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Cablegate: Nigeria: Surreal Summit On Infrastructure in Akwa

VZCZCXRO1105
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0399/01 2820956
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080956Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0218
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 000399

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SURREAL SUMMIT ON INFRASTRUCTURE IN AKWA
IBOM STATE

REF: LAGOS 208

1. (SBU) Summary: In an "Infrastucture Summit" held
September 18 and 19 the government of Akwa Ibom State laid
out its development strategy and attempted to interest the
private sector in public private partnerships for
infrastructure development in the state. Representatives of
Akwa Ibom's civil society lamented the emphasis on flashy
projects pointing out the near absolute lack of primary
education, primary health care and water treatment in the
State, and Poloffs experienced the bad roads and unreliable
electric power even at the 5-star Le Meridian resort, where
the summit was staged. The contrast between the government's
extravagant plans and the actual level of development in the
state, coupled with the state government's lack of progress
on passing fiscal responsibility and government procurement
legislation, made the entire summit seem surreal. End
Summary.

2 (SBU) Poloffs attended the Akwa Ibom "Infrastructure
Summit" held September 18 and 19 at Le Meridian resort
outside of Uyo. The development plans of Akwa Ibom state as
outlined in Governor Godswill Akpabio's opening remarks and
subsequent papers are very ambitious. Akpabio promised to
bring an electric power plant on line this year with a
capacity of 191 MW. He promised to construct or reconstruct
230 kilometers of road. He expressed the intention to
develop Ibaka into a deep water port for both naval and
commercial purposes. He stated that the airport currently
under construction will be completed in 2009 and will meet
international standards for receiving wide-bodied jets for
both passenger and cargo operations. (Note: The airport
project was initially contracted to DynCorp, a U.S. company.
After a lengthy dispute over USD 12 million in arrears,
DynCorp terminated the contract with Akwa Ibom State. End
Note.) He reported proudly that a dialysis clinic was now
operating in the state. He announced plans for the
construction of a Science and Technology Park to foster
high-tech industries, particularly communications companies,
in the state. He outlined plans for a convention
center/stadium capable of seating 10,000 people, which he
claimed would attract the ruling People's Democratic Party's
Convention in 2011. Last but not least, Akpabio described
plans for an entertainment center to include a five-star
hotel, shopping center and theme park to attract tourists to
the state. (Note: The conference took place at the 5-star Le
Meridian hotel, a plush resort and golf course constructed
with state money by the former governor, Victor Attah. End
note.)

3. (SBU) Members of the audience drew a very different
picture of the state of development in Akwa Ibom State during
discussions following presentations and in private
discussions with Poloffs. One participant lamented the focus
on five-star hotels and conference centers when the primary
schools in her Local Government Area did not have chairs much
less books for the pupils. A doctor pointed out that because
there is no ambulance service patients needing emergency care
were often brought to hospitals on motorbikes, clinging to
the driver while a relative or friend rode behind to keep the
patient from falling off. A nurse described patients lying
on concrete floors for lack of sufficient beds. The managing
director of the Akwa Ibom Water Company admitted that 40% of
the state's population does not have access to potable water.
The lack of security in the state was highlighted by several
participants, who challenged the repeated assertions of
government representatives that Akwa Ibom was a "peaceful"
state.

4. (SBU) Comment: The political speeches, particularly those
praising the governor, were long and fulsome, but Poloffs
personally experienced the deplorable state of the roads and
the unreliable power as well as heard from reliable sources
about the inadequacies in fundamental health care, primary
education, and water treatment. The state government
consistently tried to disassociate itself from its

LAGOS 00000399 002 OF 002


predecessor's administration, despite the fact that both
governors are from the ruling PDP party, and not withstanding
Akpabio's reported connections with Vice President Goodluck
Jonathan. Predictably, there was no mention of the problems
that plagued the U.S. company Dyncorp's airport project
outside Uyo, the state capital (Lagos 208). To date, Akwa
Ibom has not yet taken steps to adopt fiscal responsibility
and government procurement legislation. As a result, we fear
that many of the infrastructure projects touted at the
conference will become, as have all too many throughout
Nigeria, "bridges to nowhere." End Comment.

5. This cable was cleared by Abuja.
BLAIR

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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