Cablegate: Nigeria: Keeping the Dialogue Going: Ambassador,

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

Sensitive but Unclassified -- Protect Accordingly

1. (SBU) Introduction and Summary: Ambassador discussed with
Aviation Minister Kema Chikwe security procedures at Murtala
Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), the requirements that
needed to be met before U.S. INS assistance can be reinstated
at MMIA, the distribution to Nigerian air carriers of the FBI
watch list, an effort by World Airways to extend wet-lease
service to Nigeria, and the difficulties Lockheed Martin
allegedly has confronted in submitting a bid to the Ministry
for radar equipment.

2. (SBU) Minister Chikwe deeply regretted the recent incident
when an INS official was assaulted at MMIA and pledged to
provide more security personnel at South African Airways
(SAA) check-in and boarding areas. She also promised to
establish a Magistrate Court at the airport to prosecute
passengers who present fraudulent documents. Although no
Nigerian carriers currently offer direct air service to the
U.S., an unclassified version of the FBI watch list was
provided to the Minster.

3. (SBU) The Minister refused to confirm whether the Ministry
had approved a request by World Airways to offer U.S. to
Lagos service; instead, she echoed a familiar refrain about
how the foreign operators posed an unfair challenge to her
effort to revive (moribund) Nigerian Airways. The Minister
stated Lockheed Martin had not submitted a tender bid on an
air navigation system but had instead sent a Memorandum of
Agreement that the Ministry found unacceptable. She said
Lockheed Martin did not appear "serious" about bidding on the
project, but the Ministry would in any case extend the bid
deadline to November 15 to try to accommodate them. End

INS Assistance to SAA: How to Get It Back

4. (SBU) On October 9, Ambassador Jeter, accompanied by
Econoff, conveyed to Minister Chikwe the results of his
recent discussions with the INS Commissioner and other INS
Officials in Washington. The Ambassador explained that the
September 7 incident at MMIA (when an INS official had been
physically assaulted during screening procedures)
demonstrated the need for more active airport security in the
screening process. INS would not be able to assist Nigerian
Immigration Service or SAA security personnel, the Ambassador
emphasized, without Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria
(FAAN) guarantees of the safety of INS personnel and a signed
bilateral MOU. INS and the Department of State, the
Ambassador noted, were working on the terms of a proposed MOU
which would provide the parameters of INS assistance at MMIA.
But he reiterated the INS officers would limit their
assistance to screening documents. If INS officials were to
return to MMIA, they would only serve in an advisory capacity
and not have the power to retain suspected malafide
documents, either U.S. or Nigerian.

5. (SBU) Minister Chikwe was visibly upset about the
September 7 incident. She admitted that she was personally
unhappy with FAAN security since they were not standing by to
intervene when passengers threatened immigration officials,
airline staff, or other passengers. She also agreed FAAN
security officers should be responsible for retaining
suspected fraudulent documents, handed to them by immigration
officers. The Minister announced she planned to inaugurate
this month a Magistrate's Court at MMIA to prosecute cases of
document fraud, "touting", and other crimes.

6. (SBU) Shortly thereafter, Minster Chikwe called in FAAN's
Managing Director to demand he supply additional security
officers at the SAA check-in and boarding areas. She invited
the FAAN Aviation Security Officer and Director of Airport
Operations to discuss altering the physical terminal layout
of the immediate SAA check-in area to separate passengers
from non-passengers. Although the FAAN officers noted they
were understaffed, they agreed to provide additional officers
at both SAA check-in and boarding. The officials suggested
adding desks at the boarding gate to conduct document
screening immediately before passenger departure. The
Minister then appealed to the Ambassador to bring INS back to

FAA Airport Security Inspection
7. (SBU) The Ambassador reviewed with Minister Chikwe the
results of a recent FAA assessment on how SAA and FAAN were
complying with new ICAO/FAA security directives. On September
28, visiting FAA Aviation Specialist James Burrell determined
that SAA and FAAN were generally in compliance with the FAA
security directives. However, Burrell was concerned that the
physical layout of the screening area hindered airport staff
from inspecting passengers and their baggage continually as
the FAA directives require. He recommended that FAAN provide
additional tables to perform baggage inspection. Burrell had
also noted that Pathfinder, SAA's security contractor, did
not adequately pre-inspect the airplane cabin before allowing
passengers to board. Minister Chikwe concurred positively to
all these points. She agreed to discuss how to redesign the
check-in area to facilitate check-in and baggage screening.

