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Cablegate: Nigeria: Bi-Weekly Pol/Econ Updates for November 1-14,

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 002333

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DOE FOR GPERSON, CHAYLOCK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET EFIN MOPS PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BI-WEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR NOVEMBER 1-14,
2008

1. (U) The Following is a US Mission Nigeria compilation of November
1-14 political/economic highlights, which did not feature in our
other reporting, covering:

--HIV/AIDS
--HUMAN RIGHTS
--CORRUPTION
--FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
--SOUTHERN ECONOMIC NEWS
--DELTA INCIDENTS
--OIL AND GAS

HIV/AIDS
--------

2. (SBU) According to a November 13 press article in the Punch,
Minister of State for Defense Fidelia Njeze reported that 94,000 HIV
cases were recorded in the Ministry of Defence's 24 medical centers
in the past 5 years. The comments were made during the visit of a
technical team from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and
Njeze was profuse in expressing her appreciation of the USG's active
role in fighting HIV/AIDS in the Nigerian military. Njeze didn't
give a specific breakdown of the data, so the numbers seem
shockingly high given an overall active duty strength of around
75,000 personnel; however, as Nigerian military medical centers
perform HIV testing for large numbers of civilians who live on or
near military bases, the actual number of infected military
personnel is probably far lower.

HUMAN RIGHTS
------------

3. (U) NIGERIAN NAVY ABUSES CIVILIANS: Two naval officers were
arrested by the Ogun State Command Police for allegedly killing a
policeman and severely wounding another in a scuffle at a hotel in
Ota, Ogun State. The incident occurred less than two weeks after a
November 3 incident where six naval officers attached to the convoy
of the Chief of Naval Logistics Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade beat
and stripped the 27 year-old daughter of the National Assembly
Sergeant-at-Arms. The beating was caught on tape and can be found
on CNN's iReports at: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-134234.

CORRUPTION
----------

4. (U) RIBADU FACES SACK FOR LAWSUIT: On November 10, This Day
newspaper reported that former Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is challenging his
demotion by two ranks - from Assistant Inspector General of Police
(AIG) to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP)-in a federal court.
Police officials maintain that the Police Act does not permit a
serving member of the police force to take legal action against
Nigerian authorities. Ribadu's and other lawyers have countered
that the former EFCC chairman's right to sue is guaranteed by the
1999 Constitution. A senior police officer reportedly said Ribadu
will face disciplinary action because his lawsuit was not
pre-approved by the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) in
accordance with Nigerian Police Force regulations.

5. (U) EFCC FILES NEW EVIDENCE TO TRY FORMER AVIATION MINISTER:
According to This Day newspaper the EFCC supplied fresh evidence to
an Abuja high court on November 11 to try former Minister of
Aviation, Dr. Babalola Borishade, and three others for alleged
complicity in the USD 195 million Safe Tower project scam. Others
being tried alongside the former minister include former Managing
Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Roland
Iyayi; former aide of Borishade, T.A Dairo; and Head of Operations
of Avsatel Communications Limited, Mr. George Eider. The fresh
evidence against the four was detailed in a 282-page document
submitted to the court. Borishade was reported to have received
15,000 euros from Eider in the form of hotel accommodations and
other gifts for awarding Avsatel Communications Ltd the "Safe Tower"
contract in December 2005.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
---------------------

6. (U) GOVERNORS, FINANCE MINISTER DISCUSS FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
WITH MISSION: On November 10 Econ Couns, Acting Deputy AID Mission

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Director, AID Officer and head of USAID REFORMS project attended a
meeting on state-level responsibility and procurement with Governors
of Benue, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Kwara, Bauchi and Ekiti States chaired
by Minister of Finance Usman. The Minister, governors and donor
representatives agreed to set up a joint working group to harmonize
and facilitate adoption and implementation of related legislation
across the 36 states. Both the Minister and some of the governors
emphasized the need for effective law and administration, while
avoiding delays in executing budgets, the latter a problem at the
federal level following adoption of the national fiscal
responsibility law. The senior Nigerian officials also emphasized
the importance of peer review and technical assistance from the
donor community to move forward fiscal responsibility and effective
procurement at all levels of government. Dr. Usman reported to the
donor representatives that he was chairing a Presidential Committee
to explore establishing a sovereign wealth fund, coordinating
consideration of such a fund among the federal, state and local
levels of government.

