Cablegate: Finance Minister On Reform: Eiti Only a First Step

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. (SBU) Summary: CDA met October 24 with Minister of Finance
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to discuss the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI) and her upcoming trip to the
U.S. Okonjo-Iweala stressed that the GON sees EITI as just
one step of many that must be taken to bring about full GON
transparency. She displayed a recently compiled matrix of
steps the GON plans to take, saying that it was in large part
a response to legitimate criticism that the GON did not have
concrete measures specified in its reform plan. She asked
that we consider how we might provide political support to
the reformers. Technical assistance, she said, is nice, but
she needed more concrete support. End summary.

Okonjo-Iweala: Concrete reform proposals to be presented
--------------------------------------------- -----------

2. (SBU) Okonjo-Iweala will travel to Washington and New York
beginning October 25 for a series of meetings with
multilateral and private organizations. She said that she
initially had no plans to meet with USG officials. "We have
moved forward," she said, "since Dubai." She showed CDA a
recently completed matrix of planned reform measures, which
she said she may show U/S Larson and others in the U.S. She
said the best way to convince a skeptical world of the GON's
determination to achieve government transparency is to show
them the plan and then produce the results.

Okonjo-Iweala: Concrete U.S. political support needed
--------------------------------------------- --------

3. (SBU) Okonjo-Iweala is still prickly about what she
considered U.S. hesitation about her reform plans, which she
said she sensed in Dubai in September. She also remains
miffed that her planned meeting in Dubai with Treasury
Secretary Snow fell through.


4. (SBU) While acknowledging that the foreign skepticism is
born of experience with Nigeria, she said that the U.S. would
be of great assistance if it would provide some concrete
political support. The technical assistance the U.S. and
others can provide is useful, she said, but what she really
needs is for the U.S. and others to promise certain concrete
responses in return for concrete Nigerian reform steps.

5. (SBU) Okonjo-Iweala repeated her usual complaint that the
USG had two years ago raised hopes that a debt swap could be
arranged, then backed away. (Comment: She understands the
difficulties in the debt swap, and we suspect her complaint
is, at least in part, simply a way of convincing us to more
seriously entertain her pleas for other forms of assistance.
End comment.)

Okonjo-Iweala: EITI part of a broader plan

6. (SBU) Okonjo-Iweala said that EITI is only one step, of
many, toward full GON transparency. She stressed that the
GON was not signing up to a British plan any more than it was
signing up to a U.S. plan. Rather, the GON had its own plan,
which includes ambitious goals and a broad range of specific
and general steps to get there. The Ministry of Finance, she
said, is in control of the reform agenda now, and she has the
full support of President Obasanjo.

7. (SBU) Obasanjo, she said, is fully committed to the reform
agenda. As an example of Obasanjo's commitment, she pointed
to the recent debate over deregulation of the downstream
sector of the oil and gas industry. Obasanjo, she said, had
fully adopted her policy recommendations and had put the
policy into effect in ways he felt most politically
effective. She said that outsiders may be a bit confused by
all the political maneuvering, but downstream deregulation is
now an accomplished fact.

8. (SBU) She complained mildly that Nigeria had not been
recognized in the international press or by foreign
governments for having accomplished downstream deregulation.
Ambassador responded that there is some lingering confusion
about exactly what has happened. (Note: Okonjo-Iweala also
mentioned in a recent meeting with Econoff that a unit had
been formed within the Ministry of Finance to monitor all oil
and gas industry payments to the GON. End note.)

Comment: Political support is necessary

9. (SBU) There is a consensus view among IFI, diplomatic,
Nigerian and independent observers that Okonjo-Iweala is
knowlegeable and strongly committed to genuine reform. She
and the new economic team represent the best chance that
Nigeria has had for years for some real movement forward.
The question is whether the necessary political backing is
there for her to realize essential parts of her program. She
will continue to push for more than she probably expects to
get. That is her style. Looking past that, we see in her a
new and effective advocate of change, who ought to receive
whatever support we can give. This trip is a chance to make
clear that we have heard her. Providing rhetorical support
is good, but that will not go too far with the very direct
and down-to-earth Okonjo-Iweala. Better and more effective
will be whatever can be identified in the way of concrete USG
support for measurable GON progress in the area of
transparency and other reforms.

© Scoop Media

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