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Cablegate: Nigeria: Bi-Weekly Pol/Econ Updates for July 17-31, 2008

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RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
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R 110919Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3627
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0329
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001584

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR-AGAMA
DOE FOR GPERSON, CHAYLOCK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET EFIN MOPS PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BI-WEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR JULY 17-31, 2008

REF: A. ABUJA 1482

1. (U) The Following is a joint Embassy Abuja, ConGen Lagos
compilation of July 17-31 political/economic highlights, which did
not feature in our other reporting, covering:

--National Assembly
--Pol/Mil
--PDP Politics
--Economic and Business
--Oil and Gas

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
-----------------

2. (SBU) July 24, PolOff provided Congressman Farouk Lawan
(PDP-Bagwai/Shanono, Kano Sate) Chairman of the House Committee on
Education and leader of the Integrity Group in the House of
Representatives, per his request, a copy of S.B. 128, the
counterterrorism (CT) bill introduced July 8 in the Nigerian Senate.
Congressman Lawan was pleased to hear that the bill was essentially
a verbatim copy of the Commonwealth "Model Legislative Provisions on
Measures to Combat Terrorism," was co-sponsored by four Northern
Senators (including Sen. Bala Mohammed, Secretary of the Northern
Senator's Forum), and contained none of the provisions granting
broad powers to the President which generated opposition to the 2006
CT legislation. (Note: Opposition from northern Senators was said
to be one of the primary reasons for the 2006 bill's demise. End
note.) Lawan commented that the House should get started working on
the bill since it was already being considered in the Senate. He
further stated that vis-a-vis the U.S. and U.K. "We should not have
the most lenient sentences for these offenses, but somewhere in the
middle," in response to past criticism of the previous legislation.

3. (U) The House of Representatives went out of session August 1,
joining the Senate which is already on recess. Prior to adjourning
for the summer recess, House Speaker Dimeji Bankole announced the
dissolution of all but three House Committees. The Committees on
Business and Rules, Finance, and Appropriations remain as previously
constituted. Bankole plans to announce the new composition of the
committees when the House reconvenes. Both the House and Senate
will reconvene September 9.

POL/MIL
-------

4. (SBU) Africa Command Commander General William E. "Kip" Ward
visited Nigeria from July 21-23 to meet with senior Nigerian
military officials, Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) Commissioners and staff, and representatives of regional
governments and military forces to discuss mutual defense
cooperation and capacity building efforts. General Ward also
reviewed troops participating in the Africa Endeavor 2008 exercise
of regional partner militaries during closing ceremonies held in
Abuja.

PDP POLITICS
------------

5. (U) It was announced that the National Executive Committee of the
People's Democratic Party (PDP) will meet Tuesday August 5 to
discuss the position of former President Obasanjo as Chairman of the
Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party. The meeting, originally
scheduled for July 11, is the first under new PDP National Chairman
Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, and promises to be contentious. Top of
the agenda is a review of Article 12:77 of the party's 2006 amended
constitution, which reserves to Obasanjo the near-exclusive right to
serve as BOT Chairman, being the only former president elected on
the party's platform. The PDP Reconciliation Committee led by Dr.
Alex Ekwueme, to entice founding PDP members back to the party, has
recommended that the article be changed back to what party bylaws
mandated prior to the 2006 amendment to allow for somebody other
than a former PDP president to occupy the position as BOT Chair.

ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS
---------------------

6. (U) NIGERIA GARMENT EXPORT TO THE U.S. UNDER AGOA: The Ambassador
and Minister of Commerce and Industry, Charles Ugwu attended an
event launching Nigeria's first set of exported garments to the U.S.

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under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) on July 17 in
Lagos. The Human Capital Development Center from Lagos produced the
garments. The Ambassador underscored the importance the USG "places
not only on the existing business linkages between our two nations
but also on creating new ones like this one under our framework for
partnership with Nigeria."

