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Cablegate: Nigeria: Bi-Weekly Pol/Econ Updates for Apr 16-30

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INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
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RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9199
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RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 ABUJA 000863

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DEPT PASS TO USTR-AGAMA
DOE FOR GPERSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET ETRD KJUS KCOR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BI-WEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR APR 16-30

REF: A. A: LAGOS 152
B. B: ABUJA 780

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (U) Following is a joint Embassy Abuja-ConGen Lagos
compilation of April 16-30, 2008 political/economic
highlights, which did not feature in our other reporting,
covering:
-- Elections: Tribunals, Reforms, Re-Runs
-- PDP Politics
-- Corruption
-- Niger Delta
-- National Assembly
-- Economic News
-- Oil and Gas
-- Security
-- Other Noteworthy News

--------------------------------------
ELECTIONS: TRIBUNALS, REFORMS, RE-RUNS
--------------------------------------
2. (SBU) SOKOTO AND BAYELSA RE-RUNS: INEC announced the
re-run gubernatorial elections in Sokoto and Bayelsa states
will take palace May 24. While INEC cleared Aliyu Wamakko to
re-contest the Sokoto election on the platform of the PDP,
some observers complain that this is contrary to the Kaduna
Court of Appeals April 11 decision which overturned Wamakko's
election on the basis of Wamakko's ineligibility to stand as
a PDP candidate. (Reftel A and B)

3. (U) SOUTHWEST ELECTION TRIBUNAL UPDATE: The Ekiti, Ondo
and Osun election tribunals continue to receive evidence and
hear witness testimony. In Oyo, Biola Ajimoby (ANPP) filed
an appeal to overturn an election tribunal ruling that upheld
the gubernatorial election for Alao Akala (PDP). Akala's
lawyers have also submitted an appeal, requesting the
tribunal to reinstate some of the votes he considers were
unjustly nullified in the tribunal's ruling. (Note: Governor
Akala claims the tribunal shortchanged him in determining the
number of votes he received. End Note.) In Ogun, the State
Election Tribunal ruled that ANPP gubernatorial candidate
Senator Ibikunle Amosu failed to identify his party
affiliation during the election. The court has ordered a new
tribunal to examine the issue. No date has been set for a
new trial.

4. (SBU) SOUTHEAST ELECTION TRIBUNAL UPDATE: The Court of
Appeal in Enugu on April 28 began hearing the appeals filed
by Enugu Governor Sullivan Chime against the January 18
election tribunal verdict nullifying his election. In Abia
State, Governor Theodore Orji has filed an appeal of the
tribunal decision invalidating his election, claiming the
tribunal erred by not recognizing his claim that he had
resigned as Chief of Staff to the former governor before
running. (Note: As Chief of Staff to the former governor, he
would have been ineligible to run for the governorship had he
not resigned. End Note.) Orji has also appealed a ruling
that declared him a member of a secret cult, illegal for
government employees under Nigerian law.

------------
PDP POLITICS
------------
5. (U) On April 24, the INEC Commissioner for Party
Monitoring criticized the PDP for the handling of its March 8
national convention. The Commissioner said the party,s
chairmanship aspirants should have withdrawn their candidacy
48 hours before the election, rather than less than 24 hours
before the vote. Nigerian press reported that the PDP had
reached a consensus on its choice for national chairman and
deputy chairman on March 7.

----------
CORRUPTION
----------
6. (U) Nigerian press reported that labor unions and workers

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staged a rally protesting President Yar'Adua's "inability to
investigate cases of corruption" against former President
Obasanjo, and calling for Obasanjo to be brought to trial
over his mishandling of the power sector during his
eight-year tenure in office. Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC)
president Abdulwahed Omar said the protest is organized to
"ensure that all those who looted the country's funds,
whether in the power sector, oil sector, or any sector of the
economy are prosecuted." Omar added that former minister of
the Federal Capital Territory Nasir el-Rufai should be
reprimanded for his "criminal grabbing of government land and
government houses." The NLC is reportedly angered over the
privatization of strategic infrastructures, social services,
and cultural facilities.

