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Cablegate: Nigeria: Bayelsa State Moves On Government

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OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0364/01 2600733
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O 160733Z SEP 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0164
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000364

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

DOE FOR GPERSON,CHAYLOCK
TREASURY FOR DFIELDS, AIERONIMO, RHALL
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
DOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS
STATE PASS USTR FOR USTR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BAYELSA STATE MOVES ON GOVERNMENT
TRANSPARENCY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

REF: A. LAGOS 328
B. ABUJA 1600

1. (SBU) Summary: Dimieri Von Kemedi, Head of the Due Process
and eGovernance Bureau for Bayelsa State told Poloffs in
conversations on June 11, July 12 and August 1 that during
Governor Timipre Sylva's (People's Democratic Party) first
year in office his Bureau has taken concrete steps to ensure
transparency and promote sustainable development.
Accomplishments include establishing a government procurement
office with trained personnel; eGovernance functions for
budget, procurement, human resources and project management;
a State Strategy for Sustainable Development, and a Budget
Expenditure and Transparency Board which includes members of
civil society. In addition, according to Kemedi, Bayelsa
state plans to seek a Standard and Poors rating, upgrade
state accounting standards, and ensure reliable electrical
power in order to attract international investment. End
Summary.

Progress toward Transparency and Accountability
--------------------------------------------- --
2. (SBU) The Government Procurement office, a unit of the Due
Process and eGovernance Bureau which Kemedi heads, is now
staffed and operating. Earlier in the year, Kemedi arranged
for several top staff members to undergo in-depth training in
government procurement processes in the U.K. The eGovernance
office of the Bureau is also well underway, Kemedi said. The
eGovernance function will allow greater management of
government transactions and will allow officials to see the
status of funds in various accounts at any given time. In
February, Bayelsa requested bids for eGovernance
infrastructure, hardware and installation, network
engineering, and applications including e-procurement, human
resources, and project management. Experts from Australia
and the U.K. evaluated the bids, and a professional system
with roots in Nigeria costing Naira 900 million was selected.
Kemedi stressed that this was a Nigerian solution, not
something imposed by the World Bank or foreign donors.

3. (SBU) In addition, Bayelsa is setting up a Budget
Expenditure Transparency Board which will enable citizens to
become more involved in monitoring government revenue and
spending. The Budget Transparency Board will oversee the
expenditures of the state and take note of and discuss areas
where there are weaknesses. Training and capacity building
in budget monitoring for NGOs will also be conducted, he
said.

Development Plan Includes Local Governments
-------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The second major accomplishment is the preparation
and publication of the Bayelsa State Strategy for Sustainable
Development, which was subsequently circulated for comment.
On June 11, Kemedi told Pol-Econ Chief that he had been
working with an international foundation that provided help
with initial concepts, and drafts of some elements of the
overall strategy, which will include the local government
area level, he said. The draft will be presented at a public
meeting for feedback. Kemedi hopes to hire an expert
economist who will help guide the Bayelsa Internal Revenue
Service (BIRS) and strengthen policy formulation and
execution, especially with respect to expenditures.

Bayelsa to Seek Standard and Poors Rating
-----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The State consulted with HSBC about raising capital
to undertake major development projects such as an airport, a
deepwater supply base, similar to the Accor base in Port
Harcourt, and a deepwater port. According to Kemedi, HSBC
advised the State that certain prerequisites must be
fulfilled. Among these is a Standard and Poors or Fitch
rating for the State, which the State is now seeking. In

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addition, Kemedi wants to ensure that the State's accounting
standards reach an international level, because he believes
that this will also favorably influence investors.

Work Under Way to Solve Power Problem
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Kemedi also told Poloffs August 1 that the State was
well on the way to increasing the supply of electric power.
To increase output, the State has ordered a gas turbine. In
addition, the State, which has always had its own
transmission network, is installing new equipment to upgrade
the existing system. Kemedi believes that when everything is
finished (no completion date given), Bayelsa will have
sufficient power to entice companies thinking of leaving
Nigeria to instead relocate to Bayelsa.

7. (SBU) Comment: Kemedi, a long standing contact of the
Mission, reportedly was recruited by Governor Sylva based on
his work leading the "Our Niger Delta" NGO. Kemedi's work to
date appears to have put in place a valid environment for
improving transparency and accountability in Bayelsa State
government.
BLAIR

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