Cablegate: Book Launch for Babangida's Presidential Campaign

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

291831Z Aug 03





E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) CDA was invited to an August 27 event "launching a
book by ex-Minister of the Interior John Shagaya." There was
a book, but the affair was clearly more intended to help
launch the candidacy of former President Babangida in 2007.

2. (SBU) 2003 and potential 2007 candidate Mohammedu Buhari,
who attended the event, clearly saw it that way too. Several
luminaries among the hundreds who attended were invited to
come to the microphone in this rally. Buhari went up and
said in a challenging tone "This was to be a book launch, but
it looks as if we are launching a man (Babangida) instead.
Many of Buhari's remarks seemed to suggest he would be
Babangida's opponent in 2007, and despite the nature of the
event there was considerable applause for his bellicosity.

3. (SBU) Several others who went to the microphones made
announcement such as buying 5 books for 5 million Naira
(USDOLS 7,690), and there were periodic announcements, as at
a telethon, of others buying numbers of books for inflated
prices. There was a clear implication that much of the
proceeds would be used in Babangida's campaign. The book
itself reads rather like a campaign biography for Babangida.
Other than a perfunctory thanks to the author at the
beginning, Babangida in his own remarks did not address the
book itself but rather gave a campaign address. The three
planks of his campaign were:

-- Expand democracy;
-- Build infrastructure for economic development; and
-- Create economic opportunity for the young and unemployed.

4. (SBU) The affair was also interesting for the number of
Obasanjo administration figures present, including present
Interior Minister Iyorchia Ayu. (Comment: As noted reftel,
Babangida's "exploratory campaign" cuts across existing party
lines. That might be expected, given the loose nature of
Nigeria's political parties and Obasanjo's constitutional
lame-duck status beginning his second term, but many
politicians simply want to stay on good terms with all the
potential 2007 candidates.)

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