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Cablegate: Nigeria: Democracy Outreach Summary

VZCZCXRO6391
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0816/01 1271311
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061311Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2754
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0224
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9180
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000816

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA, AF/PD
DEPT. OF ENERGY FOR GEORGE PERSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KPAO NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: DEMOCRACY OUTREACH SUMMARY

REF: A. STATE 44903
B. 07 STATE 108924

1. (U) In response to ref A, Nigeria is generally considered
a free nation and developing democracy. In keeping with the
President's Freedom Agenda, the Chief of Mission and officers
from relevant Mission agencies and sections (including
Political, Public Affairs, and USAID) regularly meet with
human rights activists, opposition leaders, civil society
representatives and others who may be critical of the
government and seek to strengthen Nigeria's nascent
democracy. Although Nigeria welcomes refugees from other
nations, we are not aware of many dissidents from un-free
nations, people living in exile, or asylum seekers living
here. In the past year, the Mission organized and hosted
numerous events, activities, and meetings in an effort to
promote human rights, good governance, and political freedom,
including a few events in Rivers and Bayelsa states in the
conflict-prone Niger Delta. Several examples of Mission
outreach activities are listed below.

2. (U) In October 2007, the Mission hosted a human rights
reception in honor of the visit to Nigeria by the board of
the international organization Human Rights Watch. Bringing
together over 80 key Nigerian activists, their international
counterparts, and members of the Mission, the event enabled
discussions about the importance of human rights in a
successful democracy.

3. (U) In November 2007, the Mission hosted a civil society
dinner in honor of Deputy Secretary John D. Negroponte's
visit to Abuja. Over 20 leaders of Nigeria's active civil
society attended and shared their views on the need for
electoral reform and transparency in the government.

4. (U) In January 2008, the Ambassador gave a speech and
answered questions at the American Corner in Jos in honor of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The event highlighted the
importance of civil and human rights activism and how people
willing to voice their concerns can make a difference.

5. (U) In January 2008, the Ambassador hosted a roundtable of
NGO's working in Rivers and Delta states. There was a frank
discussion of the difficulties the NGOs face in a region
hobbled by militancy and underdevelopment. The event
highlighted the role of civic education, information
technology and HIV/AIDS programs in providing alternatives to
violence and furthering democratic development.

6. (U) Also in January 2008, Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd
Moss and the Ambassador hosted a dinner for Niger Delta
leaders including government leaders, ethnic leaders and NGO
leaders to discuss the status of Niger Delta peace
negotiations and ways to move forward the democratic
development of the region.

7. (U) In February 2008, the COM commemorated
African-American History month, as well as International
Women's Day, by renaming Embassy Abuja's Information Resource
Center/ Educational Advising Center the "Rosa Parks Education
and Information Center". During the inauguration ceremony,
the Ambassador encouraged civil and human rights supporters
to emulate the courage of Rosa Parks and continue their
courageous fight for equal rights and a free and fair
democracy. The event was well attended by civil society and
human rights groups.

8. (U) Also in February 2008, the COM hosted a womens'
roundtable. The event was well attended, with participants
including business owners, NGO leaders and artists.
Discussion ranged from opportunties to empower women to the
state of the educational system.

9. (U) In April 2008, The Ambassador convened an interfaith
roundtable in the northern Bauchi State. The roundtable
brought together five Christian and five Muslim leaders from
the region to discuss interfaith relations and look for
opportunities for mediation in an area prone to interfaith
conflict.


ABUJA 00000816 002 OF 002


10. (U) In May 2008, USG-funded National Democratic Institute
(NDI) offered capacity building training to the national
Electoral Reform Commission, providing information on
international best practices in electoral systems, appointing
of electoral administration bodies and political party
representation in electoral administration.

11. (U) These are just a few examples of how the Ambassador
and other Mission officers show USG support for human rights
and democracy; however, Mission agencies and sections engaged
in many additional activities throughout the year. For more
specific details of mission-wide activities, please see the
following Congressionally-mandated annual reports for Nigeria:

2007 Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report
2007 Democracy Strategies Report.
SANDERS

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