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Cablegate: Nigeria: Former Unga President Garba Dies

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. Major General Joseph Nanven Garba (retired) died Saturday
morning, 1 June 2002, of undetermined causes. He was 58.
Surviving him are Kate, his wife of six months (and companion
for five years before that), five daughters and one son (born
to a former wife, Evelyn). Funeral arrangements have not yet
been announced, though family friends believe Saturday, 15
June the most likely date. President Obasanjo is likely to

2. As commander of the Brigade of Guards in 1975, Garba was
one of the "five colonels" who executed the bloodless coup
that toppled the increasingly rudderless regime of General
Yakubu Gowon. The colonels asked the triumvirate of Murtala
Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo and Theophilus Danjuma to assume
power. Murtala, Obasanjo and Danjuma pledged to transfer
power to an elected civilian government by 1979. Garba
became Nigeria's Commissioner for External Affairs. Nigeria
was increasingly active in world affairs during Garba's
tenure, providing support to liberation struggles in
Zimbabwe, South Africa and the remaining European colonies on
the African continent. He left that position in 1978 to take
command of the Nigerian Defence Academy. He was retired as a
Major General in 1980 by the elected Shagari government.

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3. He received a Masters Degree in Public Administration
from Harvard in 1983. When military rule returned in 1984,
Garba became Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the United
Nations, a position he held until 1989. During that period,
he was also Chairman, United Nations Special Committee
Against Apartheid. He was President of the UNGA for the
1991-92 term.

4. In 2000, Garba became Director-General of the Nigerian
Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), the
position he held until his death. The NIPSS campus outside
of Jos (about three hours by road from Abuja) has become a
major center for Government of Nigeria retreats. Garba's
dream was to make it a world-class seminar site, and he had
received word from President Obasanjo shortly before his
death that the NIPSS bid to host the Commonwealth Heads of
Government retreat in 2003 had prevailed over two rivals.

5. At a private dinner at his Abuja residence 27 May, Garba
was relaxed and expansive, holding forth on a broad range of
subjects. Hosting the CHOGM retreat, however, was uppermost
in his mind. He had not yet heard from Obasanjo at that time
but was confident NIPSS was the only choice. He relished the
work that would go into planning the event and the permanent
improvements to NIPSS facilities that would result.

6. Born 17 July 1943 in Langtang, a rural part of Plateau
State, Garba was raised a Catholic and attended school in
Shendam. He was dismissive of dancing and drumming in
church, voicing a preference for Gregorian Chants and the
Latin Mass. The late Archbishop of Jos, Gabriel Ganaka, one
of Nigerian Catholicism's most conservative voices was a
close friend. Though several years younger than President
Obasanjo and not one of his closest advisors, Garba was among
the President's friends and probably exercised some influence.

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