7. (U) DUNLOP ENDS TIRE PRODUCTION: Dunlop announced plans to close
down its tire production facilities after 45 years of operation
because of chronic lack of electricity and the GON's inconsistent
tariff policies, which made the venture unprofitable. Dunlop was
involved in the production of car, van, and truck tires.

8. (U) THAILAND CONSORTIUM TO INVEST IN NIGERIAN ENERGY SECTOR: On
July 21 the media reported that a consortium of Thailand companies
will invest $2 billion in the Nigeria's energy sector, targeting
mostly power sector, gas, petrochemical and agriculture. The GON has
yet to approve the proposal. The consortium plans to set up a
petrochemical company in Brass, build fertilizer plan in Delta State
and three new power plants in Ajaokuta, Abuja and Kano that will
generate 100 megawatts of electricity.

9. (U) PRESIDENT PROMISES TO ERADICATE POLIO: At a Rotary Foundation
event on July 24 President Umaru Yar'Adua promised to eradicate the
polio virus in Nigeria. At this same event the Foundation presented
the Polio Eradication Champion Award to President Yar'Adua and the
President commented that "The award has given me a great
responsibility to do everything humanly possible to ensure that
polio is finally and totally eradicated from Nigeria."

10. (U) NIGERIA IMPORTS 700,000 METRIC TONS OF FROZEN FISH ANNUALLY:
At the inauguration of the "Aquaculture Best" journal on July 29 in
Lagos, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Sayyadi
Ruma, reported that the country imports 700,000 metric tons (mt) of
frozen fish annually - making it the largest importer of frozen fish
in Africa. He noted that in 2007, Nigerians spent 50 billion naira
($425 million) on frozen fish imports despite Nigeria's more than
500 miles of coastline.

11. (U) INVESTIGATION INTO THE BUDGET OF THE MINISTRY OF
AGRICULTURE: During July 22 Senate hearings on the food crisis, the
Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the Director General
(DG) of the Budget and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water
resources failed to agree on the actual budget released to the
ministry in the last nine years. The AGF claimed 585.4 billion
naira ($4.9 billion) while the Budget DG contended 611.6 billion
naira ($5.2 billion). The Senate reported that it will continue
investigative hearings.

12. (U) OUTREACH TO WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS: Lagos Consul General Donna
Blair hosted a reception for Vital Voices Global Partnership and
emerging Lagosian women leaders, business owners, and artists on
July 28. Vital Voices grew out of the USG's Vital Voices Democracy
Initiative, which was established after the United Nations Fourth
World Conference on Women in Beijing to promote the advancement of
women as a U.S. foreign policy goal. Alumni of State Department
exchanges among the group recalled how their participation had
changed their perceptions of both the U.S. and what they could
achieve in their own country. Consul General Blair praised Vital
Voices for the work they have done in Nigeria, including
identifying, training, and empowering emerging women leaders and
social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a
better world, through building women business leaders, catalyzing
successful entrepreneurship, and combating human rights violations
that are affecting women in Nigeria.

13. (U) FIBER OPTIC CABLES TO CONNECT WEST AFRICA WITH U.K. AND
U.S.: On July 28, local news media reported that Globacom, Nigeria's
second national operator for the fixed line telecom market, is
laying 9,500 kilometer of submarine fiber optic cables, connecting
London with 14 West African countries and the United States. The
project is expected to reach Ghana by May 2009, and be linked to
Nigeria shortly after. Bob Otto, Director of U.S.-based consulting
firm CARANA, told EconOff on July 21 that the new submarine fiber
optic cables would change the game plan for the provision of telecom
services in Nigeria by reducing service prices tremendously.

OIL AND GAS
-----------


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14. (U) Oil production began on July 29 from Chevron's deep offshore
Agbami oilfield. The floating production storage and offload
facility in the Agbami field is currently producing 100,000 barrels
of crude oil per day with production expected to rise to 250,000
barrels per day of oil and natural gas liquids by the end of 2009.
Chevron estimates the Agbami field holds 900 million barrels of
recoverable oil reserves. Chevron is the majority operating partner
with Norway's Statoil and Brazil's Petrobras holding minority
interests.

PIASCIK

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