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Cablegate: Nigeria: Staffdel Meeting with Delta State

VZCZCXRO6994
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0151/01 1151350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241350Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9874
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9589
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0192
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000151

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA, DS/IP/AF, DS/ICI/PII, DS/DSS/OSAC
OSLO FOR HELENA SCHRADER
DOE FOR GPERSON
TREASURY FOR ASEVERENS, SRENENDER, DFIELDS
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
STATE PASS USTR FOR ASST USTR FLISER
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR MARAD
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN AND MSTUCKART
STATE PASS TDA FOR NCABOT
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SENV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: STAFFDEL MEETING WITH DELTA STATE
GOVERNMENT

REF: A. ABUJA 643

B. LAGOS 64

1. (SBU) Summary: In a 27 March meeting with Senate Foreign
Relations Committee Staff members (Staffdel) Michael Phelan
and Neil Brown, Godwin Akpobire (Head of the Delta State
Integrated Development Project) complained that international
donors insufficiently consult with state governments when
conducting projects in their territories. Akpobire blamed
foreigners and Nigerians from outside the Niger Delta for oil
theft and the proliferation of small arms. Fiscal
responsibility and government procurement legislation have
been introduced in the state assembly, but Akpobire
criticized the state auditors and said he supported civil
society and community oversight of government spending. End
Summary.

------------------------------------------
International Donors Do Not Consult States
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Godwin Akpobire, Head of the Delta State Integrated
Development Project (under the office of Delta State Governor
Emmanuel Uduaghan, People's Democratic Party), told Michael
Phelan and Neil Brown, staff members from the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, that international donors do not consult
enough with state governments on the conception,
implementation, and monitoring of donor projects. Akpobire
was dismayed that international donors often prefer to offer
"monitoring assistance" without addressing actual project
needs or costs, especially when states contribute matching
funds. In cases where donors do conduct direct projects,
foreign aid agencies act without notifying the state
government, Akpobire chided. He said he would request
auditors visit donor projects in Delta state to assess their
completion and how they could be more efficient or enhanced.
Akpobire thought state relations with donor agencies would
improve if there were a better vehicle for direct
communication and collaboration and he claimed intermediaries
encumber government access to donors and only build mistrust.

-----------------------------------------
Foreigners Responsible for Oil Bunkering,
Arms Proliferation
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Akpobire blamed outsiders and not Niger Delta
residents for oil theft and the proliferation of small arms
in the region. The complexity and scale of oil theft
operations demands far more organizational capability,
political connections, and financial resources than are
available to the average local living in the creeks and
swamps of Delta State, said Akpobire. While some locals are
likely involved in the theft rings as manual laborers,
outsiders are responsible for selling the oil, coordinating
its transfer to receiving vessels, providing security, and
facilitating financial transactions. Moreover, he placed the
blame principally on oil buyers, noting that theft will
happen only as long as there are buyers for illicit oil (Ref
A). Akpobire took the opposite tack on small arms in the
Niger Delta, complaining that as long as outsiders sell arms
to groups in the Niger Delta, the proliferation of weapons
will continue.

4. (SBU) Discussing the unrest in the Niger Delta, Akpobire
said the Delta State government understands the genesis of
militancy and criminality (began by youth rebelling against
corrupt traditional rulers and oil companies in the late
1990s), and is working with militant leaders such as Tom Polo

LAGOS 00000151 002 OF 002


to transform Delta into a safe state. Akpobire said Tom Polo
is the largest private employer of youth in Delta State and
reliably pays his workers, who simply want meaningful jobs.
(Note: In addition to his militant and criminal
organizations, Tom Polo runs several small oilfield services
businesses. End Note.) He credited the state government's
efforts with these groups and its work with the Delta State
Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) (Ref
B) for eliminating attacks on and kidnapping of expatriates
in recent months.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Delta State Ready to Pursue Fiscal Responsibility
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Akpobire lauded the federal government's passage of
a fiscal responsibility law and thought this would facilitate
passage of such laws at the state level. Akpobire said a
member of the Delta state legislature recently introduced a
fiscal responsibility and government procurement bill and he
noted the bill is currently being reviewed by a working
committee of the legislature.

6. (SBU) In addition, Akpobire advocated increased oversight
of government contracts to guard against corruption, but
complained state government inspectors and auditors are not
up to the task. He suggested encouraging civil society and
communities to monitor contracts and contractor performance.
He also envisioned an oversight board similar to that
governing the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative (NEITI) that could hold state government
accountable for revenue spending and procurement processes.

7. (SBU) Comment: Akpobire's complaints that international
donors fail to coordinate with state governments have been
raised by other government contacts in southern Nigeria. He
was quick to blame Niger Delta outsiders for oil bunkering
and small arms trafficking, pointing a finger alternately at
the demand side in oil theft and the supply side in arms
sales. While his comments suggest a concern over foreign
disregard for local interests and foreign causation of local
problems, they are also an example of a distressing tendency
of some Niger Delta officials to refuse to acknowledge the
role they and their organizations play in sustaining poverty
and unrest in the region. For our part, there are a range of
agencies and sections that have sought and continue to work
with reforming state governments to be responsive to Niger
Delta community needs, in addition to their work with NGO and
civil society groups. End Comment.

8. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja.
BLAIR

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