The FBI Watch-list

8. (SBU) The Ambassador inquired whether airlines operating
from Nigeria had access to the latest FBI Watch-List. The
Minster responded that she was uncertain whether all airlines
had the Watch-List. She herself did not have a copy but
assumed that the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) would
have it. (Comment: They do. Post later delivered a
non-sensitive copy of the list to the Minister. End Comment.)
Ambassador pointed out that the FAA had distributed the list
to the headquarters of airlines with direct flights to the
U.S., including to SAA Headquarters in Johannesburg. SAA is
currently the only carrier flying direct between Nigeria and
the U.S.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Status of SAA-NA Flight Agreement and World Airways
--------------------------------------------- ------

9. (SBU) Ambassador Jeter inquired whether government-owned
Nigerian Airways (NA) would likely extend its partnership
with South African Airways on service to JFK. The Minister
commented that Nigerian Airways (read: the Minister) is not
happy with the partnership. Many here, she noted, blame South
African Airways for allegedly refusing to treat a Nigerian
man who died on board the flight. This incident, the
Minister said, may influence the Ministry to review very
carefully an agreement to extend the Nigerian Airways/South
African Airways partnership for another two years.

10. (SBU) Jeter informed the Minister that U.S. Department of
Transportation had just granted approval to World Airways to
wet-lease airplanes to an unnamed African carrier for service
between Lagos and either New York, Baltimore, or Atlanta.
While not saying whether the GON had approved the route, the
Minister instead returned to an old refrain about how
competing service further challenges the "revitalization" of
Nigerian Airways. She further criticized the International
Finance Corporation (IFC) because it did not want the GON to
invest in the carrier. Instead, she inferred, the IFC wanted
the Ministry to run Nigerian Airways into the ground so
foreign carriers could benefit from the privatization of the
airline. She admitted that "a culture of mismanagement and
corruption" had destroyed NA, but she argued the airline only
needed "technical assistance and good management." She
concluded by saying that the reason the National Assembly
chose to phase in Open Skies until 2006 was to provide
Nigerian Airways breathing space from competition from
foreign carriers.

Lockheed Martin Bid for Radar Equipment

11. (SBU) Ambassador Jeter informed the Minister that he had
received an inquiry from Lockheed Martin regarding a bid they
made on radar contracts with the Ministry. According to the
company, the Ministry had "ignored" Lockheed's bid although
the company had beaten an "impossible" (September 16)
deadline to submit their proposal. Furthermore, Lockheed
Martin believed the Ministry had requested bids for a
regional air navigation system, but the Ministry later
informed them that it only wanted radar equipment and
installation services. Lockheed claimed it had also submitted
a Memorandum of Agreement to finance the cost of the
equipment and services.

12. (SBU) The Minister claimed she had not received a bid
from Lockheed Martin. Moreover, the proposed Memorandum of
Agreement was unacceptable because the GON was unwilling to
guarantee a loan to purchase the equipment. The Ministry, she
said, had extended the bid deadline to October 15, but still
had not received a bid from Lockheed Martin who, she
asserted, was "not serious". Chikwe claimed the company
wanted to come to Nigeria to survey the airport so that they
could determine the best air navigation system for Nigeria.
The Ministry was determined to purchase a system capable of
being integrated with navigation systems elsewhere in West
Africa which would allow Nigeria to become a hub for regional
air traffic. She indicated several bids had been received by
the Ministry, including from Marconi and British Aerospace.
However, the Ministry now planned to extend the deadline to
November 15 and Lockheed Martin still had an opportunity to
submit a bid on the air navigation system.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
Comment: Keeping the Momentum on Security Enhancement at MMIA
--------------------------------------------- -----------

13. (SBU) The Minister appeared to be very determined to
resolve the outstanding security issues at MMIA and provide
the proper environment for INS's return. But this is not the
first time the subject of MMIA security has been discussed
with the Minister and we will continue to monitor events
closely at the airport for signs of improvement. A
suggestion by the Ambassador for senior USG, GON, and South
African High Commission officials to observe activities at
the SAA counter and boarding gate was very well received. We
do note that despite the security problems cited above, the
GON has made tremendous strides in improving the overall
security and safety posture at MMIA over the last two years.

14. (SBU) Chikwe's criticism of SAA should be placed in
context. Neither SAA nor the GON has treated the relationship
like a newly wedded couple. However, both airlines appear to
be making money and continued direct service to the U.S. is a
top priority for the GON. The first anniversary of the
SAA/NA service is in February and posturing by the GON to
obtain concessions from SAA may be behind Chikwe's
statements. Meanwhile, privatization of Nigerian Airways
keeps moving backwards. The new date to privatize Nigerian
Airways is set for December 2002. However, even before the
events of September 11, the future of Nigerian Airways was at
best tenuous. We are doubtful if Nigerian Airways will meet
the new deadline. The International Finance Corporation,
which earlier this year relinquished its advisory role on
Nigerian Airways privatization, opposed the delays,
interference, and other hurdles put in the way of Nigerian
Airways privatization process.

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