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Cablegate: Nigeria: Bi-Weekly Pol/Econ Updates for September 1-15,

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R 060641Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4080
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RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
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RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET MOPS KTIP NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BI-WEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR SEPTEMBER 1-15,
2008

1. (U) The following is a joint Embassy Abuja/ConGen Lagos
compilation of September 1-15 political/economic highlights, which
did not feature in our other reporting, covering:

--Economic and Business
--Trafficking in Persons
--National Assembly
--Oil and Gas
--Southern Politics

------------------------
ECONOMIC & BUSINESS NEWS
------------------------
2. (U) NIGERIA'S DEBT: Nigeria's external debt stands at $3.7
billion, which is about four percent of the country's Gross Domestic
Product. Head of the Debt Management Office (DMO) explained to the
press that the figure is remarkable compared to 60 percent of the
country's GDP before debt relief. The DMO stated further that
Nigeria's decision to access $500 million from the international
capital market will open strategic windows to mobilize resources
under favorable terms and conditions to keep sustainable economic
growth.
3. (U) SEC COMMITTEES TO REVIEW CAPITAL MARKET STRUCTURE: The
Committee on the Review of Corporate Governance for Public Companies
and the Committee for the Review of Capital Market Structure and
Processes were inaugurated on September 15 by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) in Abuja. A.B. Mahmoud chairs the panel on
Corporate Governance whose purpose is to review the Nigerian
Corporate Governance Code for Public Companies and identify
obstacles to good corporate governance in public companies. Dotun
Sulaiman heads the committee for the Review of the Capital Market
Structure and Processes, which identifies the strength, weaknesses,
opportunities and challenges of the Nigerian capital market. The
panel will review the present market structures, processes, as well
as regulatory and institutional frameworks. It will also make
recommendations for the improvement of the operational efficiency
and transparency of the market, and suggest amendments to existing
laws.
4. (U) NIGERIA AND EU SIGN N17.4 BILLION ($148 MIL) AGREEMENT ON
NIGER DELTA: The EU signed a $148 million agreement with the GON on
September 11 to execute three governance projects in the Niger
Delta. The first is aimed at reducing rural and sub-urban poverty,
strengthening community governance and providing basic
infrastructure to improve service delivery in the region. The second
is aimed at strengthening non state actors' capacity to work toward
achieving poverty reduction and bolstering democratic processes. The
third project will focus on good governance at the state level
through efficient and transparent management of public finances to
ensure improved service delivery.
----------------------------
Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
----------------------------
5. (U) On September 4, the National Agency for the Prohibition of
Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), under the auspices of the American
Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative, commissioned the TIP
database, VSAT and solar power project. This project began over two
years ago and has finally reached completion. The database is
connected by VSAT to all NAPTIP zonal offices, and the solar powered
main server provides 24 hour access and greater operational
capacity, despite frequent power outages. The database will allow
law enforcement and civil society across the country to collect and
collate data in an effective and efficient manner that will track
both criminals and victims, enhancing both prosecution and
protection. Additionally, the collection of such data will, in time,
provide a detailed assessment of the complexity of the problem of
trafficking in persons in Nigeria.

6. (U) On September 10, NAPTIP announced the arrest of 60 Nigerians
in eight European countries for human trafficking. In coordination
with international agencies, NAPTIP co-organized Operation Koovis,
which was carried out in Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland,
Germany, Netherlands, and Britain, where offenders are currently
facing prosecution.

7. (U) Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola signed the Child
Rights Act into law on September 11. Speaker of the Osun State House
of Assembly, Adejare Bello, said the law will protect children and
other vulnerable groups, including women, from abuse. (Note: Osun
State is only the 17th of 36 states to pass the Act into law. End

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note.)

