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Cablegate: Nigeria: Visit to Bauchi State

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041401Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4367
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0208
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RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002179

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM NI
SUBJECT: Nigeria: Visit to Bauchi State

1. (U) Summary. DCM, Information Resources Officer (IRO) and Public
Affairs Section Locally Employed Staffed (PAS LES) visited Bauchi,
capital of Bauchi State in the north-eastern zone of Nigeria,
October 29-30 for a Mission election-related panel discussion. They
had an opportunity to meet with several state government officials,
call on officers at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, and
visited several projects funded by the President's Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). End Summary.

2. (U) DCM visited Bauchi to take part in a panel discussion on the
role of civil society in elections. This event was organized as
part of the Mission's election related activities by the Professor
Iya Abubakar Community Resource Center (CRC) - originally funded by
USG under the former EDDI program - and the Mission's American
Corner in Bauchi. Also, participating on the panel were Joshua
Dongo Kushee, who is active on issues relating to peaceful elections
and conflict resolution, and Lucius Ahamdi Ihemee, a former
journalist, election activist and official at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
University. The panel participants and the members of the audience
of some 70 persons, primarily men, offered a number of critical
observations on the conduct of the 2007 elections in Nigeria.
Several noted proudly that the 2007 elections, at least at the local
level, had been fairly free and transparent. Alhaji Isa Yuguda, a
former Minister of Transportation in the Administration of former
President Olusegun Obasanjo, ran for Governor as the candidate for
All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) when the People's Democratic Party
(PDP) declined to support him. According to those present, efforts
by the PDP to hijack those elections were foiled by the citizenry,
who organized spontaneously to ensure ballots were cast and counted
openly, resulting in Yuguda's victory.

3. (U) The CRC (and the American Corner it hosts) is housed in the
state library, and we observed during a tour that these facilities
appear well maintained, well run and heavily patronized. The CRC
maintains an active information and communication technology
training program for state government workers, women, youth, street
children and others to large areas of northern Nigeria including
Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states, in addition to
Bauchi.

4. (U) During a courtesy call on Deputy Governor Garba Muhammad
Gadi, DCM offered compliments for the CRC. The Deputy Governor
noted that most of the initial funding for the center came from the
US Government and made a general request for more US assistance.
(Note: The CRC is a project of the Education for Development and
Democracy Initiative (EDDI), an interagency partnership of the State
Department, USAID, Peace Corps and the Departments of Education and
Agriculture, with collaboration from African public and private
sectors. End note.). The remainder of the meeting was dominated by
a discussion of US visa procedures.

5. (U) At an October 29 dinner Muhammad B. Jibrin, State
Commissioner for Higher Education who had been on the job only a few
months, described the state's efforts to improve the lives of its
citizens through education, noting that Bauchi last year had sent 20
students to train as pilots in Florida; was about to send 20 more to
study petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University; and had
concluded an agreement with an Egyptian university to train 50
doctors. He was to accompany the first tranche of 10 medical
students, all women, to Cairo in a few days. In exchange for their
medical education, the doctors would have to work one year for
Bauchi state for every year of training paid for by the state. The
pilots and petroleum engineers (who utilized post's Education
Advisory Center) have no such requirements to fulfill and represent
the state's investment in individuals so that they have decent job
prospects in Nigeria. (Note: Jibrin himself received flight
training in the US and worked previously as an airline pilot. He
was appointed to his current position based on his work at the
Ministry of Transportation during Governor Yuguda's tenure there.).
Suleiman Bogoro, a professor at Balewa University's animal
production program, but better known to us for his work with the
Forward in Action for Education, Poverty and Malnutrition NGO,
commented that one of the Governor's wives had taken a special
interest in basic education, which was helping to focus attention on
the abysmal rate of attendance at primary schools by girls.

6. (U) During a brief courtesy call on the leadership of Abubakar
Tafewa Balewa University on October 30, we discussed ways the
University could link up with American counterparts to improve
library operations, as well as plans to expand the English Access
Microscholarship Program to the University's international school,
should funding become available. (Note: This program provides
tuition to needy high school students at secondary schools
associated with universities in Zaria and Kano cities in order to
assist them acquire a comprehensive education and improved English
language skills).

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7. (U) This trip ended with a visit to a maternity clinic and a
community which receive PEPFAR funding from the RAHAMA Women
Development Center through the Centre for Development and Population
Activities (CEDPA), a USAID implementing partner. RAHAMA organizes
a positive living project in ten communities in Bauchi designed to
improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS by
increasing access to palliative care and other services. Women in
the community underscored the importance of the support groups
organized by RAHAMA in breaking down stigmas HIV/AIDS victims
confront. In a discussion about immunization rates, the leader of
the community described his support for immunization efforts,
including for polio eradication, and showed off several certificates
he had received for ensuring high coverage rates in his area.

SANDERS

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