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Cablegate: Nigeria: Press Reports On Chairman's Plans For

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OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0375/01 2680736
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O 240736Z SEP 08 ZDS
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0179
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9832
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 000375

C O R R E C T E D COPY - CORRECTED CAPTION

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
STATE PASS NSC FOR BOBBY PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EPET NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PRESS REPORTS ON CHAIRMAN'S PLANS FOR
NIGER DELTA TECHNICAL COMMITTEE

REF: A. ABUJA 1854
B. LAGOS 367
C. LAGOS 366
D. LAGOS 365
E. LAGOS 357

LAGOS 00000375 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary: In press reports, Ledum Mittee, newly elected
Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta
described his vision of how the Committee would function in
the September 14 editions of Vanguard and The Guardian.
According to the press articles, in addition to reviewing
past reports on the Niger Delta and making recommendations,
the Committee will do outreach to the people of the Niger
Delta, including the various ethnic groups, for their views
and draw up an action plan outlining the responsibilities of
the federal, state and local governments, civil society and
oil companies. Mittee, who said he sees the government as
committed to the process, called for a "cessation of
hostilities" to allow the Committee to do its work without
distraction. End Summary.

2. (U) According to press reports in the Sunday September 14
Vanguard and the Guardian newspapers, Ledum Mittee, newly
elected Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Niger
Delta, in Sunday, set out his plans for how the work of the
committee will proceed. The Committee's charge is to review
all past reports on the Niger Delta and from them make
recommendations for what must be done to solve the problems
of the Niger Delta. Mittee said that the Committee
recognizes that there may be gaps between the reports and the
reality on the ground today. In addition, the Committee
wants the people of the Niger Delta to have input into and
feel that they own the outcome of the process. As a result,
the Committee will reach out to the people of the Niger Delta
for their views. Inclusion of the views of the communities
will distinguish the Committee's work product from earlier
reports, often written from a single perspective or with a
single focus, such as the Willinks, Ogomudia and other
reports, he said. Mittee called for a "cessation of
hostilities" to allow the Committee to do its work without
distraction.

Committee to Outline Stakeholder Responsibilities
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. (U) Based on the reports and input, the Committee will
draw up an action plan, outlining what Nigeria's federal,
state and local governments, civil society and oil companies
should do to address the issues in the Niger Delta. Mittee
said that he had already talked with spokespersons for
militant groups and anticipated that they too would have
input into the report. During the week of September 14, the
Committee will request memoranda from each of the ethnic
groups in the Niger Delta. After that the Committee will sit
down to work, he said. If the Committee takes a month to
finish its work, that will be fine, Mittee said. However,
Mittee said, "It is important to give peace a chance and to
give us cooperation by ceasing all hostilities for the
duration" of the Committee's work. "Any spate of
kidnappings, oil pipeline vandalization will pose a challenge
to us. We will not be able to do a good job if we are
distracted."

4. (U) One of the issues Mittee said falls squarely within
the responsibility of the Federal Government is that of
bunkering. The "players" in bunkering, who own the large
ships that ply international waters, are not Niger Delta
people, he said. The oil cartel that is behind the bunkering
is not made up of Niger Delta people, nor is the arms cartel.
"The fish rots from the head", the newspaper quotes him as
saying. However, in the absence of action by the Federal
Government, the states are currently using their resources to
manage what are essentially federal responsibilities, he
said.

5. (U) The Committee will focus on the things it believes
would bring about the desired peace and development in the
Niger Delta, Mittee said in the article. One cannot talk of
peace without justice. How do the people in the Niger Delta

LAGOS 00000375 002 OF 002


get justice? How do they get the benefits that citizens of
this country are due whether or not they are producing oil?
How do they get a fair share of the resources and development
of the country, he asked rhetorically. The task of the
Committee is not to solve the problems; rather, it will
identify problems and solutions for all stakeholders to
address. Mittee said he expects that the recommendations
will give the local communities a role to play in solving the
problems.

Committee Given Autonomy to Elect Chair, Secretary
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (U) That the government backed down from the idea of a
summit is salutary, Mittee told the newspapers. "That they
had the humility" to accept the decision of the Niger Delta
people who did not want a summit is encouraging, he said.
When first appointed to the committee, he initially was
skeptical. However, the Federal Government told him and his
fellow Commissioners "We do not want to interfere with what
you are doing." No constraints were placed on the committee
as it elected its own chairman and secretary, Mittee was
quoted as saying.

7. (U) Asked what assurances he had that the report of the
Technical Committee would not, like other reports, be ignored
and never implemented, Mittee said he had spoken with the
Vice President who had given him assurances. The government
has promised, through its seven point agenda, to deal with
the Niger Delta in a holistic manner. If the government,
with the Niger Delta as a key point in its agenda, calls all
the stakeholders together and asks them what the government
should do, but then ignores their recommendations, "you turn
everyone into militants," Mittee told the newspaper. "I
believe they are quite committed to the process," he said.

8. (U) Mittee told the journalists that the Technical
Committee would turn in a performance that would show
everyone that they did their best. "If at any time we feel
that the process is being compromised, we will be the first
to tell you that," Mittee said.

Will Militants Trade Bunkering for Real Jobs?
---------------------------------------------

9. (U) Mittee was asked what types of jobs he believes the
"boys" in the creeks, used to easy money from oil bunkering
and kidnapping, will be willing to accept. The question
assumes that the boys in the creeks make lots of money, he
told the newspaper. But even if they did, money is only
useful for the pleasures that it buys. The militants cannot
go to Abuja, cannot fly out of the country to enjoy what
money they have, he said; they have to hide. There are
crimes such as oil bunkering and kidnapping being committed,
Mittee acknowledged, but these crimes must be distinguished
from, and not distract from genuine community demands. There
are certain things, such as electricity, water and roads,
that the community should not even have to ask for, he said.

10. (SBU) Comment: Mittee, an associate of the late Ken
Saro-Wiwa and a long-time leader of the non-violent Movement
for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), is
well-respected among individuals and groups in the Niger
Delta. His personal credibility, as well as his apparent
commitment to an inclusive process that allows individuals,
ethnicities and even militants to have input into the
process, bodes well for a successful outcome of the
Committee's work. As Mittee points out, however, completion
of the Committee's work, and the ultimate success of its
recommendations, depends on maintaining peace in the region.
See septel on current security issues in Rivers State and
conversation with Mittee. End Comment.
BLAIR

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