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Cablegate: "Two Terms Threatens Democracy And

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

UNCLAS ABUJA 003378

SIPDIS


STATE FOR AF/PD
LAGOS FOR PAS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PBTS PGOV NI
SUBJECT: "TWO TERMS THREATENS DEMOCRACY AND
PEACE" SAYS NIGERIA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.


1. Summary: On November 16, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S.,
Professor Jibril Aminu, said in a press interview that the idea
of two terms for elected officials is a threat to Nigeria's
democracy and peace in the country. Ambassador Aminu, who spoke
on a wide range of issues, reiterated that the North had a pact
with all Presidential candidates before the 1999 elections to
protect the North's interests. Aminu was optimistic that the
Bakassi issue would be settled amicably with Cameroon. He spoke
positively about U.S.-Nigerian relations, and acknowledged that
improved government management could strengthen Nigeria's image.
End Summary.


Nigeria's Ambassador to the U.S. Speaks to the Press
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


2. On November 16, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Professor
Jibril Aminu, gave a three-page interview to the New Nigerian
Weekly, a Kaduna-based, government-owned newspaper. Aminu
confirmed that all the Presidential candidates in 1999 signed an
agreement to support the North's interests, but denied that
President Obasanjo had agreed to a single term in the context of
the discussion. He warned that the two-term issue is a threat to
democracy and peace in Nigeria, and advocated a single five-year
term for the President, State governors, and Chairmen of the
Local Government Councils.


3. Ambassador Aminu said that Nigerian politicians are
dishonestly using ethnicity because "they are not doing anything
for their people." He made generous references to the United
States political system saying: "In the United States you hardly
catch a Congressman on Friday in the evening for any function.
They have gone home. They spend Saturday and a large part of
Sunday working with their own people, visiting, and answering
questions, answering letters and phone calls and e-mails, and
then they come back to Washington. Our people don't do that."


4. Answering a question on how people outside Nigeria,
especially the United Sates, view Nigeria, Ambassador Aminu said,
" You may not believe it but Nigeria is held in a very high
esteem, particularly in the United States." He said there were
problems with the military governments before General Abdulsalami
Abubakar restored the country to democracy. He said the people
of Nigeria have always been recognized and applauded for their
skills adding, "Tens of thousands of Nigerians are living and
working in the United States at the highest level, contributing a
lot to that society."


5. Commenting on the International Court of Justice verdict on
the Bakassi dispute between Nigeria and the Cameroon, Ambassador
Aminu said, "I do not want us to just reject and sit down. I do
not want us to reject, and maybe enter into conflict with
Cameroon, an African state, our sister African state, our
neighbor with whom we shared so many useful experiences in the
past including. much of it being part of Nigeria before. But, I
don't think we should fight them."


6. Asked about the possibility of violence in the 2003 elections,
Ambassador Aminu said, "This is something entirely in our hands.
And I believe, if we all decide to behave ourselves, to reflect
on the dangers, and to reflect on the promises, the opportunities
that lie ahead of this country in a successful election, I think
we can still do it. Professor Aminu, however, expressed
disappointment with the political fighting in the country
remarking, "You know, there is an impression that we lack some
seriousness." He added that outsiders have the impression that
Nigeria's political elites and intelligentsia are not leading and
mismanagement remains an issue for Nigerians to overcome. He
stressed that Nigeria could do well with "the right people in the
right places."


7. Footnote: According to press reports, Aminu has
announced plans to seek a Senate seat in Adamawa in the 2003
elections.


ANDREWS

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