-----------
NIGER DELTA
-----------
7. (U) SUIT ASKS OBASANJO TO ANSWER ALLEGATIONS OF MURDER:
Nigerian press reported April 30 that an Abuja Magistrate
Court has summoned former President Obasanjo to appear before
it next month to answer allegations of murder perpetrated in
Benue and Bayelsa states. The leader of the Niger Delta
Volunteer Forces, Dokubo Asari (who had been released June
2007 following two years in prison for treason charges),
filed the suit alleging that Obasanjo had ordered the
Nigerian military into two communities where several
civilians had consequently been murdered. (While the
Magistrate Court has no jurisdiction to hear criminal cases
involving murder, it is the court of first instance. If this
court rules the case has merit, it can then be moved to the
Abuja Federal High Court.)

8. (U) MEND'S "OPERATION CYCLONE": In a statement published
on its website, The Movement for the Emancipation of the
Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for blowing up a
major Shell Petroleum Development Company pipeline on April
24. The statement claims that this is one of many pipeline
attacks under MEND's so-called "Operation Cyclone" meant to
cripple the oil industry. The MEND statement said the attack
was in response to a statement issued by Rivers Governor
Amaechi that MEND's activities would be "checked through the
deployment of naval gunboats in the creeks." The statement
also reiterated the Movement's support for the detained
criminal/militant leader Henry Okah. Subsequent public
statements by MEND welcomed former President Jimmy Carter to
"mediate" a peace process in the Niger Delta.

-----------------
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
-----------------
9. (SBU) PolOff spoke with the attorney for senatorial
aspirant Usman Abubakar (ANPP), who is contesting the
election of Senate President David Mark (PDP). The Benue
State Election Tribunal had earlier ruled to re-run the
election in two of nine local government areas in Benue.
Abubakar and Mark both filed appeals to the ruling.
Abubakar's attorney confirmed he was still in the process of
drafting briefs for the appeal, and he does not expect a
decision by the appeals court before June.

-------------
ECONOMIC NEWS
-------------
10. (SBU) POSSIBLE PFIZER SETTLEMENT: Pfizer representatives
met with the Deputy Chief of Mission on April 22 to provide
an update on ongoing legal cases and settlement negotiations.
Pfizer reported a meeting with the Kano State Governor,
cryptically suggesting the possibility of a settlement soon
if Pfizer increased its offer. For now, two sides are far
apart on the amount. Pfizer is also planning to pursue
international arbitration with the GON. Pfizer
representatives thanked the Embassy for its support of the
company.

11. (U) POWER POTENTIAL: A U.S. Trade Development Agency
(USTDA) sponsored team visited Nigeria to meet with officials
to discuss independent power producers and review two

ABUJA 00000863 003 OF 006


potential hydro plants in the northern states of Adamawa and
Kaduna. The USTDA consultants told us that the report
recommends that USTDA move forward with a feasibility study
for an Adamawa hydro plant at Kiri Dam, which is located on
the Gongola River, a tributary of the Benue River. This plant
would produce about 35-50 megawatts at a construction cost of
about $44 million. There are no flow records for the Kaduna
waterfalls site, but the project appears to have 5-15
megawatt potential. A feasibility study for the Kaduna site
is not recommended at this time.

12. (U) NATIONAL COUNCIL ON VISION 2020: The media reported
the creation of the National Council on Vision 2020. The
National Council is expected to propose an economic strategy
that will "catapult Nigeria into the top 20 economies of the
world by 2020." President Yar,Adua serves as the chairman
of the Council, and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan is the
deputy. Other government members include the Senate
President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governors
of Lagos, Imo, Delta, Kware, Bauchi and Kaduna states, as
well as representatives from federal ministries and the
private sector. The main goals of the Council are to approve
national priorities; develop a comprehensive plan, and
framework to mobilize resources from the private sector;
propose appropriate goals, targets and strategies; and
recommend a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

13. (SBU) "DESERT TO FOOD" PROJECT: On April 28, the Managing
Director of FramanAgridev, an agricultural development
company, told PolOff that the GON signed a 28-year memorandum
of understanding with the company to support a "Desert to
Food" project in Nigeria. The project is intended to boost
employment and development in the agricultural sector.
FramanAgridev's Desert to Food project would transfer Israeli
and U.S. technologies and equipment to northern Nigeria and
reclaim desert lands through massive irrigation and a tree
and crop planting scheme. Fifty percent of the funding will
come from the Federal government, 20% will come from state
governments, local governments will contribute 10% (and
land), with the remaining 20% coming from private investors.
The company estimates that 250,000 workers will be employed
to complete this project in 19 northern states. The MD said
President Yar'Adua supports the Desert to Food project
because he was involved in the project planning as Governor
of Katsina.

