Cablegate: Nigeria: Preparations for the World Summit On

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) STATE 128584 (B) STATE 107505

1. On August 16, the GON inaugurated the National Committee
on the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Chaired by
the Minister of Environment, the Committee is comprised of 10
ministries including Environment, Health, Transport,
Commerce, Agriculture, Education and Water Resources. Each
Ministry has been instructed to establish in-house technical
committees to examine the Agenda 21 issues that fall in their
purview. Four sub-committees have been established to oversee
the work of the technical committees as follows:

-- Toxic Chemicals and Waste Management with technical
committees on toxic chemicals; hazardous wastes; industry and
environment; and solid waste management.

-- Implementation Strategies with technical committees on
education, public awareness and training; and information and
communication for decision-making.

-- Social and Economic Dimensions with technical committees
on poverty; human settlements; health; trade and environment;
and atmosphere.

-- Conservation of Natural Resources with technical
committees on management of forests and other land resources;
sustainable agriculture and rural development; conservation
of biodiversity; coastal and marine resources; and water

2. In a meeting September 12 with Assistant Director M.K.
Ibrahim, Second United Nations Divsision, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, EconOff learned that the GON had also established a
fifth sub-committee examining the issue of good governance,
particularly institutional mechanisms, rule of law, human
rights and transparency/accountability. Ibrahim said the GON
recognized that good governance would be a focus issue for
many developed countries, adding that "nations cannot
participate in today's world without good governance." When
asked whether Nigeria would put forward its own agenda,
Ibrahim commented that he expected the nations of the
sub-region to reach a common approach at the sub-regional
conference scheduled to take place October 1-3 in Abidjan.

3. Comment. Nigeria faces many challenges in achieving good
governance as the country recovers from decades of military
dictatorship and sore neglect of the nation's institutions
and infrastructure. The judiciary is widely considered to be
corrupt and incapable of efficiently processing claims.
There is insufficient capacity to enforce national laws and
regulations, which sometimes contradict each other and are
often not harmonized (e.g., environmental protection
legislation) may conflict with each other. The physical
infrastructure of the country has deteriorated -- power and
water supplies are far below demand and telephones reach only
2 percent of the population. Public tendering, while
seemingly transparent at the onset, typically concludes in a
cloud of obscurity. The political will exists to tackle some
of these problems, such as legal harmonization and some
infrastructure improvements, but political realities on the
ground make significant changes to the political-economic
status quo unlikely in the short term.

4. Comment Continued. There are no specific host country
sensitivities to good governance; most Nigerians acknowledge
(and lament) that the country lacks critical institutional
capacity and suffers from endemic corruption. Mission
officers frequently raise issues of good governance with the
GON. However, GON officials believe they are making progress
on these problems, and, in some areas, they are. Therefore,
in discussions with Nigeria on the WSSD, the Department
should recognize the Obasanjo Administration's efforts to
improve governance.

5. Comment Continued. Host country priorities relative to
good governance are to reduce low-level corruption, improve
internal security through reform of the national police and
improve the investment climate. Through the IMF Stand-by
Arrangement, the GON has also made progress on identifying
redundant civil servants and auditing GON capital projects.
There has been little emphasis, however, on reforming the
judiciary or rooting out higher-level corruption.

6. Comment Continued. Through USAID, the USG is providing
Nigeria with over $100 million in FY01 in programs that
contribute directly or indirectly to improved governance.
These areas include health, education, conflict mitigation,
law enforcement, privatization, fiscal and monetary policy,
intellectual property rights, trade and tariff policy and
economic policy coordination.

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