SOUTHERN ECONOMIC
-----------------

7. (U) FLOATING HOTEL OPENS IN LAGOS: The long awaited yacht that
will serve as the Lagos Sunborn Yacht Hotel docked at the Lagos
Marina on November 8. The 5,000-ton vessel is a floating hotel with
105 luxury suites, bars, restaurants and a conference center. The
hotel, acquired by the current Lagos State Government for USD 31
million, will be under private management when operational. A park
and walkway along the marina waterfront facilitates pedestrian
access to the ship.

Delta Incidents; No Americans Involved
----------------------------------------

8. (U) PORT HARCOURT ATTACKS: According to press reports, on
November 3 a Lebanese employee of a construction company was
kidnapped in Port Harcourt. A MEND spokesman denied responsibility
but offered to mediate. In a separate incident the same day a
Nigerian banker was kidnapped. No information was given about
ransom payments in either case, but both hostages were released on
November 6.

9. (U) RIVERS STATE ATTACKS: On November 8 the Nigerian press
reported that gunmen in eight boats had attacked the Chevron
facilities at RobertKiri, but were driven off by the Joint Task
Force (JTF) soldiers. The JTF claimed to have killed 12 of the
attackers for the loss of one of their own men.

10. (U) SOME HOSTAGES RELEASED: On November 9 MEND announced the
release of three Nigerian and one Ukrainian seamen held since
September 9, when their oil supply vessel "Blue Ocean" was seized.
Two British seamen of the international crew of 27 originally taken
hostage are still being held. MEND says the British hostages will
be held until the British government ends military assistance to the
Nigerian government and Henry Okah, a militant leader now in
Nigerian government custody, is released.

11. (U) OIL THEFT TANKER SEIZED: The Nigerian press reported that on
November 14, the Nigerian Navy seized a "foreign vessel" manned by
Filipinos and arrested the crew for illegal bunkering. There were
no other details about under which country the vessel was flagged.


OIL AND GAS
-----------

12. (SBU) WELL REOPENINGS DOWN: On November 13 an executive with an
oilfield service firm told Energyoff that international oil
companies are slowing work to reopen shut-in wells in oilfields in
Niger Delta swamp and near offshore because of falling oil prices.
The executive said that requests by international oil companies to
rent his equipment for reopening work have all but stopped. In
comparison, six months ago he fielded ten orders a week for his
equipment. His equipment remains fully booked for 2009, with
international oil companies using it for maintenance of existing
operational fields and local oil companies reopening small,
individual wells the major companies have abandoned. (Note:
International oil companies rent this equipment to support crews
reopening dozens of wells in an oilfield; in contrast small local

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oil companies usually reopen only one or two wells then keep the
equipment to use during initial production runs until permanent
equipment can be installed. End Note.)

13. (SBU) TOTAL TESTING ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY: On November 13, the
same executive said Total is using his equipment in Cameroon to test
a new process for installing enhanced oil recovery equipment in
aging oilfields. If successful, Total plans to use that process in
its oilfields near Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Total is testing
the process in neighboring Cameroon where operating costs are lower
and security is better than in Nigeria. According to the executive,
the enhanced oil recovery technique may lead to increased gas
flaring as Total has no plans to re-inject or otherwise gather the
associated natural gas resulting from increased production.

14. (SBU) KADUNA REFINERY MAINTENANCE BEGINS: On November 10, local
papers reported that the Kaduna refinery will undergo a USD 2.9
billion turn around maintenance program from November 15 to mid
January 2009. Kaduna had been one of Nigeria's two operating
refineries, but it was forced offline in mid-October after the
feedstock pipeline supplying crude oil from Warri was vandalized.
The Warri refinery remains partially operational. The GON may be
laying on stocks of imported refined products in anticipation of the
holiday season when many Nigerians travel from cities to their home
villages; local papers report that the wait times for tankers
offloading gasoline at the Apapa import terminal in Lagos have
increased in recent days. (Comment: Late last year, the Yar'Adua
administration pushed the state oil company to reopen at least one
refinery, even though scheduled maintenance had not been done.
Previous attempts over the past few years to perform critical turn
around maintenance at Nigerian refineries have failed in the face of
massive corruption. The downstream units of international oil
companies have shied away from bidding on the contracts because of
the blatant demands for kickbacks from refinery officials. The
result is refineries operating at reduced capacity and subject to
intermittent outages. End Comment.)

SANDERS

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