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Cablegate: Nigeria: Codel Johnson Visits Abuja

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DE RUEHUJA #1929/01 2741423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301423Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4054
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0391
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001929

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: CODEL JOHNSON VISITS ABUJA

1. (U) SUMMARY: A Congressional Delegation, led by Congressman Hank
Johnson and including Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, visited Abuja on
August 19. The Codel discussed bilateral relations, mutual security
issues, foreign investment and future cooperation between the GON
and USG with members of Nigeria's House of Representatives, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Intelligence Agency, and
the Ministry of Defense. END SUMMARY.

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
---------------------------
2. (U) Codel first met with Ambassador E.E. Onobu, the Director for
International Organizations, and Director for North American Affairs
Charles Onianwa, to discuss mutual security issues, economic
development, increased transparency to promote more foreign direct
investment and ways to "reaffirm and re-energize" our bilateral
relations. Representative Johnson expressed particular thanks and
appreciation for Nigeria's contributions to, and leadership in, UN
peacekeeping operations around the world. Additionally, Congressman
Johnson raised the issues of a more equitable distribution of oil
revenues among the country's population and developing a climate to
attract foreign investment. In return, Ambassador Onobu shared
gratitude for USG assistance and said that the GON does its best to
make the most of that support. Regarding impediments to increased
foreign investment, Ambassador Onobu noted that there can be no
progress until there is a "level of sanity in the environmental,
financial and political sectors," and the starting point was
"credible state institutions that deliver programs in a transparent
manner."

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
------------------------
3. (U) Honorable Umar Bature, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on
Defense and Honorable Bassey Otu, Member of the House Committee on
Defense explained to the Codel the internal and external challenges
faced by the GON. Bature noted that the violence in the Niger Delta
was one such challenge. He mentioned the House is currently looking
at legislation to make social responsibility mandatory for both the
GON and the international companies doing business in the Niger
Delta, in hopes of assuaging the discontent of the citizens in the
region. Congressman Johnson expressed concern about instability in
Nigeria and its effect on foreign investment. Representative
Schmidt echoed that concern, noting Procter & Gamble, a U.S. company
headquartered in the Congresswoman's district, was interested in
investing in Nigeria, but had reservations due to the security
situation. Bature, lamenting the deficiencies in the Nigerian
military, complained that the GON's inability to purchase spare
C-130 airplane parts from the USG was one of their external
challenges. (NOTE: This, however, is not the case. The USG has
offered the GON C-130 parts worth approximately $2 million.
However, after many meetings, letters, and conversations with
Defense Headquarters and the Ministry of Defense, outlining the
steps the GON needs to take to effectuate the transfer of the parts,
Post is still waiting for a response on how/where specifically to
ship them. END NOTE.) Congressman Johnson recognized the Nigerian
military's contribution to stability in Africa, but added that to
establish a more cooperative relationship, the GON needed to be
"honest and forthcoming" with information, to which Bature responded
with assurances of the GON's willingness to share information.
Bature concluded by emphasizing the importance of a strong military
in maintaining a successful democracy, and the significant role
Nigeria could play as the key USG partner in Africa.

MINISTRY OF DEFENSE
-------------------
4. (U) Representatives Johnson and Schmidt met General O. A. Azazi,
Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), and senior officers from each of the
Armed Services, at the Defense Headquarters on August 19.
Congressman Johnson highlighted Africa's emerging importance, before
the discussion turned toward Africa Command (AFRICOM). The CDS
stated that the Nigerian military understood AFRICOM well; however,
the U.S. needed to convince the political levels of the GON of its
importance. In response to CDS' statement that African countries
would be supportive of a regionally-structured command, which was
proposed in one version of AFRICOM's future construct, Congressman
Johnson said the location of the headquarters or any possible
regional centers was not a concern at this time. Congressman
Johnson also relayed what he said were the legitimate concerns of
some U.S. Representatives regarding Nigerian use of "hard power
against civilians," as well as suspicion of some government
officials' sanctioning of and/or involvement in "illegal activity."
In response, General Azazi commented on the Nigerian military's

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longstanding fight against armed militants, but noted that the
essential fight was actually about protecting Nigeria's resources.
Further discussion on government sanctioning of illegal activity
moved beyond the military's realm into larger government issues,
particularly regarding the EFCC, he said.

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
----------------------------
5. (U) Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
Ambassador Tony Imohe discussed mutual security issues, intelligence
sharing, as well as perceptions and misunderstandings regarding the
new Africa Command (AFRICOM), with the Codel. Mr. Johnson thanked
the Director-General for his country's assistance in
counterterrorism matters. Congresswoman Schmidt underscored the
development and stability goals of AFRICOM. Ambassador Imohe noted
that while the GON had not misunderstood U.S. intentions, in his
estimation, there had not been sufficient consultations between the
two governments prior to the announcement of its establishment. At
the end of the meeting, the delegation brought up the pending USG
request for U.S. Air Marshals on Delta's direct flights from Atlanta
to Lagos, given the airline's headquarters in Congressman Johnson's
district and its and extensive operations in Rep. Schmidt's.
Ambassador Imohe promised to speak to National Security Adviser
General Mukhtar about the matter. (NOTE: The Ministry of
Transportation approved the request for U.S. Air Marshals to travel
on flights between the U.S. and Nigeria in December 2007, but
forwarded the request to the NSA, stating that NSA needed to sign
off before actual implementation. Ambassador followed up with a
letter to NSA Advisor Mukhtar on May 2, 2008; but no response has
been received to date. END NOTE.) Imohe also commented that he was
positively impressed by the amicable bipartisan nature of the
delegation, and noted that it served as a positive example for
Nigerian legislators to emulate.

6. (U) Codel members cleared this message.

SANDERS

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