14. (SBU) "SWAMPS TO FOOD" PROJECT: Governor Akpabio of Akwa
Ibom will sign a Swamps to Food MOU in late May that will
bring aquaculture, an aquaculture feed mill, and livestock
farming to the riverine area of this Niger Delta state,
according to the FramanAgridev MD. The Akwa Ibom State
Assembly has already approved 300 million naira for the
project.

15. (U) RICE IMPORTATION: The Government of Nigeria (GON)
agreed to import 500,000 metric tons (mt) of rice. N80
billion ($678 million) will be released immediately from the
Natural Resources Fund. A bag of rice costs between N10,000
($84) and N12,000 ($101) from about N5,500 ($46) four months
ago. The GON expects the importation plan to bring the price
down by half to N6,000 ($50).

16. (U) EMBASSY SCIENCE FELLOW: Edward Campbell from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture arrived in Abuja on April 27 and
will spend seven weeks working with the Geological Survey of
Nigeria Agency (GSNA). Campbell will be augmenting work done
last year by another Science Fellow that assisted the GSNA in
creating remote sensing and digitizing programs for
developing mining concessions. He will travel to Kaduna, Jos
and Ile Ife to view GSNA operations, conduct workshops and
staff training. Campbell previously worked in Nigeria from
1982-84 on the Soil Map of Nigeria Project, and again in 2001
as part of a technical assistance project to Nigeria.

17. (U) NUCLEAR SAFETY VISIT: A team from the Office of
Global Threat Reduction, National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) of the U.S Department of Energy,s
Nuclear Security Administration visited Nigeria from April

ABUJA 00000863 004 OF 006


19-25. The team conducted coordination meetings with
representatives of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency
(NNRA) and discussions on upgrades to protect radioactive
sources at Nigerian facilities. The initial meetings were
held at the NNRA in Abuja, and the team traveled to Zaria,
Ajaokuta, Ibadan, and Lagos to conduct initial assessments of
the facilities for security upgrades. NNSA is planning to
work with NNRA on potential technical assistance to upgrade
security.

18. (U) MINERALS AND METALS POLICY: To complement the
Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, a new policy was
approved by the GON on April 29, 2008. The Minister of Mines
and Steel, Sarafa Tunji Isola, said the mining policy would
provide a road map for the country,s mining sector. The
Minister reported that the mining sector contribution to
Nigeria,s GDP stands at 0.05%, and the goal of the Ministry
is to increase it to 5% within ten years. The Policy,s
objectives are to produce coal for power generation, and
stimulate agricultural and fertilizer production. As a next
step, the GON will soon set up state mineral management
committees.

19. (SBU) NIGERIAN OPTICAL-DISK (OD) PLANTS HURTING: On May
5, 2008 EconOff met with Toju Ejueyitchie, Chairman of the
Nigerian Association of the Recording Industry (NARI), to
hear industry comments on OD production. Ejueyitchie said
that the Nigerian Copyright Commission has not stopped the
illegal replication of optical disks in Nigeria and that the
unlimited and unregulated flow of imported pirated ODs into
Nigeria will likely lead to the collapse of the domestic
production industry.

-----------
OIL AND GAS
-----------
20. (SBU) EXXON MOBIL STRIKE: The strike that paralyzed Exxon
Mobil's production in Nigeria officially ended on April 30.
An official with PENGASSAN, the union representing striking
workers, told Poloff that the two sides reached an agreement
that included a twenty percent pay hike and promises to
review expatriate hiring levels. While peaceful, the strike
was one of the most serious in recent years, shutting-in an
estimated 750,000 barrels of oil for almost a week.

21. (SBU) STATE OWNED OIL COMPANY REFORM: At a sidebar during
a recent conference on energy economics, a top official of a
major Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)
operating unit told EconOff that he believed the Yar'Adua
administration has lost its appetite for reform of the state
owned oil company. The official thought that the
administration had, like its predecessors, grown comfortable
with the ability to exert influence over the company. Those
second thoughts may be evidenced by delays in introducing
reform legislation.

22. (U) OIL AND GAS SECTOR REFORM: At the same conference, a
member of the National Energy Council sub-committee on NNPC
reform told the assembled group that a comprehensive oil and
gas sector reform bill would be introduced to the National
Assembly before the end of May.

