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Cablegate: Nigeria: U.N. Calls for Niger Delta Development

VZCZCXRO2172
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1989/01 2831246
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091246Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4119
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0412
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0050
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0040
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0382
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001989

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PM EPET KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: U.N. CALLS FOR NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT
SUPPORT AND GIVES UPDATES ON NEW MINISTRY

REF: A. ABUJA 1950
B. ABUJA 1951

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Lisa Piascik for reasons 1.4. (b & d).

1. (U) SUMMARY: On September 24, PolCouns, USAID Director,
and PolOff (notetaker) attended the "Development Partners'
Consultations on the Niger Delta" at the United Nations House
in Abuja. Also present were the Dutch and Norwegian
Ambassadors, European Commission Charge d'Affaires, and other
representatives from the Canadian High Commission, Swiss,
Japanese and French embassies, World Bank, International
Monetary Fund (IMF), and UK Department for International
Development (DFID). U.N. Resident Coordinator Dr. Alberic
Kacou facilitated the discussion of a proposed development
partner support package for the Niger Delta for submission to
the Niger Delta Technical Committee during the week of
October 6, 2008. Kacou also updated the group on the
creation of the new Niger Delta Ministry and the work of the
Niger Delta Technical Committee and Niger Delta Peace and
Conflict Committee. There was consensus among the
development partners present that it is not feasible to offer
any additional large-scale assistance without, at the very
least, a Delta-wide political settlement. In addition, there
must be a better use of funds that already go into the Delta
on a regular basis. END SUMMARY.

Donor Support Package Scenarios
-------------------------------

2. (U) Kacou shared a first draft of a proposal for donor
support, which includes a holistic focus on political,
security, social, and economic sectors and builds on "the
consensus for the need for a multi-track national strategy."
The proposal contains two options: 1) "Best Case Scenario,"
which includes both short and long-term approaches that
assume security is effectively addressed; and 2) "Mid-Case
Scenario," which proposes that Development Partners provide
support in critical governance areas even if the security
situation is not improved. Among the Best Case Scenario
immediate-term priorities in the draft are disarmament,
demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of militia groups,
generation of economic alternatives for youth militants,
improved social services delivery, conflict management and
prevention, budgeting and planning, and implementation and
monitoring. The "Mid-Case Scenario" is predicated on the
GON's commitment to broader structural change and regional
leadership.

3. (C) The group was hesitant to discuss additional funding
for the Niger Delta, particularly for service delivery and
large infrastructure and agriculture investments, and overall
agreed that the need for transparency is paramount. A long
discussion ensued on addressing corruption in the region.
The World Bank provided examples of its public expenditure
and financial accountability projects, which could provide a
starting point, but Dutch Ambassador Van Den Weil asserted
that corruption is too endemic to have any practical solution
at present and suggested that working with militants might be
the only option--although it may be an "unpopular sell at
home." Van Den Weil also questioned funding Niger Delta
development projects in general, noting that perceptions of
poverty in the Niger Delta region differ from reality in that
it may not be the poorest region in Nigeria, compared to
states like Katsina. EC Charge Theulin stressed the need to
address the "militants vs. criminals issue" and in doing so,
ensure that the "oil keeps flowing." He also questioned the
commitment to reform at the highest levels of the GON.

4. (C) Both Norwegian Ambassador Nedrebo and DFID
representative Emma Donnelly suggested inclusion of the Gulf
of Guinea Energy Security Strategy (GGESS) partners as a key
stakeholder in the process, despite the group's less than
stellar accomplishments, because it involves key development
partners as well as the GON, the security forces, the NDDC,
NNPC, international oil companies and core Niger Delta States
(Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, and Akwa Ibom).

Updates: Niger Delta Ministry and Other Working Committees
--------------------------------------------- -------------

5. (U) Kacou gave updates on the new Niger Delta Ministry and
described the pros and cons of the new Ministry as perceived
by the people of the Niger Delta. Among the pros, Kacou told
the group that the creation of the new ministry might be seen
as a strong signal that the Yar'Adua administration is
reinforcing its commitment to finding a solution to the
conflict, mostly evidenced through its effort to establish a
clear focus for the ministry, acquire donor support,
regulatory oversight, and stakeholder empowerment. Among the
cons, the creation of yet another ministry may be perceived
as a diversion away from the real issues. The Ministry also
runs the risk of being perceived as part of the problem
rather than the solution if not run by people from the
region. PolCouns noted our concern that the decision to have
a Minister-of-State within the Ministry, but with an entirely
separate portfolio (Youth Development), may lead to disputes
over clear lines of responsibility.

6. (C) Kacou also informed the group that the Niger Delta
Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee recently submitted
its report to Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. The
report contains an overall assessment of the conflict as well
as recommendations for securing peace in the future. (Note.
Post obtained a "confidential" copy of the report and will
send to AF/W via email. No cable on this report will follow.
End note.) Kacou also informed the group that the Niger
Delta Technical Committee will begin work on the
recommendations of the report on October 15.

Development Partner Consensus
-----------------------------

7. (C) There was consensus among the development partners
present that it is not feasible to offer any additional
large-scale assistance without, at the very least, a
Delta-wide political settlement. In addition, there must be
a better use of existing funds in the Niger Delta region.
Currently, the state governments and state assemblies lack
the capacity to effectively utilize the resources already at
their disposal. This makes it imperative that a political
settlement should include the commitment to build capacity in
key institutions to ensure civil society participation in
decision making and end the disenfranchisement of the Niger
Delta people, many of whom have legitimate grievances with
their government. Until then, it was agreed that development
partners can only play a limited, supplementary and mainly
advisory role within a larger political effort. END COMMENT.

8. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
Piascik

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