Cablegate: Usaid Success Stories Surprise Nigerians, Counter
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 ABUJA 001679
STATE FOR AF/PD, AF/W, AF/RA, IIP/G/AF, IIP/T/D, HR,
IIP/T/GIC, IIP/T/PS, IIP/T/SV
LAGOS FOR PAS, POL, ECON, FAS, FCS, DAO, FBI, USSS, DEA,
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECPS KPAO NI OEXC OIIP OPRC
SUBJECT: USAID SUCCESS STORIES SURPRISE NIGERIANS, COUNTER
ANTI-AMERICAN VIEWS: PART ONE
Ref: State 93896
1. Summary. Nigerians reacting to Mission-sponsored media
reports June - September 2003 on U.S.-Nigeria partnership
successes on health, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, education, and
conflict resolution, say they are amazed at the level of
support given to Nigeria by the U.S. Government. They
expressed similar sentiments on their assessment of media
reports on the Ambassador's Self-Help and the Ambassador's
Girl Scholarship programs, as well as the Widernet's
university interconnectivity program. The positive impact
of the success stories was clearly evident during the
recent defeat of stiff conservative northern opposition to
the August polio vaccination rounds. Reactions have been
very positive on USAID's contributions towards revival of
agriculture, especially gum arabic trade, and the LEAP
program to upgrade primary educational standards in
northern Nigeria. The Basketball for Peace Project is
another success story that Nigerians say they value greatly
because the program targets jobless youths in the crisis-
prone Kaduna State. Radio listeners, television viewers
and Hausa readers in 19 northern States, including
conservative Muslim radicals in Nasarawa, Kano, Kaduna,
Sokoto, Katsina, Borno, Plateau, Zamfara, and Jigawa
States, say the success stories surprised them because they
never knew the U.S. was doing so much for Nigeria.
Hopefully, these images may change some of their negative
views about the U.S. End Summary.
2. DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY: Between June and September
2003, the Embassy's Public Affairs Section facilitated a
series of radio, television and print success stories on
national, regional and local media, promoting American
generosity, and countering anti-American views in
conservative Muslim communities in northern Nigeria. The
project was implemented with IIP and PA funding (reftel).
This is a preliminary report. Reactions to the success
stories are still being received, and more media reports on
other programs, including HIV/AIDS and the Ambassador's
Girl Scholarship programs, are still being aired. PAS
Lagos is still compiling a report. These will be reported
3. Success Stories coverage by Category:
August 17-September 11, 2003, (60-second) polio eradication
jingle (60 slots) in Hausa on Katsina State Radio, using
materials provided by USAID to explain examples of success
including small pox.
August 26, 2003, "Polio Eradication: A shared
responsibility" (25-minute National Television (NTA)
Documentary, featured USAID's Nigerian Health partners'
countering allegations by some Muslim leaders that the
polio vaccine contains birth control medicationto reduce
northern Muslim populations.
September 6, 11, and 13, 2003, "Nigerian Expert says Polio
vaccine is safe, USAID deserves praise for leading the
social mobilization strategy to eradicate polio in the
north" (25-minute news documentary on Sokoto State
Television, featured interviews with USAID, UNICEF and WHO
September 10, 2003, "Polio can render the child invalid for
life" (5-minute news report in English and Hausa on Sokoto
State Television, featured USAID's Kano office coordinator,
Halima Ben Umar, explaining that the Agency's effort is to
ensure polio eradication as part of a global campaign, not
population control. She emphasized that among other
things, the USAID is working with local government
mobilization committees on advocacy and sensitivitytraining
for town criers, vaccinators and district coordinators.
September 10, 2003, "Muslim viral expert debunks
allegations of impurities in the polio vaccine" (5-minute
news report and interview in English and Hausa on Katsina
State Television. The report featured Dr. Hassan
Rafindadi, a Muslim Consultant Pathologist, who had
conducted an independent analysis of the polio vaccine, and
pronounced it safe and free from any impurities or HIV
September 11, 2003, "Sokoto State Governor changes mind on
polio vaccination" (5-minute report on National Television
NTA, featured Sokoto State Governor pledging support for
the polio program. The report also featured USAID's Garba
Abdu, emphasizing the USAID's other Health contributions to
ensure the survival of the Nigerian child.
