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Cablegate: Political Maneuvering Delays Decision On Pick For

VZCZCXRO8216
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1898 2661217
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221217Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4011
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0383
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9970
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0368
RUEAHQA/AFRICA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001898

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR GEORGE PERSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PM KDEM NI
SUBJECT: POLITICAL MANEUVERING DELAYS DECISION ON PICK FOR
NIGER DELTA MINISTER

Classified By: Amb. Robin Renee Sanders for reasons 1.4. (b & d).

1. (C) Governor of Bayelsa State, Timpre Silva, told
Ambassador September 17 that the position of the Niger Delta
(ND) Minister, in the recently created ND Ministry, is
causing a lot of political jockeying. The ND Ministry was
created recently by ailing President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as
part of his first steps in reorganizing and reshuffling his
government, upon returning from medical treatment in Saudi
Arabia in early September. Reports were that the final
touches are being put on the cabinet reshuffle with
announcements scheduled for late the week of September 22.
Silva said in principle he and the other two governors in the
conflict-prone core ND States are pleased with the elevation
of ND issues to the level of a Ministry as it will force
sustained federal level attention on the ND issues, and he
hopes it will better coordinate resources as well as policy.
"The new proposed Ministry gives us a level of regular and
organized access to the President and other Ministers that we
have not had before," he said. "The is the first time in
history," Silva said, " that the Niger Delta, through an
empowered Minister, will have a seat at Federal Executive
Council (FEC) meetings (which are Nigeria's cabinet
meetings).8

2. (C) The Ambassador asked Silva if he knew who the
potential new ND Minister might be; for instance, would it be
him or another current or former governor from the area?
Silva said clearly he was not interested in the position as
he was committed to seeing the development of his state
through, but added he was very interested -- as is River
Governor Amaechi -- in getting not only someone he knew well
on seat, but his "own person" on seat, which he noted that he
did not want to elaborate on because discussions were so
delicate at this stage and neither he nor the other Governors
wanted to show their hands. He added that the political
decision of who gets the position is causing a lot of
"political jockeying" in Abuja and elsewhere, as many are
beginning to see this as a resource-rich Ministry,
particularly if the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
gets subsumed under the new Niger Delta Ministry as is being
planned. Silva opined that he thought that the delay in
announcing the new cabinet overall was in part linked to the
struggles over who will be the first ND Minister.

3. (C) Comment. We anticipate that the Nigerian Government
will come to closure on the new cabinet by the end of week of
September 22. Tensions remain high more in Abuja, Lagos, ND
states, the North and certain parts of the south, than they
do in the rest of the country, such as the west and the east.
In checking on how Federal issues, the pending cabinet
reshuffle, and the ND fit as a priority with Eastern
Governors in a recent trip to the region by Ambassador, those
Governors are very much state-only focused and seemed less
concerned about the goings-on in Abuja. We know that
Presidential Special Economic Advisor Yakubu and new
Secretary to the Federal Government Mahmud Yayale Ahmed are
playing key roles in either driving or assisting Yar'Adua in
making decisions on the new ministers. We further understand
that Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki, who is head of the
Governor's Forum, also has influence on these decisions, and
Ambassador will be seeing him to sound him out on these
issues and to see how the Northerners may or may not be
organizing themselves during this very delicate period in
Nigeria. End Comment.
SANDERS

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