of 140million people could bring paralysis in government decision-making, threatening an amnesty programme in the oil-producing Niger Delta and stalling momentum on reforms.
Several hundreds of people, many wearing T-shirts with "Save Nigeria Group" and "Enough is Enough", gathered near a city centre hotel under the watch of police lining the avenue.
"We want the invisible president to be revoked. We are tired of a president we can't see, who can't govern. We want to see him," Babatunde Ogala, a politician from Lagos, told the gathering crowd.
Officials organising the march said they planned to walk to the presidential villa to hand over a letter of protest.
"Turai, leave Nigeria alone" and "Jonathan get decisive now" read some of the banners.
Such political demonstrations are relatively rare in Nigeria.
Similar marches in recent months have passed peacefully. - Reuters