September 12, 2003, "Immunize your children, traditional
rulers tell their communities" (60-second follow-up news
report in English and Hausa on Sokoto State Television, in
reaction to USAID story on polio eradication mobilization
September 15, 2003, "Immunization, the sure way forward"
(25-minute documentary on National Television (NTA),
praising USAID contributions to child survival programs,
including polio eradication efforts in Nigeria.
August 17 eptember 11, 2003, (60-second) polio
eradication jingle (80 slots) in Hausa on Katsina State
Radio, using materials provided by USAID and voices of
traditional rulers to explain examples of success including
September 9, 2003, "Zamfara Local Government Chairman
praises USAID contributions to polio eradication in
northern Nigeria" (5-minute news report on Zamfara State
Radio, a Shari'a State and northern Nigeria's most
consistent critic of U.S. programs and policies. The
report featured government officials and community leaders
acknowledging USAID's generosity, and the good work other
donor agencies had done with their Nigerian partners in the
September 16, 2003, "Yaro Masomin Babba" (child survival)
(26-minute Hausa language program, repeated twice) on the
north's most-listened to radio station FRCN Kaduna,
featured USAID contributions to child survival in Nigeria,
including polio eradication effort.
September 10, 2003, "Your children stand a risk of
permanent disability" (2-minute news report, featured
Sokoto State Chief Medical Director urging parents to
participate fully in the polio eradication campaign as
follow-up reaction to USAID success story on polio.
August 22, 2003 "Al-Mizan," (first segment, full-page
articles in Hausa) "The truth about polio," "Polio vaccine
is safe says USAID, featured the most balanced report ever
written by the most anti-American newspaper in the north.
PAS Abuja provided USAID's background materials on polio
and an interview with USAID's Garba Abdu on the agency's-
led child survival success in northern Nigeria, which
countered allegations that the polio vaccine contains
impurities including birth control substances and HIV
September 12, 2003' "Al-Mizan," (second segment, full-page
articles in Hausa) "Polio vaccine is safe says USAID," "We
have not seen any evidence of harm in the polio vaccine
says Muslim cleric Sheikh Sanusi Gumbi," used materials
provided by USAID, including the agency's success in other
child survival advocacy programs.
September 14, 2003, "Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo," (2-page
interview with USAID's Garba Abdu in Hausa) entitled "USAID
polio success, history of the disease," featured background
materials provided by PAS Abuja and USAID.
IMPACT: A positive response to the August polio
immunization rounds, a better understanding of USAID
contributions to polio success, and a change of attitude by
some prominent northern religious leaders and institutions
that were initially opposed to the program. Sheikh Sanusi
Gumbi, a well-respected Muslim cleric based in Kaduna said
in an extensive interview after the polio success story ran
in Al-Mizan (9/12), "We have not seen any evidence of harm
in the Polio Vaccine. America is doing a wonderful job
helping the world's needy. It cannot spend its money just
to harm children through the polio immunization program.
We should all commend its contributions to our national
development, especially the eradication of other dangerous
diseases such as small pox." Zamfara State Health
Commissioner, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, changed his earlier
opposition to the polio program. He commended USAID,
UNICEF, WHO and other International implementing partners,
and asked Zamfara citizens to cooperate. (Zamfara was the
first northern State to ask its citizens not to participate
in the polio vaccination exercise)
EDUCATION: Literacy Enhancement Assistance Program (LEAP)
August 19, 2003, (3-minute Kano State Television news
reports in English and Hausa), featured community leaders
commending USAID-assisted LEAP program in Kano State with a
sound bite stating, "it will make generations responsible
and worthy ambassadors of the society."
August 20, 2003, (5-minute Kano State Television news
reports in English and Hausa) on LEAP's Literacy and
Numeracy Agenda and the Local Government Authority Fora in
Tsanyawa and Municipal Local Government areas of Kano
August 20, 2003, (5-minute Nasarawa State Television news
report on LEAP success in Doma Local Government area,
featured Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly
commending the USG for "re-kindling hope in our children's
future." The Speaker donated two motorcycles for school
inspection in appreciation of LEAP students' achievements.
