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Cablegate: Bauchi: A State That Works

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001081

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR EAID ECON PREL NI
SUBJECT: BAUCHI: A STATE THAT WORKS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
Summary


1. (SBU) Ambassador Jeter visited Bauchi State from February
10-12, accompanied by USAID A/DIR Suggs and Pol/OFF Kinder.
In addition to private meetings with Governor Mu'azu, the
Ambassador and his team visited several development projects
including the Yankari Game Reserve, paid a courtesy call on
the Emir, attended a state banquet and addressed the Bauchi
State Executive Council. The Ambassador also visited four
local industries. The trip was a success on two major
fronts: First, it dispelled perceptions of USG indifference
toward Northern Nigeria; secondly it enabled us to see
first-hand the accomplishments of a state that works. End
Summary


Introduction


2.(SBU) Ending a ten year hiatus since the last
Ambassadorial visit, Ambassador Jeter and Embassy staff
visited Bauchi February 10th. While in Bauchi, the
Ambassador received a bird's eye view of the many
developmental projects being undertaken by the State.


A State on the Move


3.(U) The Bauchi State Government has implemented a number of
development projects aimed at reviving the state's agrarian
economy and improving the welfare of the State's poor. Major
projects in the areas of rural road construction, village
electrification, primary and secondary health care, and
education are among the State's major accomplishments.
Progress on rural road and electrification projects was
evident as the team traveled far from Bauchi's capital.
While rural electrificaion is often rare in Nigeria and in
West Africa in general, over 100 of Bauchi's 200 villages
have electricity. The roads the team traveled were also in
extraordinarily good shape.


4.(U) The Mission group also visited the State Hospital. The
hospital was attractive and well equipped. Some Nigerian
hospitals are well equipped, but lack adequately trained
staff to operate the equipment. Governor Mu'azu has avoided
this trap by using the lure of State pride and his personal
charisma to attract qualified medical personnel to Bauchi,
including professional indigenes of the State who have
returned from overseas.


5.(U) The team also visited one of the Bauchi's three new
model schools. The schools were established to address an
abysmal record of academic achievement in the State's primary
and secondary schools. According to Governor Mu'azu, only
eight of the 8,000 students passed who sat for the Senior
Secondary School Certificate Examination in 1999. Soon
thereafter, the Governor began a program to revamp the entire
state school system. The model schools represent one step in
this process. The model schools enroll the state's "best and
brightest", in order to train and prepare the most gifted
students for future leadership positions within Bauchi and
throughout Nigeria. The team visited the girls' magnet
school where they were greeted by a lively school body. What
the school lacked in facilities, the students made up with
enthusiasm. The Ambassador used this occasion to inform the
government of The Ambassador's Special Self- Help Program,
and suggested the school apply to the program to procure
reference books for its library.


Come To Bauchi


6.(U) Bauchi projects itself as "the Pearl of Tourism". While
the sobriquet may be a bit hyperbolic, there is a grain of
truth to it. Showcasing Bauchi's tourist industry, senior
State government officials expertly served as tour guides to
Yankari Game Park. The game park has been under federal
management since 1976. According to Mu'azu, the number of
visitors has declined during this period and the central
government has done precious little to halt this slide or to
maintain the facility. Governor Mu'azu believes that the
state can do better and is attempting to regain control. He
claims to have potential investors prepared to finance
improvements, once the park is handed to the State
government. Mu'azu is optimistic that a radical facelift can
be achieved in two years. The State has already begun
modernizing guest accommodations, which when completed will
offer a much more attractive and comfortable option for
tourists. The park has much potential, with over 50 species
of wild animals and a plethora of wild birds. While it will
never rival the parks of Southern and Eastern Africa,
Yankari's potential to attract domestic and regional tourists
is large.


