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Cablegate: Obasanjo Should Resign Claims Civil Society Group,

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

UNCLAS LAGOS 002363

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED


PASS GURNEY, LONDON AND NEARY, PARIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EPET PGOV PHUM KDEM SOCI NI XY
SUBJECT: OBASANJO SHOULD RESIGN CLAIMS CIVIL SOCIETY GROUP,
UNITED ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY

REF: (A) LAGOS 2200 (B) LAGOS 2322 (C) LAGOS 2330


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Civil society organizations continue to
agitate on the national scene in an attempt to realize public
policy and institutional reform, but have yet to produce real
movement in that direction. Calls for protest against the
upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
appear to be hollow, and possible disruptions will likely be
minimal -- if noticeable at all. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) United Action for Democracy (UAD) has called for
President Obasanjo to resign from office, claiming that
Obasanjo "has not listened to public opinion" and runs a
government akin to a "military dictatorship." UAD has also
"advised" heads of state not to attend CHOGM scheduled for
December 3-6 in Abuja, but claims that they will not
"blackmail" the high profile event. The group argues that
Nigeria is not fit to host the event under the present
administration, which it claims came into office through
electoral fraud. It also renewed its criticism of Obasanjo's
recent policies and slow or nonexistent implementation of
democratization (Refs A, B, and C). UAD claims that
forty-six other organizations are collaborating with it in
this effort. However, it is important to note that the
National Labour Congress (NLC), UAD's partner in the Labour
and Civil Society Organization (LASCO) in protesting the
GON's recent fuel deregulation, is visibly absent, as is
LASCO itself.


3. (SBU) POLOFF spoke with Bamidele Aturu, president of UAD,
on 13 November. Aturu, who is also the co-chairman of LASCO,
told us UAD will hold a symposium in Lagos on November 18 for
member NGOs to discuss the state of Nigeria's democracy.
Time and venue had not yet been determined, but Aturu said he
is expecting one hundred persons to attend. Aturu also
announced that a rally is planned for December 3, the opening
day of CHOGM, in the Yaba district of Lagos. Other rallies
are promised nation-wide, including Abuja, but plans for
these other events are not yet firm. As with fuel
deregulation, the largest complaint of UAD and other civil
society organizations is that the GON regularly fails to
consult with them before it implements public policy that
affects their constituencies. They complain that Obasanjo's
style of government is little different than that of a
military dictatorship and they have begun to advocate
impeachment as a means to remove him from office.


4. (SBU) POLOFF's counterpart at the British Deputy High
Commission told her last week that HRM Queen Elizabeth II
will arrive in Abuja on December 3 to officially open CHOGM
and will stay in Abuja for the entire conference, departing
on December 6. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will
accompany the Queen to Abuja, but has also scheduled a visit
to Lagos. Prime Minister Tony Blair is scheduled to arrive
December 4 and will depart on December 8. When informed by
POLOFF of the possibility of UAD rallies in Abuja during the
Queen's stay, the BDHC did not express concern.


5. (SBU) COMMENT: Bamidele Aturu, who appeared to have left
the human rights struggle in Nigeria after the fall of the
Abacha regime, has become visible again in the past two
months, making many statements urging civil disobedience. To
date, there has been no public response in the form of
demonstrations or protests on the issues that he raises. His
criticisms of the government may have intellectual merit, but
little application or efficacy in the Nigerian body politic.
In a society that even Obasanjo himself describes as always
pursuing "position, power, possession, plaudit, popularity,
and pleasure", it is possible that Aturu is positioning
himself on the national stage for self-aggrandizement, as
well as forwarding his philosophies. Regardless of Aturu's
personal motives, the increased activity of civil society
organizations is a positive sign of the continuing
democratization of Nigeria.


6. (SBU) The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) comprising
civil society have in general been seeking to define
themselves since the fall of the Abacha regime. With the
menace of military dictatorship no longer looming on the
horizon, their identities are yet to be solidified. Although
these NGOs were able to effectively organize against
Obasanjo's fuel deregulation policy, under the leadership of
LASCO they were unable to follow through and effect change.
While these NGO leaders philosophize and advocate privately
and within their own circles, their calls have yet t
resonate loudly among the Nigerian public. END COMMENT.
HINSON-JONES

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