August 25, 2003, (3-minute National Television (NTA) news
feature) on rural-based program "Grassroots," featured
USAID's Melinda Taylor in a remote village school providing
background, funding details and Nigerian partnership
information on LEAP to local community and the PTA
leadership in Nasarawa State.
August 28, 2003, "LEAPing into the future," (5-minute NTA
Network News report) on LEAP success, featured students in
Doma Local Government primary schools demonstrating their
LEAP-motivated literacy and numeracy skills to the
admiration of their satisfied teachers and parents.
August 20, 2003, (5-minute Nasarawa Broadcasting Service
News report) on LEAP success in Doma Local Government area,
featured Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly
commending USAID's LEAP success and urging community
leaders to support the program by donating funds and
materials in appreciation just as he did with the donation
of two motorcycles for school inspection.
August 19, 2003, "New Nigerian," (a quarter page article)
background and funding information on LEAP) with materials
provided by USAID, and LEAP implementing partners,
Education Development Center (EDC), World Education
International (WEI), and Research Triangle Institute (RTI).
August 26, 2003, "New Nigerian," (half page) "NGOs want
LEAP to cover vocational training," featured interviews
with NGGO leaders commending LEAP success and contributions
to "unprecedented" enrolment figures in Kano schools.
September 2, 2003, "New Nigerian," (Full page, special
report) entitled "LEAPing over illiteracy hurdle," featured
LEAP participating teachers testimonies that LEAP has
improved the quality of teaching in the benefiting schools.
IMPACT: The impact of the LEAP success is summed up in the
words of Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly,
Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, during the Assembly's session on
August 22, in response to the story carried the previous
day by the Nasarawa State Broadcasting Service. He said,
"Three years ago I was very worried about the future of
education, especially in Doma Local Government. However,
what I have seen and heard about LEAP yesterday has given
me the assurance that the future of LEAP students is
bright. We are therefore challenged to secure that bright
future and replicate it in other schools within Nasarawa
State through appropriate legislation." "Time and history
will not erase this from our memory" said Alhaji Alhassan
Abdullahi, a parent at Fadimatu Islamiyya School, Kano,
referring to the LEAP program on a call-in program on Radio
Kano (8/23). NTA reporter, Moji Makanjuola, said that
since she did the story, NTA has received several requests
from parents who want their children relocated to USAID-
assisted LEAP schools.
GUM ARABIC PROGRAM
September 6, 2003, (2-minute news report in English and
Hausa) on Radio Kano, featured Coordinator of USAID-
assisted Gum Arabic Program, Yakasai, commending USAID for
creating new hope in agribusiness for northern farmers and
Gum Arabic exporters.
September 7 & 8, 2003, (5-minute, lead story in English and
Hausa) on FRCN Kaduna, reported, as a "USG-assisted
agricultural revolution in the north" by northern Nigeria's
most-listened to radio station.
September 6, 2003, "Weekly Trust," (5-inch story with News
Agency (NAN) report), featured Bello Dantata, Assistant
National Secretary of the National Association of Gum
Arabic Producers and Processors of Nigeria, in a story
entitled "Nigeria exports 11,000 tons of Gum Arabic."
Dantata praised USAID for the success of the Gum Arabic
Program, adding, "The program has helped Nigerian gum
arabic producers gain acceptability in the world market."
September 8, 2003, "The Triumph'" (5-inch story with News
Agency (NAN) report) "Nigeria exports 11,000 tons of Gum
Arabic," success attributed to USAID-assisted Gum Arabic
SEED AND FOOD SECURITY PROGRAM
September 7 & 8, 2003, (5-minute, lead story) on FRCN
Kaduna in English and Hausa, featured field interviews with
local farmers overwhelmed with joy overtheir USAID-
increased agricultural incomes, and surprised that America
cares even for small-holder farmers like them.
September 8, 2003, "The Triumph," (bold-caption, quarter
page story) "USAID to boost Agriculture in Nigeria" with
quotes from USAID's Andrew Levin, "We at the USAID realize
that in order for Nigeria to grow economically, agriculture
is the sector where there is an ample opportunity and
chance to boost the economy, to improve food security, and
generate broader economic growth."
