Search

 

Cablegate: Nigeria: Bi-Weekly Pol/Econ Updates for May 1-15,

VZCZCXRO0098
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1023/01 1551530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031530Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3004
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 0254
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 9349
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 ABUJA 001023

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET ETRD KJUS KCOR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BI-WEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR MAY 1-15,
2008

1. (U) Following is a joint Embassy Abuja-ConGen Lagos
compilation of May 1-15, 2008 political/economic highlights,
which did not feature in our other reporting, covering:
-- Elections: Tribunals, Reforms, Re-runs
-- Corruption
-- Human Rights, TIP
-- National Assembly
-- Narcotics and Law Enforcement
-- Economic News
-- Agriculture
-- Oil and Gas
-- Security
-- Other Noteworthy News
.
Elections: Tribunals, Reforms, Re-runs
--------------------------------------
.
2. (SBU) OGUN HOUSE SPEAKER IMPEACHED: On May 15, the Ogun
State House of Assembly impeached House Speaker Titi Oseni
along with the Deputy House Speaker, accusing the two of
"incompetence" and "arrogance". Oseni complained the
impeachment broke House rules and she vowed to continue in
office. A Post contact told PolSpec that the impeachment
climaxed weeks of internal bickering by legislators over the
fate of the increasingly unpopular Speaker, whose highhanded
rule has been resented by lawmakers. State Governor Daniel
had tried to resolve the dispute between the Speaker and
legislators, angry at what they considered the Speaker's high
handed rule in office, but was unsuccessful.
.
Corruption
----------
.
3. (U) BILL TO CREATE SPECIAL FINANCIAL CRIMES COURT: Senator
Simeon Oduoye (Peoples Democratic Party, Osun State)
introduced a bill with the National Assembly on May
13 to create a special court to hear financial crimes and
corruption cases. Oduoye told Poloffs the bill aims to
address concerns of the EFCC and ICPC by reducing the time to
prosecute cases through the courts and providing a cadre of
technically competent judges. Oduoye maintains he has the
support of the EFCC, ICPC and Chief Justice Kutigi in moving
the bill forward. Should he not be successful at
establishing a special court, Oduoye says he will propose
establishment of a special division for financial crimes
within the federal high court system. Support for his bill
among Senate members is mixed.

4. (U) COORDINATOR AND DEPUTY OF POLICE EQUIPMENT FUND
ARRESTED: National Coordinator of the Police Equipment Fund
(PEF) Kenny Martins (former President Obasanjo's
brother-in-law by a former marriage) and his Deputy Ibrahim
Dumuje were arrested on May 5 for forgery and conspiracy to
commit fraud. The court case is expected to begin on June 4.
Martins is accused of misappropriation of approximately $415
million in PEF funds during his two plus years as Coordinator
of the fund.
.
Human Rights, TIP
-----------------
.
5. (U) EBONYI COMMUNAL CLASH: Local press reports one person
killed and several injured in a communal clash between
neighboring Ezillo and Ezza ethnic groups in Ebonyi State on
May 10. Approximately 200 houses, stores and properties were
burned. The clash reportedly erupted out of a dispute over
an Ezillo man's plans to build a telephone booth on land
claimed by the Ezza people. Anti-riot police and military
were dispersed to the area to keep peace late in the
afternoon of May 10.

6. (U) TIP STATISTICS ANNOUNCED: Nigeria's National
Association for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons
(NAPTIP) announced at its annual stakeholder meeting May 14
that the agency handled 587 cases of human trafficking for
"sexual exploitation and child abuse" between October 2007
and May 2008. The Agency's director of investigations,

ABUJA 00001023 002 OF 005


Muhammad Babandede, also revealed that 10 traffickers had
been convicted during the same period. .
National Assembly
-----------------
.
7. (U) FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL: The Freedom of
Information bill was again rejected in the House of Assembly
on April 29. Despite requests by the Deputy Speaker, Bayero
Usman Nafada, to stall the vote, supporters in the House put
forward the motion to hold the vote; the bill was rejected by
voice vote. Supporters of the bill maintain it is the fear
of exposure of past misdeeds that caused the rejection;
however, several of those voting against the bill noted that
the bill's sponsor was not in the country at the time of the
vote. The Senate announced on May 13 that it intends to hold
a public hearing on the bill in early June 2008. The
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media
Ayogu Eze told PolOff that the Freedom of Information bill
"will certainly pass" in the Senate, after public hearings
scheduled for early June. Senator Eze maintained that
consideration of the bill in the House was delayed due to the
absence of its principal sponsor, Abike Dabiri, and not
because of any reluctance or opposition in the Assembly to
the legislation, which some contend will lift the veil on
questionable government dealings and activities of public
officials.

