Cablegate: Visit to Nasarawa State
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
260736Z Dec 03
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 002215
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM NI
SUBJECT: VISIT TO NASARAWA STATE
REF: ABUJA 2080
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR INTRANET.
1. (U) Summary: Nasarawa has only been a state for seven
years, and the governor is working to create a state identity
and legacy for himself. Poloff traveled to the capital,
Lafia, to visit the PDP Governor, the Nasarawa ANPP chairman
and journalists; the meetings all implied that disputes over
the contested 2003 election are considered moot and everyone
is looking to the future. Nasarawa has few real power
brokers besides the governor, and he maintains a balance by
insuring that positions are spread among the geographical
regions and ethnic groups of the state. Governor Adamu is a
smooth politician who appears to be maneuvering for a future
national level position. End Summary.
Governor Abdullahi Adamu
2. (SBU) Governor Abdullahi Adamu is 57 years old and started
out in the civil service. After his civil engineering degree
proved useless under successive military regimes not
concerned with public amenities, Adamu turned to law. He
studied in Nigeria and after passing the bar also went into
politics. He was Plateau State chairman of the old Social
Democratic Party (SDP - at one time the ruling party at the
national level), and he was imprisoned briefly during
Buhari's military regime. Adamu was a drafter of both the
1977/78 and the 1994/95 constitutions. He is a Muslim and
was born in Keffi (then in Plateau State, now in the western
part of Nasarawa).
3. (SBU) Adamu is very polished, and a politician to the
core. He is reticent to discuss other individuals in power,
preferring to discuss general party politics. He is very
ambitious; the belief on the street is that he is maneuvering
for a national-level position. He thinks highly of himself
and his skills and is more than happy to discuss his
qualifications. Adamu's office is filled with personal
portraits, pictures and oversized greeting cards. He is well
groomed, expensively dressed, and eloquent; he speaks softly
and to the point.
First four and a half years
4. (U) Nasarawa State was created in 1997 by Abacha to reduce
the size and importance of Plateau State. The state
immediately became one of the poorest in the federation, as
it does not benefit from the quality of soil and climate that
the more northern Plateau State has for agriculture.
Infrastructure is very poor, and the capital, Lafia, is
little more than a small market town. Faced with numerous
problems throughout the state, Adamu began many ambitious
projects to repair roads, build public structures, provide
rural electricity and water, and improve education. Most of
these projects have faltered along the way and run out of
money. Governor Adamu's only real success is in the
education sector, in the creation of a handful of good
quality secondary schools and universities. Despite numerous
complaints that his administration never finished anything,
Adamu was reelected in April amidst allegations of rigging.
5. (U) Adamu believes the way forward lies in manufacturing.
He stated that Nasarawa cannot compete in agriculture and
therefore he has pretty much scrapped any state government
assistance to that sector. His goal in his second term is to
attract a few outside investors and try to build a number of
factories. He complained that Nasarawa is either last or
next to last in money received from the Federal Revenue
Allocation, and therefore is looking for ways to increase
state government revenue.
Akwanga and the Nomination Process
6. (U) The PDP Governor was reticent about discussing the
detention of Labor Minister Husseini Akwanga (reftel), whom
Adamu pushed for the national cabinet. Poloff asked about
how the governor groomed proteges and colleagues for state
and national office. Apparently, ethnic and regional
balances play roles not only at the national level, but also
within the state. Governor Adamu pointed out that while he
is from the western part of the state, his new Deputy
Governor and the Chief Judge are both from the central area,
and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly is from the
east. Adamu stated that he would choose three persons to
nominate from each of the three senatorial districts for
national positions, and then ask the President to select one.
Adamu appeared to be more concerned with leadership
qualities in local communities (i.e. amount of votes a person
can swing) in his selections than with party faithful.
7. (U) Governor Adamu's first deputy governor was offered a
position in the cabinet, and Adamu replaced him with a
university professor in the hopes of assisting in the
state-building process. As Adamu was already in position, he
did not have to concern himself with the votes his deputy
could bring. For the 2003 election, it was necessary to find
a running mate who could bring in votes from a different area
of the state, and therefore the governor dropped his
8. (U) Governor Adamu pointed out that 26 of 36 governors
will be ineligible to run in 2007, having served the maximum
two elected terms. While he believes that there will not be
a movement to remove term limits, he was concerned about that
numerous powerful men would soon be looking for something
else to do. Adamu believes the term limit issue is the
driving force behind early campaigning for 2007, as many
governors are competing for the Vice Presidential ticket.
Another problem with term limits is a constant need to
reinvent the wheel in Nigerian governance, Adamu claimed.
Democracy in Nigeria is too new, he thought, and it will take
a much longer time period for politicians to better
understand the process they've created and to deliver
promised reforms to the populace.
9. (U) Adamu echoed his PDP's party line on Nigeria's
national politics. He claimed that if Obasanjo had not been
reelected in 2003, the experiment in democracy would have
failed. Adamu said four years were too short a period in
this country to address the multitude of things that have to
be reformed. Without the continuity provided by Obasanjo,
the presidency would have devolved into a completely
ineffectual revolving door. In reality, according to Adamu,
the 2007 election will be the real test of democracy in
Nigeria and will demonstrate whether this country can truly
sustain a transition. In addition, Adamu believes that the
PDP has a responsibility that goes with their overwhelming
majority to make sweeping reforms in Nigeria (although he did
not get into specifics) and that the party will not deserve
the presidency in 2007 if it cannot fix the country now.
Meeting with the ANPP Chairman
10. (SBU) Nasarawa ANPP Chairman Umaru was a senator with the
SDP from 1992 to 1997 in Plateau State, during which time his
district was the current Nasarawa State. Then he served in
the new Nasarawa State Assembly until 1999. According to
Umaru, the ANPP in Nasarawa has already given up on the
current electoral tribunal process and are looking to 2007.
He stated that the major obstacle today is the apathy of the
populace; after what he termed the obvious rigging of the
April 12 National Assembly elections, people no longer cared
about subsequent elections. Umaru claimed that Governor
Adamu did not even campaign for the 2003 election, and was
even chased out of some villages. He also claimed that
Adamu's successes in education would continue to promulgate
the ruling party as costs for higher education in state have
become so prohibitive that only persons with access to
government coffers and contracts will be able to send their
children to these schools. He also mentioned problems
between the ANPP National Secretariat and the state chapters,
as the National Secretariat still has not yet passed 2003
election funds to the state chapters.
Meeting with Journalists
11. (SBU) Poloff met with National Union of Journalists State
Chairman Musa Abdullahi and the state reporter for Radio
Nigeria. While the two men have somewhat opposing views on
the ruling party, both agreed that Governor Adamu is okay.
They stated that the has many good ideas for projects to
improve infrastructure, but that all the projects seem to
stop midstream. The major complaint against the Governor is
that he has not seen any projects through to completion.
Both journalists were also certain of the Governor's higher
aspirations. On the issue of the Akwanga detention (reftel),
the journalists felt that the situation demonstrated
President Obasanjo's commitment to fighting corruption. Even
though both agreed that the arrests were probably timed to
impress Obasanjo's Commonwealth Heads of Government peers,
the main issue was that the GON had finally investigated
someone at the cabinet level.