August 27, 2003, "The Path," (half page) report entitled
"USAID boosts agriculture in Nigeria, featured statement by
USAID Mission Director, Dawn Liberi, during a courtesy call
on Nigeria's Agriculture Minister, and background on USAID-
Nigeria agricultural partnership success.
IMPACT: Outpouring appreciation and gratitude to the U.S.
for a rescue program. FRCN Kaduna reporter, Dhiru Sani
Mohammed, said the station has received several calls from
listeners expressing surprise at the level of U.S. support
for Nigeria's agriculture. He said most of the callers
also asked for information on how to participate in the Gum
Arabic and food security programs.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Basketball for Peace Program
June 21, 2003, (5-minute report) on Nigerian Television
(NTA) Kaduna, reported as a major U.S. contribution to
peaceful elections in the 2003 Nigeria elections in the
June 28, 2003, (5-minute report) on National Television
(NTA) Network News, featured in three different news
segments, including prime time news at 9 pm, reported as a
major U.S. contribution to conflict resolution, and
peaceful elections in 2003 by keeping restive jobless
youths "creatively" engaged.
June 11, 2003, "The Path," (quarter page story) captioned
"Basketball for idle youths," featured background provided
by USAID and photo of the April 17 competition with the
youths at the Embassy compound.
IMPACT: Overwhelmingly positive. NTA Kaduna sports
reporter, Anthony Forson, described the Basketball for
Peace Program as "a major U.S. contribution to peaceful
elections in the 2003 polls in Kaduna State, a state prone
to religious and electoral violence. The National
Secretary of Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON),
Abdulrazaq Suleiman, told NTA that he wants USAID to
introduce the same concept in other sports. Youths in
Kafanchan, another violence-prone town in southern Kaduna
State, want to join the Basketball for Peace Program.
WIDERNET: University Connectivity Program
August 19, 2003, (5-minute news report) on Plateau State
Television, featured shots of donated computers, and
interviews on the impact the WIDERNET program has made to
IT knowledge at the benefiting universities, and its effect
on the university as a better learning environment.
August 21, 2003, (4-minute news report) on National
Television (NTA) prime time Network News at 9 pm, featured
shots of donated computers at the University of Ibadan, and
comments on the program's benefits to the university
August 24, 2003, (5-minute news report) on National
Television (NTA) prime time Network News at 9 pm, featured
WIDERNET donated computers to University of Jos, and
interviews with faculty commending WIDERNET for the
initiative and the difference it has made to learning at
July 29, 2003, (5-minute news report) on FRCN Ibadan
channel, featured background information on the WIDERNET
program, and interviews with Professor Fagbemi, describing
the program as an excellent innovation that has benefited
the university community immensely.
August 19, 2003, (2-minute news report) on Plateau Radio,
featured background materials provided by WIDERNET, and
interviews with Professor Liverpool, Coordinator of the Jos
IMPACT: Overwhelming. PAS Coordinator of the Nigerian-
America Information Initiative (NAII), Dalhatu Hamza, said
he received several calls from university administrators
around the country commending the WIDERNET success as "an
excellent innovation." Professor Njoku and Professor Uvah,
both Directors at the National Universities Commission
(NUC) requested extension of the WIDERNET program to other
4. Results: Unprecedented and highly positive. It has
established better linkages between the Nigerian media and
USG agencies operating in Nigeria, which we hope will
continue in the future.
Comment: The success story initiative has gone far to
broaden Nigerian public awareness regarding the scope of
U.S. government assistance efforts in Nigeria. We also
successfully used the initiative to facilitate greater
public focus on the lingering resistance to polio
eradication efforts in northern Nigeria. The lack of an
effective government media and public education campaign
has played a role in the continuing prevalence of polio and
lack of public acceptance in some states. The Mission's
polio programs underscored USG financial support to the
multilateral eradication program underway in Nigeria, but
also provided the public with reliable medical information
to counter the claims that the vaccine is unsafe, or may
contain family planning medication or the HIV/AIDS virus.
We are still compiling response information from media
outlets who have run success stories, and will send in a
follow-on cable. End comment.