8. (SBU) BAKASSI UPDATE: Prince Bola Ajibola, head of the
Nigerian delegation to the Nigerian-Cameroonian Joint
Commission on the Bakassi, briefed members of the House of
Representatives May 14 about the historical background of the
Bakassi, World Court judgment against Nigeria, and the
Greentree agreement. The GON is hoping to appease
lawmakers' concerns and encourage them to belatedly ratify
the treaty which ceded the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon in
2006. On May 12, Nigerian television news featured a
groundbreaking ceremony for a 200-unit housing development in
Cross River state to accommodate resettled people from the
Bakassi. Florence Ita-Giwa, the President's Special
Assistant for Legislative Affairs and a Bakassi local, was
visibly unhappy and complained to the cameras that the
problems of the Bakassi people go beyond housing. She noted
that the former residents have been denied the right to their
farmlands, fishing (their primary source of income), and the
right to actively participate in politics. On May 20 the
Ambassador met with UN Special Advisor on Bakassi issues,
Said Djinnit, to hear his brief on challenges with the GON on
this issue. He stressed that GON National Assembly members
were misguided on their interpretation of the issues, as
Bakassi; was not a treaty and did not need acceding to by
Nigerian Senators. He added that he found a better
understanding among members of the executive branch on the
issue and that he was hopeful things would move forward when
he returned in July. Ambassador suggested that Djinnit reach
out to members of the Senate to brief them on the differences
and nuances on the Greentree Agreement as a way to try to
remove the politics from the issues so that they are better
informed about Nigerian obligations under the Agreement.
Djinnit took this on board and mused he would set up a round
of talks with GON Senators. (Comment: Though some members of
the NASS continue to grumble about the Greentree agreement,
we believe that there is no serious threat of Nigeria going
back on the deal. However, the GON may need to do more to
appease resettled Bakassi people, both economically and
politically. Most observers also agree that the
Constitution, which explicitly refers to Bakassi as a part of
Nigeria, needs to be amended. End Comment.)
.
Narcotics and Law Enforcement
----------------------------
.
9. (U) USG SUPPLIED BODY SCANNERS STOP DRUG COURIERS: Since
the March 27 installation of USG funded body scanners in
Abuja and Kano airports, over eleven kilograms of
cocaine have been seized from individuals attempting to
smuggle drugs onto planes. The Soter RS scanners provided by
INL to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

ABUJA 00001023 003 OF 005


are designed to detect all foreign materials on or inside the
human body, and have led to the arrest of 22 men and three
women to date. The detained drug "mules" attempted
to traffic cocaine concealed in undergarments and various
body cavities, including packets of drugs swallowed in an
attempt to avoid detection. Similar machines in the Lagos
and Port Harcourt airports are to be operational by the first
week in June. Newer, updated "itemizers" that detect trace
amounts of explosives and illegal narcotics should be
installed by the end of June in all four international
airports, replacing older models which will be refurbished
for backup use. INL is in the process of scheduling
additional training for all personnel who will operate the
new machines.
.
Economic News
-------------
.
10. (SBU) WHY SO MANY EMPTY PETROL STATIONS?: U.S. Mission
road travelers to northern Nigeria have recently noticed that
there seem to be many newly-built petrol stations, most of
which are standing idle and never seem to have any fuel.
These fuel stations are often clustered together on the
outskirts of towns and villages, and this clustering seems
odd given that the price of fuel is regulated by government,
so (in theory) stations cannot compete with one another on
price. A northern business contact recently remarked to
Poloff that if a Nigerian wants to obtain a license to buy
wholesale quantities of fuel, he must first prove to the
government that he operates one or more petrol stations.
However, once that license is obtained, many businessmen
choose to sell their fuel on the black market (at far greater
profit) and leave their official fuel station sitting idle.

11. (U) NATIONAL WAR COLLEGE STUDENTS VISIT COMMERCE, FINANCE
MINISTRIES: A delegation from the U.S. National War College
met with officials of the Ministry of Commerce
and Industry and Finance on May 13. Ministry of Commerce and
Industry Trade Director Badeji Abiokoye briefed the
delegation on ongoing initiatives including the cassava
initiative aimed at expanding cassava yield and exporting its
derivatives and the enterprise zone initiative aimed at
bringing small businesses together in clusters to reduce
their operational costs and achieve economies of scale. At
the Ministry of Finance, Budget Director Dr. Bright Okogu,
told the delegation that the GON is considering using more
Public-Private Partnership frameworks to implement
infrastructure projects rather than funding such projects
from the annual budget.
.
Agriculture
-----------
.
12. (U) AG MINISTER APPOINTS NEW SECURITY TEAM ON FOOD
PRICES: The Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources
(MINAG) appointed a seven member food security team to work
jointly with international donor organizations to address
rising food prices. Following the creation of the food
security team, in a May 13 meeting between donors and the
GON, a subcommittee was established to work with the GON food
security team to develop a Donor/GON Food Security Response
Plan. The Plan's goal is to identify short, medium, and long
term strategies.

