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Cablegate: Nigeria: Southeast Governors Claim Improved

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DE RUEHOS #0198/01 1581234
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061234Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9931
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9640
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0133
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEOMFD/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS LAGOS 000198

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USAID FOR NFREEMAN, GBERTOLIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SOUTHEAST GOVERNORS CLAIM IMPROVED
INFRASTRUCTURE, EDUCATION

1. (SBU) Summary: Anambra State Governor Peter Obi told Poloffs April
12 that paved roads and the absence of teacher strikes were among his
most important accomplishments; both were achieved despite wrangling
with the State legislature and the persistent attempts by former
Presidential Advisor Andy Uba to wrest control from Obi. Ebonyi State
Governor Martin Elechi on April 14 said he prides himself on
rehabilitation of boarding schools currently educating 5,400 students,
on new water treatment facilities and on the construction of bridges
that link farmers with markets. Both governors have introduced
government or fiscal responsibility bills. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Anambra: Persistent Political Wrangling Plagues Obi
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) On April 12, Governor Peter Obi (All Progressives Grand
Alliance, APGA) of Anambra State told PolOffs that his administration
had achieved significant accomplishments in all sectors, despite
Anambra's ranking as one of the poorest states in the country and the
persistent attempts by former Presidential Advisor Andy Uba to wrest
control of the state away from Obi. The Governor has submitted to the
state legislature an executive bill on government procurement, of which
he is proud. State schools held a full term with no teacher strikes, a
achievement Obi credited to his administration's diligence in paying
teacher salaries on time. In terms of infrastructure, the Commissioner
for Works told PolOffs that 250 km of road and drainage had been
completed in Obi's term, and an additional 420 km are under
construction. Governor Obi also noted that the Nigerian Stock Exchange
the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Corporate Affairs Commision
the Consumer Protection Counsel and the Central Bank had all opened
offices in Awka. Housing remains limited in Anambra due to a lack of
funding for the Housing Development Corporation and the lack of
available mortgages. As a result, people tend to live in Enugu (a
neighboring state) and commute to work in Anambra, the Commissioner
claimed. (Note: Enugu contacts claimed their state's better
security environment also attracts residents. End Note.)

3. (SBU) Obi, whose educational background lies in baning, told PolOff
that he attended Northwestern for his undergraduate and graduate
degrees, and took additional courses at Columbia and Harvard. He
decided to run for governor while walking with the Northwestern Dean
along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Dean convinced him that he
needed to contribute to the public good, and that he had the requisite
skills to do so, Obi reminisced.

4. (SBU) However, at a meeting the same day of PolOffs' visit, local
journalists criticized Obi's budget proposal, noting the large
disparity between it and the legislature's proposed budget and his
perceived lack of interest in relationship-building with the People's
Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled legislature. (Comment: Obi is
notoriously tight-fisted with state funds, while the legislature
reflects the interests of civil servants, for whom bigger budgets mean
more available resources. End Comment.) Anambra has not held local
government elections in nine years. Though all seated officials' tenure
expired in 2003, the electoral commission's composition has been too
contentious to resolve, the journalists said.

--------------------------------------------- --
Ebonyi's Mild-Mannered Elechi Focuses on Growth
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (SBU) In a meeting April 14, the soft-spoken Governor Martin Elechi
(PDP) explained to PolOffs that he finds himself dealing with
bureaucrats and legislators who neither understand the need for a
budget, nor for due process, and must simultaneously educate and
cooperate with them. The Governor's office requires a great deal of
personal initiative and flexibility, Elechi claimed, describing the job
as requiring continual compromise. He fretted that the federal
government dictates what should be done, leaving governors little room
to carry out their own ideas. After the federal government passed the
fiscal responsibility bill, he said, the President asked the states to
pass one as well. He revised the language of the federal bill and sent
it to the State Assembly.

6. (SBU) Elechi laid out four main areas of focus for his
administration: infrastructure, security, education and industry. Ebony
is the first state in Nigeria to hold peaceful and successful local
government elections since May 2007, in large part due to his reforms o

the local government administration mechanism, he claimed. In
educational reforms, Elechi has advocated a return to boarding schools,
and has thus far renovated two such facilities in each of the 13 local
government areas (LGAs), plus an additional one for girls in the larges
LGA, educating 5,400 students. The current water works that supply the
state are working at around 25% capacity. The State has contracted wit
a Chinese company to refurbish the facility. Elechi is also developing
two additional water treatment systems which will treat 100 million
liters of water a day through an Israeli company. Elechi also claimed
to have facilitated the construction of "roads and bridges of unity"
across local rivers, to facilitate access by farmers to markets;
nineteen have been planned and the N 23.4 billion (USD 200 million)
contract for their construction was signed in February, he said. In
order to provide a consistent supply of electrical power, he is
exploring electricity generated from biomass to supplement what Ebonyi
receives from the national grid. Finally, Elechi discussed his concept
of relocating the state capital of Abakaliki to a site adjacent to the
current city, for a clean start based on well-planned, modern
infrastructure. For example, he stated, rock crushing operations
currently located in town will be moved to an area further away to
reduce pollution.

7. (SBU) Comment: PolOffs and Consulate drivers can vouch for the
improvements in Anambra's roads, but other claims by both Governors
remain unverified; assessing these Governors' claims will be a priority
for upcoming trips to the region. End Comment.
HUDSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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