Cablegate: Disgruntlement in the National Assembly
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS ABUJA 001557
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PINR NI
SUBJECT: DISGRUNTLEMENT IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
REF: ABUJA 1515
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTRANET OR INTERNET.
1. (SBU) Growing National Assembly discontent over recent
moves by President Obasanjo led to a quickly suppressed and
publicly denied, August 21 attempt to impeach House Speaker
Aminu Bello Masari. Obasanjo had installed Masari and the
Senate President, then forced his own selections for
committee positions through the new Assembly leadership and
vetoed potential staff for the Senators and Representatives.
The GON also changed from providing Members with housing and
vehicles to giving them allowances instead -- which will be a
pain for them given the artificially high Abuja cost of
living -- and then took away customary police bodyguards from
all members except the Senate President, Speaker of the House
and their deputies (reftel).
2. (SBU) All Members from the PDP, just under a
three-quarters majority in both House and Senate, owe their
seats to the party, and most to some degree to the President.
About two-thirds of the Representatives are new this
session; most coming from the same party, the ruling PDP, as
those they replaced. The major turnover served to remind
legislators how precarious their positions are and how much
they depend on the President. Heavily in debt financially
from the campaign, many also owe various political godfathers
and are defending against legal challenges to their elections.
3. (SBU) Comment: Obasanjo blamed many of his troubles in
his first civilian term on a recalcitrant Assembly that
attempted to impeach him, and may be taking steps to show the
new Assembly who is the boss. They are in turn are irritated
with the chains they willingly used to bind themselves to the
President through the PDP in this election. It remains to be
seen whether they will begin to form alliances with each
other, as many state governors have, or fall grousingly in
line under the President.