Putting the People to Work


7.(U) Visiting four local business ventures, the Embassy
group was able to see the challenges to Bauchi's development
but also the state's potential, particularly in
agro-industry.
8.(U) The Bauchi meat processing plant has received a TDA
grant to conduct a feasibility study on the steps needed to
modernize the facility and bring it to full production. The
cattle industry is an important sector of Bauchi's economy,
yet the plant is barely functioning, processing less than a
score of cattle each day. A/DIR Suggs raised the possibility
of using USAID's Farmer-to-Farmer program to bring
consultants to advise on management of the plant. The
current facilities are sound but much of the equipment, while
serviceable, is outdated. Once the study is complete and the
plant is retooled, the marriage of cattle-rearing and
industry should be a good one. Revival of the meat
processing plant will open significant export opportunities
for Bauchi, including halal meat exports to traditional
markets in North Africa and perhaps the Middle East.


9.(U) The Bauchi Fertilizer Blending Company is another
industry not yet meeting its full potential. Prior to
Governor Mu'azu taking office, fertilizer was distributed
based on personal loyalties rather than utility or
maximization of output. As a result, the company fell
dormant. Noting that much of Bauchi's future lay in
agriculture, the Governor arranged a N2.5 million soft loan
for the company, which returned to operation during his first
year in office. Morover, the governor has recently renewed
subsidies to state farmers and established other controls to
ensure equitable distribution.


10.(U) The Ambassador also visited the Ramadan printing
company. The company was fully operable, with every
available space filled with functioning equipment and busy
employees. The quality of the work was high. Although it
was February, the company was busy preparing 2002 calendars.
There is no way of knowing if the printer was behind or if
the orders came in late. The printers, however, showed that
they can move quickly by producing a booklet of the Embassy's
visit prior to departure on February 12.


11.(U) The last industry visited was Alind Nigeria,Ltd.,
makers of cable and conductors. This company received a loan
of N3.5 million from the Bauchi State Government. The
company's physical plant was fairly modern; however, it
seemed poorly staffed and appeared to be at partial
production.


Governor Mu'azu--Trying Hard


12.(SBU) Governor Mu'azu is the main force behind this
activity. A self-made, wealthy businessman, Mu'azu has a
nationwide reputation as a hard worker. This was evident
when he returned to work for several hours after the State
banquet he hosted for Ambassador Jeter, which lasted until
11pm. The Governor also has a reputation for fairness--only
awarding contracts to companies with proven records, rather
than using contracts to curry political favors. Mu'azu has
also surrounded himself with a progressive, well-educated and
dedicated State Council. The only woman on the Council, an
activist Muslim, spoke out forcefully on the need for more
female representation on the Executive Council and gently
chided Governor Mu'azu for not doing more to make this
happen. State workers are paid on time and Mu'azu has also
repaid much of the salary arrears due civil servants from
previous administrations. A member of the PDP, Mu'azu
campaigned hard for President Obasanjo during the last
election and helped him carry the Northeast. He believes
that President Obasanjo can win the 2003 election, but must
recover from the mistakes he has made handling recent crises,
particularly the explosions in Lagos. Young, intelligent and
personable Mu'azu is frequently mentioned as a potential
presidential candidate for 2007 and beyond.


Comment


13.(U) With corruption, violence, and a basic lack of
infrastructure prevalent in too many areas throughout
Nigeria, the trip to Bauchi state was a welcome change. We
were able to see many examples of how State and Local
government in Nigeria can be a catalyst to make things work
if the requisite political will is present. No doubt there
remains much to do in Bauchi; however, important first steps
have been taken on what will be a long path to real
development. Mu'azu is proud of these achievements.


14.(SBU) The Ambassador was able to encourage the Governor
and his Council to continue their hard work, and offered to
assist where possible. In the final analysis this trip
helped to eliminate the perception that the USG is
disinterested in Bauchi, and more generally the North.
Moreover, the trip was helpful in reinforcing our growing
perception that development is more likely to occur when
initiated at the local and state levels in Nigeria,
particularly when there is good governance,honest leadership
and public-private partnership.
Jeter

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