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Cablegate: Pdp: Convention in December, Discord in the Ranks

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

311118Z Oct 03

UNCLAS ABUJA 001891

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM NI
SUBJECT: PDP: CONVENTION IN DECEMBER, DISCORD IN THE RANKS


CLASSIFIED BY COUNSELOR JAMES MAXSTADT FOR REASONS 1.5 (B)
AND (D).


1. (SBU) The ruling PDP held a special national caucus
October 22, to be attended by the President, Vice President,
members of the PDP National Executive Committee, PDP
Governors, and the National Assembly PDP leadership. The
caucus met and agreed to hold the party's national convention
December 11-13, and to discuss there preparations for the
2007 elections, possible changes to the party's constitution,
and geographical balance for major party positions. The
party's national economic policy, i.e. President Obasanjo's
GON economic policy, supposedly will also be on the
convention agenda for discussion.


2. (SBU) The caucus did not showcase an organized and
committed PDP. The opening session started two hours late
while members waited for Obasanjo's arrival. PDP National
Chairman Audu Ogbeh finally opened the session, but 20
minutes into his remarks the President arrived and took over
the meeting. Of the PDP's 28 state governors, only five were
present at the beginning of the day and three more arrived
shortly before the session adjourned. Speaker of the House
Bello Masari only showed up at eight PM, nearly six hours
after the start of the opening session and only minutes
before the caucus adjourned. Vice President Atiku did not
appear at all, and several other senior politicians and
founding members of the PDP chose not to attend.


3. (U) The caucus was short on comraderie too. PDP Chairman
Ogbeh announced that elected PDP representatives and senators
would no longer be allowed to criticize President Obasanjo or
his policies in public. These "anti-party" activities would
result in severe disciplinary action against the miscreants.
Ogbeh claimed that no Democrat in the U.S. Congress had voted
for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, and
that should be the standard within the PDP. Ogbeh also
announced that PDP members would soon be required to pay dues
to the party. Numerous National Assembly members have since
responded by attacking Ogbeh in the press, probably not the
intended result of Ogbeh's stricture against criticizing the
party leader.


4. (SBU) The PDP is in turmoil in some places outside Abuja
too. In Niger State, the PDP chapter has begun an attempt to
recall Senator Idris Ibrahim Kuta for "nonperformance" and
"distancing himself from his constituency." The PDP National
Working Committee suspended the Nasarawa State PDP Chairman
on October 21 for various alleged anti-party activities,
although he was reinstated one week later. And the Supreme
Court is now hearing cases on whether previous terms in
office under military rule prior to 1999 count toward the
1999 Constitution's two-term limit for governors, which
affects Taraba State PDP Governor Jolly Nyame.


5. (C) COMMENT: Ogbeh's "gag rule" did little to gain
solidarity within the PDP, but rather irritated the typical
self-interested, arrogant politician that Nigeria tends to
produce. The President dominates the party as he does the
government, and attempts to dominate the PDP National
Assembly caucus and governors. With that dominance, he often
wins these days as the "last man standing" when institutions
fracture under his opponents in the labor unions, the
opposition parties, and even his own PDP -- as respectively
on gasoline deregulation (to date), weeding out the
independents from the Independent National Electoral
Commission, and imposing an unelected Senate President and
House Speaker on the National Assembly. The "last man
standing" tactic may gain Obasanjo victory on each issue in a
Nigerian political environment of shaky institutions he could
not otherwise meld into winning coalitions, but at the cost
of further weakening Nigeria's institutions and further
alienating Nigerians.
MEECE

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