23. (SBU) OILFIELD SERVICE INDUSTRY: An official with a local
oilfield service industry trade group told Econoff that local
content legislation has passed the Senate and is making its
way through the House of Representatives. When asked about
the capabilities of indigenous oilfield service companies, he
admitted local firms are not yet able to supply all the goods
and services at the levels required by the bill, but he
thought local companies would be able to "partner" with
foreign firms to find a work around solution. In a front
page article in a local daily, House members accused NNPC and
major oil companies of attempting to delay passage of the
legislation.

--------
SECURITY
--------

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24. (SBU) TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: Jennifer Ero, an anti-human
trafficking activist and founder of the Society for the
Empowerment of Young People, told PolOff on April 30 that
similarities in the victims' stories about their experiences
underscores the highly organized nature of human trafficking
in Nigeria. Ero described how victims are moved across
countries by trafficking syndicates, often through areas with
little or no infrastructure. Traffickers meet individual
victims moved along diverse travel routes, providing the
documents and logistics required to send them on the next leg
of their complicated journeys. Ero opined that the response
to such a highly organized crime must be just as highly
organized and cohesive. Currently, she sees a dysfunctional
response with little information flow among stakeholders,
including government agencies, NGOs and victims. Ero hopes
that educating young people to resist traffickers' attempts
to lure them abroad, while supporting legitimate
income-generating alternatives for potential and returning
victims will reduce the influence of traffickers.

25. (U) WEST AFRICAN CISSA CONFERENCE IN ABUJA: Nigerian
press reported that President Yar'Adua addressed the
Committee of Intelligence and Services of West Africa (CISSA)
conference in Abuja, urging attendees from West Africa to
find solutions to problems of cross-border smuggling, drug
and human trafficking, and terrorism. The President asked
attendees to establish a mechanism to ensure that
policymakers of West African countries are provided with
intelligence and security information to enable them to
respond to the threats in the region. Yar'Adua also stressed
the need for "global networking by intelligence and security
services to tackle the rising wave of international terrorism
and other asymmetric threats," and specifically, for regional
cooperation between intelligence and security services in
West Africa. Yar'Adua also praised Liberia, Sierra Leone,
and Cote d'Ivoire for their democratization efforts, which
Yar'Adua said, have helped stabilize the region.

---------------------
OTHER NOTEWORTHY NEWS
---------------------
26. (SBU) NIGERIAN ALIEN REGISTRATION PROCEDURES: During an
April 25 courtesy call on Consul General Blair, Assistant
Comptroller for Zone D, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS),
General E.C. Nnamdi expressed his desire for personal and
staff training similar to that he attended approximately
twenty years ago in the United States. He said the NIS would
appreciate more advance notification of deportees arriving at
the Lagos airport from the United States. The Consul General
assured him that the Consulate informs NIS of returning
deportees as soon it receives notification from the
Department of Homeland Security. She noted that that this is
an issue worldwide and not unique to Nigeria, but she would
ask the officer that normally liaisons with the U.S. Marshals
and the Department of Homeland Security to contact him. When
asked about Nigeria's Alien Registration card and the
procedures required for alien movement within the country,
Nnamdi explained that there are standard, federal procedures
country-wide. Resident aliens require an exit obtained at
the point of departure when leaving their state of residence.
The stamp costs 200 naira. Registration with a new state in
Nigeria is required only if the stay is longer than 21 days.
(Note: The Consul General, Consulate officers, and private
American citizens in Nigeria have been told various stories
regarding these procedures. End Note.)

27. (U) STATE COURTS HAVE HEAVIEST WORKLOAD: At an April 30
meeting with the Assistant Director of the Federal Ministry
of Justice, Lagos Liaison Office, C. Ibekwe told Legatt and
PolOff that the court system in Nigeria, loosely based on the
British and American models, sees most of its work at the
state level. The hierarchy of courts begins at the local
magistrate level, then the state level, then the federal
level, with appeal courts at the state and federal levels.
Family courts, mobile courts, and traditional courts also
comprise part of the justice system in Nigeria, but address
different issues. A person, she explained, may be charged
under civil and criminal law, depending on the nature of the

ABUJA 00000863 006 OF 006


act committed. In general, federal level laws tend to have
federal level enforcement agencies such as NAPTIP, NAFDAC,
EFCC, and ICPC.
SANDERS

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