Cablegate: Nigeria: President Museveni Speaks On African

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

1. SUMMARY: President Yoweri Museveni, guest lecturer at the
Nigerian National War College on September 17, was billed to
speak to the filled hall about regional integration. His
well-received speech focused largely on globalization as the
driving force for integration. Museveni argued that states
and supranational structures of significantly large
population groups would give Africa the might necessary to
demand trade rights and access to global markets. However,
he warned, Africa must eschew religious, ethnic and tribal
conflicts that prevent integration and economic development.

2. President Yoweri Museveni, accompanied on the dais by
Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Chief of Defense Staff Ibrahim
Ogohi, Chief of Naval Staff Afolayan, Chief of Air Staff
Wuyep, Senator Udo Udoma and the NWC Commandant Rear Admiral
HL Okpanachi, gave the inauguration lecture for Course 10 at
the Nigerian National War College on September 17. Course 10
includes students from Benin, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Togo, and
for the first time, Uganda and France.

3. While integration was the main point of Museveni's paper,
dubbed "Why Uganda? Why Nigeria? Why the African Union?", he
identified globalization as the impetus for integration (the
speech sounded remarkably similar to many recent Thomas
Friedman columns). First, Museveni launched into an
anthropological discussion of the value-added of larger
political units; states versus tribes. (Museveni must have
also recently read Jared Diamond's book, "Guns, Germs and
Steel"). He discussed the transition of humanity from
hunter-gatherers to static agricultural-based societies.
Museveni argued that these societies had to organize to
irrigate and therefore developed larger social structures.
He then asked why development of more complex structures had
escaped Africa? Africa's low population levels due to
disease and the high availability of "gatherable" resources
made it unnecessary for Africans to develop structures more
complex than tribes.

4. Museveni argued the consolidation of tribes into states
by colonial powers was largely positive and noted that those
African leaders who challenged this process were doomed to
failure by the march of history. Implying that tribal
structures were outdated and unhelpful for development, he
joked, "I have a problem with my Kings in Uganda. They wear
feathers and kingly attire, but," he emphasized, "they were
conquered. 'Your Majesty, where were you? I was not a chief
then?", he asked rhetorically.

5. Rejecting the claims of African apologists railing
against the history of colonialism and the dissolution of
tribal structures, Museveni opined that Africa must organize
larger structures ("at a supra-tribal level") to survive.
Comparing Uganda to China, and noting that in the last 10
years he had become a favorite of the World Bank because
2,300 new companies had invested in Uganda, Museveni pointed
out that in the same period, 300,000 new companies had
invested in China. Why, he asked? Because China has two
billion people, he argued, and companies seek markets. While
Uganda could not compete alone (it was too small), and
individual tribes even less so, larger African groupings
could and should compete on the world stage. Provided the
chauvinisms of tribe and religion were resolved, he
explained, the 750 million people in the African Union would
have much stronger diplomatic and economic bargaining power
(collectively more than the sum of their individual parts).
Museveni laughed as he noted that he, as a Head of State,
regularly had to go begging for South Africa's support
whenever he made an international effort because Uganda was
simply too small to go it alone.

6. Turning to resources and value-added products, Museveni
recounted that tobacco growers in the West Nile area had
demanded part of the revenue from taxes on cigarette sales
since they grew the crops. He explained to the growers that
they would not get additional revenue; the consumers buying
the cigarettes were the real source of the wealth. Comparing
this to Nigeria's oil revenue allocation debate and arguing
that the wrong topic was being debated, Museveni emphasized
that oil was not the wealth of Nigeria, but its large
population. Nigeria's strength was its human capital and its
120m strong market, provided that people received education
and had enough individual wealth to be consumers. For
success in development, he stated, one needs three things:
educated people, fresh water, and arable land. Dismissing
the importance of oil, he proclaimed, "Agriculture is the
everlasting petroleum."

7. However, as long as Africans fell victim to
inter-religious and inter-communal conflicts, Africa would
not develop as an integrated unit, Museveni emphasized.
Africa must avoid the kinds of conflict seen in the Middle
East, Museveni argued. What do you care if someone else eats
pork, or is from a different tribe -- what you should care
about is whether he will buy what you are selling. But
instead of talking about trade and access to markets,
Museveni lamented, Africans are talking about pork.
Emphasizing his point, Museveni said he had become the first
Christian in his family in 1947. However, he flatly stated
that at the Durban conference on racism, he had declared that
he was considering returning to his local tribe's religion,
because, "back at my home, we never cared what anyone else

8. COMMENT: Somewhat light in its delivery, Museveni's
speech, containing many nuggets for his Nigerian audience was
well-received. Nigerian dependence on oil puts the country
at economic risk should shocks occur in world petroleum
prices. Privatization and diversification into non-oil
sectors have been central tenets of the Obasanjo
Administration, but globalization and privatization have been
viewed as strictures imposed by the International Financial
Institutions and Western states. Another African leader
carries more credibility than Western leaders in Nigeria when
discussing the benefits of free markets. More importantly,
Museveni's strong statements against inter-communal and
inter-religious conflict are sorely needed here, as events of
the past few years in Kaduna, Jos, Lagos and elsewhere have
clearly and sanguinely demonstrated.

© Scoop Media

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