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Cablegate: Nigeria: Abia Commissioner of Finance Describes Progress On

VZCZCXRO6712
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0427/01 3021413
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281413Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0261
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9909
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 000427

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TRANSPORTATION FOR KSAMPLE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EFIN EINV PGOV NI

SUBJECT: Nigeria: Abia Commissioner of Finance Describes Progress on
State Fiscal Responsibility and Education

Sensitive But Unclassified; Handle Accordingly

1. (U) Summary: In an October 9 visit to the ConGen Lagos, Abia
Commissioner of Finance, Max Adindu said that the state had
increased revenue by 27 percent, in part because of an innovative
program that utilizes the market unions as tax collectors. Abia has
equipped 120 high school laboratories and employed 150 science
teachers to improve science teaching in the state, and is seeking
U.S. sources for the purchase of Braille and other equipment for
educating the disabled. The Geometric independent power project
(IPP) in Aba will begin operation in December, and help revive
industry in the state. The state remains committed to stamping out
piracy at the Aba market. Abia has constituted a state security
force to complement the National Police Force. End summary.

2. (U) On October 9, Dr. Max Adindu, Commissioner for Finance, Abia
State, South-East Nigeria, met with Consul General Donna Blair and
PolOffs, to discuss economic developments in his state. Adindu, who
was previously Commissioner of Education, said he had run against
the current governor in the 2007 election and lost, but when offered
a job by the Governor, decided to accept in the interest of the
state. Te partnership has resulted in better education and
increased revenues for the state, he said. (Note: Abia, located in
the south-east geopolitical zone, is an oil producing state which
earns over naira 400 million (USD 3.4 million) in monthly derivation
revenue, in addition to an average naira 2.1 billion (USD 17.7
million) federally allocated revenue that accrues to the state
monthly. End Note)

Fiscal Responsibility Legislation on Second Reading
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (U) Abia State Assembly is already far along in its consideration
of fiscal responsibility and government procurement legislation. The
bills are already up for the second reading, Adindu said, and he
expects that the legislation will be passed in the next several
weeks.

Education: Schools Retooled For Science Education
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (U) Adindu said his first action as Commissioner of Education was
to close down over 400 illegal and unapproved schools that had been
set up by unqualified persons. Such schools, both private and
public, were later rehabilitated and approved after qualified
teachers were engaged. The state also retooled 120 high schools
laboratories by procuring micro-science kits through a federal
government program facilitated by a consortium called SkillG, for
studies in physics, chemistry, biology and introductory technology.
He said Abia state used its portion of the federal Education Tax
Fund (ETF) to employ and train teachers, particularly science
teachers, because the ratio had fallen to 2 science teachers to
1,000 children in some schools. Over 150 science teachers were
recently employed by the state.

Internally Generated Revenue, Youth Employment Up
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) During his scant two months as Finance Commissioner, Adindu
said he had already grown the state's internally generated revenue
(IGR) by 27 percent from August through September. He started an
innovative program whereby market men and women were encouraged to
pay their tax to the market unions which, in turn passed them on to
the ministry, retaining a percentage as a commission. He also used
radio and television ads, to convince people that the taxes they
paid would result in improvements in basic services. The state has
also intensified its employment generation drive by giving soft
loans to new graduates through microfinance banks. Young graduates
are encouraged to register with the Department of Youth Employment
Generation under the Ministry of Youth Development after joining
cooperatives. Over 700 youths are currently registered with the
program, he said.

December Power Plant Start Up To Revive Industry

LAGOS 00000427 002 OF 003


--------------------------------------------- ---

6. (U) Adindu told the Consul General that an Independent Power
Plant (IPP) operated by Geometric, will come on stream in December
2008. The Aba-located plant will lead to significant development of
industries and employment opportunities in the area, Adindu said.
The plant will also supply power to Umuahia, the state capital, in
the future, which will attract businesses to the capital. According
to the Commissioner, improving the state's infrastructure is a major
focus of the state government and the success of Geometric is a
critical confidence booster. The state plans to build a refinery,
new roads and revive old industries, including state-owned poultry,
ceramic, brewery and textile companies. The Governor, who
articulated a 14-point agenda at his inauguration, plans to create
an industrial estate in each of the three senatorial zones of the
State.

State Rehabs Water System
-------------------------

7. (U) Abia has an integrated water system, with a network of pipes
that carries water between communities. The state coordinates with
Local Government Areas (LGA) to assure that where pipe borne water
is not available, the LGA sinks boreholes.

State Committed to Stamping Out Piracy at Aba Market
--------------------------------------------- -------

8. (U) Stamping out the production and sale of pirated and
counterfeit goods at Aba market is another priority for the
government. According to Adindu, the state government is committed
to stamping out such activities in the state and would welcome any
assistance from the U.S. Government.

State Security to Complement Police
-----------------------------------

9. (U) Adindu said crime in Abia state is low; criminal kidnappings
do, however, happen. This is because the Nigerian Police Force
(NPF) is not effective in dealing with perpetrators. As a result,
the state government has created its own state security force to
work in collaboration with the NPF. Other South-East (SE) states
have replicated the force to complement efforts of the NPF. Adindu
said SE states engage retired police officers to train the state
security force.

SE States Pull Together to Drive Economic Development
--------------------------------------------- --------

10. (U) Adindu opined that, despite the fact that the geopolitical
zone is split between states controlled by the Peoples Democratic
Party (PDP) and those controlled by opposition parties, there is a
lot of collaboration on economic development. The governments are
putting aside political differences and partnering to improve the
region's economy. All political alliances are reserved strictly for
election times, Adindu said, and suggested other regions, such as
the South-West, should adopt a similar approach to foster economic
development.

State Asks Help with Education for Disabled
-------------------------------------------

11. (U) The Commissioner requested U.S. Government assistance in the
provision of specialized equipment and reading materials for the
education of disabled persons in the state. Poloffs introduced
Adindu to Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) and Foreign Agricultural
Service Chiefs; FCS will provide information about U.S. sources for
Braille and other equipment to Adindu.

12. (SBU) Comment: Governor Theodore Orji (People's Progressive
Alliance - PPA) is an opposition party governor who undoubtedly
hopes to make his mark on the state, and to distinguish himself from
the ruling PDP party. Like other governors, Orji is pushing for
state-led initiatives to address fundamental problems hampering

LAGOS 00000427 003 OF 003


socio-economic development in Nigeria, namely infrastructure,
security, and education. For Nigeria, problems persist not for a
lack of planning, but because of the unwillingness or inability to
implement the plan on the part of the political leadership. At this
point, Post defers judgment on Adindu's claims until we have the
opportunity to evaluate them on the ground. End Comment.

13. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja.
Blair

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