-------------------------
National Assembly Resumes
-------------------------

8. (U) The National Assembly has reconvened following their annual
six-week recess. The Daily Trust reported on September 8 that,
according to officers of the House of Representatives, the
priorities of both chambers are a review of the constitution and the
2008 budget bill. In addition, This Day reported on September 11
that the House commenced deliberations on a bill that seeks to
decentralize the awarding of contracts by ministries and government
agencies as well as the issuance of due process certificates. Local
press also reported that Speaker of the House Dimeji Bankole, said
the House would soon inaugurate a committee to monitor the
activities of the non-governmental organizations - tracking funds
from donors to ensue that such funds are use for their intended
purpose.

9. (U) According to the Daily Trust, Speaker Bankole met the
Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) Chairman, former Chief Justice of
Nigeria Muhammad Uwais, on September 11. Uwais said the ERC is
trying to acquaint lawmakers with their work and asking for support.
During the meeting with the Speaker, Uwais reportedly added that
the National Assembly "is going to set up a committee that is going
to look at the possible amendment to the constitution and since our
work is likely to touch on that, we thought we should bring to your
notice that we too might make some recommendations that would
involve, apart from amendment to the Electoral Act, also an
amendment to the constitution."

10. (U) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media
told journalists on September 10 that the Senate would ensure
passage of the Freedom of Information Bill within the next three
weeks. The bill has generated heated debate, particularly on the
floor of the House, about the level of responsibility and
professionalism exhibited by the Nigerian press, the motives of
politicians, as well as progress (or lack thereof) in the war on
corruption.

-----------
Oil and Gas
-----------

11. (U) On September 3, South African energy company Sasol announced
it was reducing its stake in a gas-to-liquids facility being built
in Escravos, Delta State. Majority partner Chevron agreed to buy
part of Sasol's equity in the joint venture, reducing Sasol's
participation from 37.5% to 10.0%. In May, Sasol had announced it
was reviewing its participation in the plant due to repeated delays
and soaring project costs. The plant, which uses Sasol patented
technology to turn natural gas into diesel and naptha, is scheduled
to be completed in 2011 at a cost of $6 billion.


--------------------------------------------- -----
Southern Politics: MASSOB Strike Ignored, No Bail
--------------------------------------------- -----

12. (SBU) A call by the Movement for the Actualization of the
Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) for an August 28 stay-at-home
protest was widely ignored in the predominantly Igbo Southeastern
states which once formed part of the former secessionist state of
Biafra. MASSOB called the strike to protest what it considers the
continued Nigerianization of Biafrans and to draw attention to what
it describes as continued British involvement in Nigerian-sponsored
genocide in the region. News accounts stated businesses and markets
were open as usual, with few exceptions.

13. (U) Also August 28, a judge in Ebonyi State denied a bail
request for MASSOB members arrested during a Biafran commemorative
march in Anambra State in May, who are currently facing federal
charges of treason. The case was adjourned until September 30.

14. (SBU) More than fifty-five members of the Oodua People's
Congress (OPC) were arrested September 3 after an August 28 clash
with members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW)
in which eight people, including two policemen, were killed. An

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Ibadan-based lawyer, told PolSpec on September 12 that the clash
erupted when Lagos-based OPC members, driving through Ibadan to
Osogbo to attend the annual Osun-Osogbo festival, encountered a
makeshift road block manned by NURTW members, who insisted that the
OPC vehicles had to pay a toll.

15. (U) Former Governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, and two former
aides were granted bail a week after having been arrested by the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charges of
corruption and theft totaling 6.5 billion naira (USD 55.5 million)
during Ladoja's tenure. The 33 counts against Ladoja, godson of the
recently-deceased Ibadan godfather Lamidi Adedibu, include
conspiracy to defraud the state government, abuse of office, and
stealing. The court date for the initial hearing has been set for
October 20.

16. (U) A September 2 meeting of the Ogun State People's Democratic
Party (PDP) intended to resolve a power struggle between the state's
three zones may have exacerbated tensions. Former President
Obasanjo and Governor Gbenga Daniel differed over the allocation of
positions within the state government among the three zones.
Because the state party was unable to reach a resolution, the
National Working Committee of the PDP will take up the question at
its next working meeting.

Piascik

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