Cablegate: Nigeria: Request for Authority to Sign Bilateral

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. Head of the GON Debt Management Office Legal Division J.O.
Jiya wrote Econcouns on March 6, stating the GON is ready to
sign the bilateral debt rescheduling agreement. Post
forwarded a copy of the latest agreement, prepared in 2001,
to Treasury and State on March 9 (reftel). Because of the
significant time lapse since the agreement was first
negotiated, we understand revisions will be required to ready
the agreement for signature.

2. Jiya told Econoff on April 2 that the agreement had been
delayed within the GON due to a cumbersome approval process
that culminated in a Federal Executive Council (FEC) decision
in February to move forward. Jiya added the FEC had recently
approved a $5.8 billion agreement with the United
Kingdom--that agreement was signed March 9. She said the GON
was eager to conclude agreements with all Paris Club
creditors now. Elections are just around the corner, and
there is no guarantee that a new FEC under a new government
would move quickly, Jiya told Econoff.

3. Comment. Attempts to extract better terms from
creditors--especially the United Kingdom--contributed to the
delay as much, if not more than, the approval process. Now,
with elections around the corner, the Obasanjo Administration
is probably anxious to demonstrate to the public that it is
in serious dialogue with its creditors. In other words, now
is perhaps the best time to respond to the GON's readiness if
we still want the agreement.

4. Post understands that due to health concerns, Adamu
Ciroma--who would likely sign the agreement on behalf of the
GON--will not stay on as Finance Minister even if Obasanjo is
re-elected. Whoever wins the election, the new Finance
Minister and other FEC members may seek to review the
agreement before signing. Post recommends that we take
advantage of this window of opportunity and sign an updated
agreement, as soon as possible, perhaps even on the sidelines
of upcoming IMF/WB meetings in Washington. Post is working to
determine whether Central Bank Governor Sanusi, who will lead
the GON delegation, could sign the agreement. Regardless of
who signs it, the DMO requests the opportunity to review the
technical revisions now being made by Washington agencies.
End Comment.

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