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Cablegate: Nigeria: Ambassador's Meeting with Plateau

VZCZCXRO8514
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0215/01 0350803
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040803Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1985
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8661
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000215

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA
ENERGY FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAID NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PLATEAU
GOVERNOR JANG


-------
SUMMARY
-------
1. (U) Summary: In a January 25 meeting with the Ambassador,
the Governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang (People's
Democratic Party - PDP), and Deputy Governor, Pauline K.
Tallen (PDP) presented a copy of their 10-Point Agenda and
emphasized peace and stability, education, health, and
tourism as the priorities of the administration. Jang
praised the fairness of the 2007 election in his state, but
expressed concern about the federal government's neglect of
development and economic issues outside of the Federal
Capital Territory (FCT). He also worried about the situation
in the Delta and Nigeria's image abroad. Jang requested
patience and assistance in key areas from the USG as Plateau
State and Nigeria work towards democracy and noted that the
area's ethnic tensions of 2007 seems to have passed. Jang
also shared his plans to travel to the United States for the
National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and the World
Agriculture Expo in California in February, but expressed
concerns about possible negative treatment by U.S.
Immigration because of Nigeria's image. End Summary.

-----------------
JANG'S PRIORITIES
-----------------
2. (U) Governor Jang began the meeting by addressing the
issues he faces as Governor, such as religious and cultural
instability within the state, a collapsed educational system,
and lack of health care. Jang presented to the Ambassador a
copy of the 10-Point Agenda he created for his administration
in October 2007, emphasizing peace and stability as the
priorities. Plagued by religious and cultural violence over
the years, Jang stated that peace has been restored and the
many tribes residing in Plateau are beginning to reintegrate.
Jang said that Plateau State held the most free and fair
elections in the country in April 2007 and promised that the
upcoming Local Government Election would follow suit.
Ambassador said she had noted in her confirmation hearings
that despite the disappointing election overall, Plateau was
acknowledged for conducting a reasonable process during the
chaos.

3. (U) Jang listed the other priorities for his
administration as education, health, and tourism. Jang said
that the state's educational system collapsed under the past
administration and he and his Deputy Governor, who also acts
as the Commissioner of Education, are implementing plans to
rehabilitate the system. Jang requested USG assistance in
building capacity in these key areas. Ambassador highlighted
what the USG was doing in the region already on these issues,
especially in the area of HIV/AIDS.

---------------
JANG'S CONCERNS
---------------
4. (U) Jang said he was disappointed by the federal
government's neglect of the states, noting that development
needs to occur throughout the country, not just in the
Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Jang said that the economy
in Plateau State has steadily declined over the years and
that a majority of the residents live in poverty. Jang added
that he is determined to change the lives of the people
living in rural areas of Plateau State, noting that 70
percent of the residents are farmers. Providing a little
background on the state, the governor explained that there
was a time when tin mined in Plateau helped sustain the
country and Jang wants to begin to utilize the natural
resources of the state again and ensure that the mistakes of
the previous administration are not repeated.

5. (U) Jang also mentioned his concern about the situation in
the Delta. He highlighted that a master plan for the Delta
is needed to rebuild the region, similar to the one developed
when the GON built Abuja from scratch; starting with schools
and opportunities for employment.

6. (U) According to Jang, Nigeria's image has been damaged
due to the level of corruption perpetrated by previous
governors, many of whom are now being investigated by the
EFCC. Jang said that when he attended the Governor's Forum

ABUJA 00000215 002 OF 002


in Abuja recently, all the current governors decided to
change Nigeria's image within the country and abroad by
following President Yar'Adua's lead on rule of law and
transparency. Jang asked that he and his fellow new
governors be given a chance to prove themselves before being
judged. Jang also requested the international community,
especially the U.S., be patient and assist GON when possible
so they can "get it right."

7. (U) Ambassador thanked the governor for receiving her and
her delegation and noted the agreement on the challenges
regarding Nigerian development and corruption issues. She
underscored USG goals for Nigeria and highlighted the USG
work in the Jos area on PEPFAR and the University supported
American Corner. She said she would pass back to Washington
the dates of the governor's travel for the Prayer Breakfast
and encourage the due courtesies. Ambassador concluded her
remarks by encouraging Jang and his Deputy Governor (the only
female deputy governor in the north) to continue their good
work on building bridges between the ethnic groups in their
region and their support for improved education and health
care.

-------------
JANG'S TRAVEL
-------------
8. (U) On February 1, Governor Jang will lead a delegation
from Plateau State to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on
February 7 in Washington DC. On Saturday, February 9, Jang's
delegation will travel from Washington to Los Angeles,
California for the World Agriculture Expo before returning to
Nigeria on February 15. (Note: Jang expressed concern over
the possibility of he and his delegation being treated poorly
by security and customs officials upon arrival at Dulles
airport in the U.S. Ambassador promised to forward Jang's
delegation and travel information to the appropriate
officials to ensure a proper protocol is observed. End Note.)

--------------------------------------------
JANG'S BIOGRAPHIC INFO AND POLITICAL HISTORY
--------------------------------------------
9. (U) Biographical Note: Prior to being elected to office in
May 2007, David Jonah Jang ran for Governor of Plateau State
in both the 1999 and 2003 elections. In 1999, Jang contested
in the People's Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial primary,
but was not selected as the party's candidate. In 2003, when
it became clear to Jang that the PDP would once again back
then incumbent Governor Joshua Dariye for re-election, Jang
decided to contest on the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP)
platform. Although observers believe Jang may have been more
popular, incumbent Governor Dariye (PDP) was again declared
the winner. Before the 2007 election, the PDP wooed Jang
back to the party since Dariye was disgraced and already
reached his two term limit. In April 2007, Jang contested
and was awarded the governorship of Plateau State on the PDP
platform. Prior to 1999, Jang also served as military
governor of Benue State and Gongola State (now Adamawa
State.) Born in 1944 in the Jos South Local Government Area
of Plateau State, Jang holds a Bachelor's Degree in Divinity
from the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. Jang also
received further training as a member of the Nigerian Air
Force both in Nigeria and abroad, including time at Randolph
Air Force base in the U.S. After retiring in 1990 with the
rank of Air Commodore, Jang began his career in politics.
End Biographical Note.
SANDERS

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