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Cablegate: Nigeria: Lagos State Governor Briefs U/S Jeffery

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PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0324/01 2261051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131051Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0119
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9792
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0185
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 000324

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR FOR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR NFREEMAN, GBERTOLIN
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN, MSTUCKART, JEDWARDS
STATE PASS TDA FOR LFITTS, PMARINDOC FOR
3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
DOC FOR 3310/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS
DOC FOR USPTO-PAUL SALMON
DOJ FOR MARI-FLORE KOUAME
TREASURY FOR RHALL, DPETERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL EINV ENRG EFIN ELTN EAGR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LAGOS STATE GOVERNOR BRIEFS U/S JEFFERY
ON DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

1. (SBU) Summary: Under Secretary of State for Economic
Affairs Reuben Jeffery met July 25 with Lagos State Governor
Babatunde Fashola (Action Congress). Fashola briefed the U/S
on his efforts to develop Lagos State and was generally
optimistic about the progress of democracy in Nigeria.
Fashola is trying to improve infrastructure to attract
investment, partner with the private sector to increase
security on the waterways and in neighborhoods, and enhance
the education system by renovating schools and providing free
books. He also wants to increase electric power generation
capacity, but regulations requiring states to sell any
state-generated power to the national grid for distribution
limit the extent to which Lagos State can benefit from this
effort. He expressed exasperation World Bank loan
conditions, saying he would look elsewhere for project
financing, and encouraged the U.S. not to "look down" on
Africa, an attitude that did not help promote democracy. End
Summary.

Positive Outlook on Economy, Political Environment
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (SBU) In a July 25 meeting with Under Secretary of State
for Economic Affairs Reuben Jeffery, Lagos State Governor
Babatunde Fashola expressed optimism about Nigeria and the
Government of Nigeria (GON), saying the GON had adopted
critical reforms in the political, economic, and judicial
realms. Overall, he said he believed Nigerian democracy was
getting stronger as evidenced by the past nine years of
democratic governance and a smooth transition of power
following the 2007 election. While the system was not
perfect, he said, the country is learning, and Nigeria,s
judiciary had the largest and most robust group of judges and
lawyers in the region. The economy was getting stronger with
sustained growth, and investment was yielding a high rate of
return, he added.

3. (SBU) Fashola outlined how the Lagos State Government
(LASG) was contributing to the economic development of a
state that is home to one of the world,s mega-cities by
cooperating with the city of London to attract investment and
develop a "financial triangle" connecting the financial
centers in Lagos, London, and New York. LASG has begun an
infrastructure development project, including a Bus Rapid
Transit system, and the city was currently undergoing "major
reconstruction" after three decades of neglect, Fashola said.
One downside of LASG's ambitious development projects is
that they fuelled migration into the city which strained the
system even further, Fashola noted.

Private Sector to Co-finance Security Projects
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) The U/S thanked the Governor for his efforts to
address the safety and security of ConGen Lagos personnel.
Fashola noted that security in the city was a priority and
that he had increased patrols on the waterways. In addition,
LASG was launching a security trust fund, co-financed by the
private sector, to acquire additional patrol vehicles,
communication equipment, and information technology systems.
As part of the project, cameras will be installed around the
city for security, he reported, and LASG had signed an
agreement with U.S.-based Cisco Systems to develop a security
information data warehouse.

Going for Broke to Address Electric Power Issue
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Fashola said he had decided "to go for broke" to
address lack of electric power in the state. States can
generate power, he said, but any power generated had to be
sold to the GON and connected to the national grid precluding

LAGOS 00000324 002 OF 003


states from controlling its distribution. Fashola said he
believed the power sector needed to be deregulated but the
first step to addressing the power shortage would be to get
the pricing, safety, and quality standards right. While the
Federal Government was developing plans to address the issue,
he said, LASG had taken steps to encourage the establishment
of companies to manufacture cables, transformers, and other
equipment in order to be ready when the sector was on its
feet. Fashola also said he was assessing the feasibility of
establishing a nuclear power plant, although he admitted the
concept is still in its infancy.

Legislation Required to Actualize Development Plans
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) Governor Fashola believes development plans need to
be embodied in legislation so that they cannot be altered,
reneged on after change of political administrations or
altered on a whim. Legislation-based development plans will
limit discretion, force government to follow plans, and make
the court the arbiter when disputes arise, he said. Fashola
said he is rushing to complete an infrastructure master plan
to allow people to envision what Lagos State will look like
in ten years and to guide rational investment decisions. The
state is moving ahead with the Lekki Free Trade Zone.
U.S.-based AYR Logistics had just signed a concession
agreement to develop 1,000 hectares of the trade zone, he
told the Under Secretary.

Lagos to Promote Aquaculture, Meat Processing Industries
--------------------------------------------- -----------

7. (SBU) Governor Fashola noted the lack of available land
for farming and agriculture production in Lagos State, but
said Lagos State had a comparative advantage in aquaculture
which he planned to exploit. Fashola will zone the Eastern
axis of Lagos State to provide incentives for aquaculture and
meat processing industry development, in which he would
welcome U.S. investment.

Education Infrastructure Missing, Teachers Need Training
--------------------------------------------- -----------

8. (SBU) Fashola lamented the state of the education system
in the state. He said teachers needed additional training,
more schools were needed, and existing ones needed repair and
maintenance. School renovation should include the provision
of drinking water and construction of green areas, and
playgrounds. Funding remained a major challenge on these
projects, but Lagos State was committed to providing free
books for students; these books are currently under
production.

U.S. Should Not "Look Down" on Africa
-------------------------------------

9. (SBU) On democracy, the U.S. model must be assessed in
light of cultural differences, Fashola underscored. He
maintained that democracy meant nothing without food, water,
and power and chastised the United States for looking down on
Africa, he said. Such an attitude breeds mistrust and
without trust there is no basis for partnership.

Local Financing Schemes to Restore Trust in Government
--------------------------------------------- ---------

10. (SBU) Fashola complained of delays, red tape and
unreasonable conditions that plagued World Bank-financed
projects in Lagos. Projects financed by foreign assistance
sustained the notion that Nigeria's government do not work,
he said which is detrimental to democracy. As a result,
Fashola planned to look for alternative project-financing

LAGOS 00000324 003 OF 003


schemes for development in Lagos State.
BLAIR

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