13. (U) At the same donor/GON meeting on May 13, the GON
representative outlined the MINAG's planned response to
rising food prices:-- Releasing 65,000 metric tons (mt) of
assorted grains from the Federal National Strategic Reserve.
-- Purchasing and delivering 650,000 mt of fertilizers to the
states.
-- Releasing funds to complete 25 silos to increase storage
capacity.
-- Encouraging state governments to increase grain reserves
to 10 percent of grain harvested
-- Promoting the establishment of fertilizer manufacturing
plants and expansion of the national gas grid to power the
plants.

ABUJA 00001023 004 OF 005


-- Proposing the immediate sale of 1,000 government owned
farm tractors.
-- Advocating that Nigerians should eat what they grow.
-- Consideration of a plan to close Nigeria's border to
prevent food exportation if the current situation worsens.
.
Oil and Gas
-----------
.
14. (U) ANOTHER DEADLY PIPELINE EXPLOSION: Estimates of the
dead ranged from 50 to 100 people, with hundreds others
injured, in a gasoline pipeline explosion on May 14 in the
Ijegun area of Lagos State. The Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC) said a bulldozer clearing land for a new
road ruptured the pipeline and a spark caused the
gasoline to ignite. NNPC officials accused state road
workers of failing to adequately survey the land on which
they were working and said encroachment on NNPC pipeline
property by squatters contributed to the high death toll. A
contact with a local trade union confirmed NNPC's version of
events. While previous pipeline explosions have
been blamed on local residents breaking lines to steal
refined petroleum, this case appears to be the result of an
accident, albeit an entirely preventable one.

15. (SBU) OIL PRODUCTION CONTINUES ITS SLOW DECLINE: The
Central Bank of Nigeria announced April's oil production
averaged 1.81 million barrels per day, down from 2.2
million barrels in January. April was an unusually tough
month, even by Nigerian standards, for oil production, with
several attacks on Shell facilities and a strike by
ExxonMobil workers taking almost half of Nigeria's daily
production off-line in the last week of April. A Chevron
contact told Lagos Consul General that he expected a big
boost in production numbers when Chevron's Agbami offshore
facility begins operation in July, although he said it would
take "some time" for the facility to reach its full
capacity of 250,000 barrels per day. (Comment: Shifting
production from onshore to deep offshore is a mixed blessing
for the Government of Nigeria. On the one hand, deep
offshore platforms are generally safer from attack than
facilities in the Niger Delta swamp and the boost to oil
output will forestall a possible move by OPEC to further cut
Nigeria's production quota. On the other hand, the
government's initial receipts from offshore oil production
are lower because of the structure of the related contracts.
End Comment.)

16. (U) OGONI SEEK SOLUTIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: A
member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
(MOSOP) told Poloff on May 13 that the Ogoni people
(through MOSOP) are working with the UNEP to identify ways
forward in securing the clean up of Ogoniland in Rivers
State. However, he noted the GON has yet to get on board.
.
Security
--------
.
17. (SBU) KIDNAPPINGS OF LEBANESE, SYRIAN, CHINESE IN NIGER
DELTA: A human rights contact told Poloff on May 19 that two
Lebanese nationals were kidnapped on May 18 around 2:30 PM
near the Port Harcourt/Owerri road in Ubioma, Rivers State.
Nigerian press reported that two Lebanese nationals and a
Syrian were kidnapped. All reportedly work for JMS
Construction Company in Rivers State. According to Lagos
Regional Security Officer (RSO) sources, two Chinese
businessmen were kidnapped May 6 from the Chinese
Construction Civil Engineering Company in Akampka, Cross
River State. RSO sources suggested this was a "localized
problem" and a 300 million naira ransom demand was reportedly
made. The hostages were released on May 9. However,
Ambassador was told by several high-placed Lagos businessmen
there that the Chinese President called President Yar'Adua
regarding the issue and that the Chinese government was very
much "involved" in the means needed for the businessmen to be
released.
.

ABUJA 00001023 005 OF 005


Other Noteworthy News
---------------------
.
18. (U) NIGERIAN TURKISH COLLEGES CELEBRATE 10 YEAR
ANNIVERSARY: Nigerian Turkish International Colleges will
mark their 10-year anniversary in Nigeria on May 24. The
colleges, which provide high-quality primary and secondary
instruction to the children of Nigeria's elite, are located
in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, and Kano. The curriculum
emphasizes math and science, and Islamic studies. All
courses are taught in English, though teachers for all
courses are Turkish. Following graduation from these elite
schools, students can pursue higher education at discounted
rates at Turkish universities. The ideological architect of
Nigerian Turkish International College, which is part of a
global collection of schools in 80 countries, is Fethullah
Gulen, an Islamic scholar who was exiled to the U.S. for his
criticism of the Turkish overnment's restrictions on Islamic
practice in Turkey. In addition to funds raised through
steep admissions fees, the Colleges are funded by private
donations from Turkish businessmen.
SANDERS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC