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Cablegate: Nigeria: Ambassador's Call On Minister Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001548

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
PASS TO USAID AFR/ACTING AA DICKSON-HORTON


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD EAID BEXP NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: AMBASSADOR'S CALL ON MINISTER OF
AGRICULTURE -- A CALL FOR A MORE TARGETED AGRICULTURAL
ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

-----------
SUMMARY
---------------------


1. Ambassador Jeter met June 26 with Minister of Agriculture
Bello for a discussion of U.S.-Nigeria relations in the
agriculture sector. USAID Country Director provided a
thorough brief on the range of USG agricultural assistance
programs. Minister Bello thought USG efforts were
under-funded, too broad in their scope, and undefined in
expectations. Ambassador Jeter stressed the need for
capacity-building resulting from two decades of policy and
resource neglect. Ministry Directors addressed their needs
within the limited framework (biotech, vaccines and extension
services) for USG assistance as outlined by President
Obasanjo during his recent visit to Washington. USAID agreed
to consider programs addressing those needs. Minister Bello
asserted that certain trade restrictions were necessary and
would continue for now. End Summary.


2. (U) Ambassador Jeter, USAID Country Director Hobgood and
Embassy Economic Section Chief Carrig met June 26 with
Minister of Agriculture Adamu Bello, Minister of State Chief
Chris Agbobu, and five of the Ministry's Directors at the
Minister's Federal Secretariat office for a discussion of
U.S.-Nigerian relations, principally in the agriculture
sector. Members of the press attended the initial part of
the meeting. The session was very cordiale, and the embassy
delegation was warmly received.


3. (U) Ambassador Jeter opened by noting the importance of
Nigeria to the USG,s interests in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria,s size, population, regional influence and
engagement make critical a full and progressive relationship
between our two nations, he said. The Ambassador continued,
pointing out that our USAID program for Nigeria, a
significant component of which is in agriculture, was the
largest in Africa and that the success of that program is as
important to the present Administration was it was to last.


4. (SBU) Country Director Hobgood then briefed the Minister
on the range of USG agricultural support programs ) both
through USAID and U.S. Department of Agriculture ) now
underway in Nigeria, noting that they covered many areas.
Minister Bello agreed there was broad coverage, but said he
was not fully satisfied with both the depth and the focus of
much of the USG,s agricultural support assistance.


5. (SUB) First, Minister Bellow noted that Nigeria,s ties to
the U.S., cultural, historical, economical (primarily through
oil exports) and now, political, are sizeable and growing.
These relationships, he said, merit a much more robust aid
investment on the part of the U.S. He characterized the
present commitment as &a mere fraction of the cost of one
part of a missile system.8


6. (U) Second, the Minister said he thought that although USG
programs were well intentioned, they were more directed
toward capacity-building and model construction than toward
&measurable8 results. He said his Ministry wanted aid
denominated in measurables such as a targeted increase in
crop yields, savings in fertilizer, and numbers of farm
implements delivered to the field. He noted he had, that
day, signed an agreement with the Japanese that followed on
an earlier effort, which had met his criteria of &measurable
deliverables8.


7. (U) Ambassador Jeter followed up on the Minister,s
comments by noting there were absolutely essential precursors
to proper use and sustained development of the
&measureables8 that both he and the Minister would like to
see in Nigeria in the feature. He cited the rule of law,
transparency, integrity in government and a military that
accepts civilian control and direction as critical to a
democracy. The Minister accepted that, but noted that with
70 percent of Nigeria,s population living on subsistence
agriculture at less than one U.S. dollar per day, there was
need enough for a few more immediate &measureables8 along
the way to a fully developed democracy. &It isn,t a lack
of civics lessons for Army officers that will bring the Army
back; it will be the frustration with economic failure by
that 70 percent who are hungry that will cause the military
to intervene,8 he insisted.


8. (U) The Ambassador next recalled President Obasanjo,s
comment during his recent Washington visit that it might be
useful if U.S. agricultural assistance programs were fewer in
number and targeted of Nigeria,s defined top priorities.
Minister Bello picked up on this immediately. He then ticked
off the three targets selected by the President: biotech,
vaccines and extension services.


9. (U) Ambassador Jeter noted that beyond the GON,s
identification of the three targets, there was no clear sense
of where Nigeria wanted to go with such a select program
group. He noted that we needed to have better clarity and
should work together closely on program design, execution and
evaluation, that agriculture was only one of many competing
needs for USAID resources, and because of years of neglect,
the focus had been on capacity-building. The Ambassador
noted that decades of military rule had left the public and
private sectors &a mere shadow8 of their former efficiency
envied throughout Africa.


10. (U) Minister Bello then called on two of his directors
for sketches of what they saw as pressing needs for Nigeria
within the framework President Obasanjo had set out in
Washington:


- The Director of Fisheries thanked the U.S. for the
recent certification of Nigeria for shrimp exports to the
U.S., following industry compliance with TED regulations. He
noted a need for USG assistance in developing a Nigerian
aquaculture industry for fish farming.


- The Director of Agricultural Science followed next.
He noted that Nigeria,s farm animal vaccine industry is not
competitive. He cited dated technology, poor packaging and
marketing as the primary areas where USG assistance would be
useful.


USAID Country Director agreed to have relevant members of his
staff meet with the Ministry's Directors to determine whether
suitable USAID assistance programs exist to address the
concerns raised in the meeting.


11. (U) Ambassador Jeter concluded by noting that although
programs may be targeted for the objectives sought by the
GON, there simply was no substitute for private sector
investment and management, that aid could only be a catalyst,
not a replacement for trade and market discipline. The
Ambassador then raised with Minister Bello USG concerns about
trade restrictions. He cited two: remaining bans on the
importation of some commodities, e.g., grain sorghum and
millet, and a de facto ban on poultry imports due to the
unavailability of import processing documentation.


12. (U) Minister Bello had a quick response for each concern.
On the bans, he said, simply, that the domestic market
needed protection and it was incumbent on the GON to provide
it. On poultry imports, although he acknowledged the ban had
been lifted over a year ago, health concerns blocked
importation for now.


13. (U) As he was escorting us to our car, the Deputy
Minister raised Bello's desire to visit Washington as was
mentioned during President Obasanjo's May official state
visit to the U.S. Bello has written to Secretary of
Agriculture Ann Veneman with some proposed dates, which the
Deputy Minister said he would also convey to the Embassy.


14. (U) Bello, a tall, handsome Northerner from Adamawa
State, is new to his office but seems to have a very firm
grasp of the concerns of his ministry. It will be worthwhile
to engage him on a full range of issues, agricultural sales,
markets restrictions, developmental goals and policy, when
and if he visits Washington. The Embassy endorses his visit
as a possible way of reinjecting vigor into our agricultural
programs
15. (U) Comment. Bello, who is new to his office, is very
articulate and seems to have a good grasp of the concerns of
his Ministry.
Jeter

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