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Cablegate: Public Diplomacy Influence Analysis In

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 ABUJA 000680

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/PD; R; INR SSHAFFER
LAGOS FOR PAS
IBB FOR VOA ENGLISH, HAUSA SERVICES TO AFRICA
USEUCOM FOR PAO

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KPAO NI
SUBJECT: PUBLIC DIPLOMACY INFLUENCE ANALYSIS IN
NIGERIA

REF: STATE 033359

1. Introduction: Nigeria is Africa's most
populous nation with approximately 130 million
people. The country has access to a complex array
of media, both foreign and domestic, electronic
and print, as well as growing use of the Internet.
Nigerian public figures and opinion leaders
utilize and are influenced by all forms of media
and communication systems. That said, electronic
media are most pervasive in Nigerian society and
have the strongest reach to mass audiences. A BBC
survey of Nigerians estimated that 70 percent of
people get their news from radio, 20 percent from
television, and 10 percent from newspapers. Given
the high reliance on electronic forms of media,
the Nigerian Government has been reluctant to give
up its control of national and state-level radio
and television network stations. Private radio
and television stations, though limited to certain
geographic markets, continue to make inroads
against government media outlets. The government
has largely ceded the print media to the private
sector, which has a surprisingly high number of
daily and weekly newspapers competing for a
comparatively small readership. Internet access
is growing in Nigeria, although it is often used
to misinform, as well as inform public opinion.

2. Given the high degree of government control in
the media, press independence remains a work in
progress. Thus, Nigerians rely heavily on foreign
media outlets, especially BBC, VOA, DW (Germany's
Deutsche Welle international broadcast station)
and CNN for information about world news and
secondarily, Nigerian news. Aware of the
popularity of foreign media that derives mainly
from decades of military rule and lack of
confidence in Nigerian government media, Nigerian
officials worry about foreign media influence in
Nigeria, and have voiced their displeasure over
BBC, VOA and CNN reports, and try to limit use of
BBC and VOA broadcasts by domestic broadcasters.
Recently, the National Broadcasting Commission
forbade the direct rebroadcast of foreign news by
Nigerian affiliate stations. This measure does
not affect Nigerian audiences who receive BBC,
VOA, DW, CNN, or other foreign broadcasts via
satellite television or shortwave radio.

3. For foreign radio broadcasters, Nigeria
represents two distinct audiences divided largely
by language and geography. Roughly half of
Nigeria's population lives in northern Nigeria,
speaks Hausa as a first language, or uses Hausa as
a second language or lingua franca. This group is
predominantly Muslim while southern Nigeria is
largely English-speaking and Christian. While
many southern Yorubas are also Muslim, Islamic
scholars (and Nigerians Muslims themselves) make a
clear distinction between Yoruba Muslims and those
from the north. Thus, BBC and VOA have English as
well as Hausa language programs to cover northern
audiences while English programming is more
popular in the south. The current political
differences between the government and main
opposition party (based in northern Nigeria)
sharpen the divide, and northern media frequently
criticize the southwest-based media for the
latter's poor understanding of the north.

4. In Nigeria, however, it is important to
distinguish between how people receive news and
information, and how they ultimately arrive at
conclusions regarding that information. There are
also differences between how elites process
information and effective strategies to influence
elite opinion, and how average Nigerians get their
information and formulate opinions. U.S.
government-to-Nigerian government influence
strategies are only partially successful in
Nigeria, as Nigerian public officials are very
dependent on the opinions of other African
government officials and voices from the Non-
Aligned Movement. For contentious issues between
the USG and Nigeria, we should look to respected
intermediaries and messengers who are held in high
esteem by Nigerian officials - either
distinguished African-American leaders or other
African officials who enjoy access in Nigeria.
Regardless of what they hear from the media,
average Nigerians place great stock in the
opinions of local religious and traditional
leaders, and can be influenced (both positively
and negatively) by such people. In both the north
and south, traditional and religious leaders play
an increasingly important role as one moves away
from urban centers and as literacy levels decline.
End introduction.

The Media Environment in Nigeria
--------------------------------

5. The media environment in Nigeria is
remarkably complex, with sharp north-south
differences. In both the north and south,
however, radio remains the means by which most
Nigerians hear news. Nigerian radio broadcasting
was totally government controlled at the federal
and state levels until September 1994, when the
National Broadcasting Commission approved the
first private radio station. With digitized
studios, Western-style programming and a 24-hour-a-
day format, Ray Power 100 FM quickly became the
most popular radio station in Lagos and its
environs. Between mid-1996 and 1999, seven new
private radio stations were established. These
include Minaj Radio in the east, Benin City-based
Independent Radio and Television (ITV), Lagos-
based Rhythm 93.7, Cool FM, Star FM, and Ray Power
2 FM, which BBC sponsored. The federal government
approved licenses for 16 radio stations in 2002.
A new opposition party (ANPP) funded radio
station, Freedom Radio, began operations in Kano
in early 2004. As with television, independent
radio stations lack national coverage and are
mostly regionally based. In addition, the
Government of Nigeria sponsors the Voice of
Nigeria (VON), which broadcasts news and feature
stories about Nigeria within the country as well
as outside Nigeria to neighboring West African
nations and South Africa, where many Nigerians
live.

6. The government regulates the national
television airwaves through the National
Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a nominally
independent body. The federal government-owned
National Television Authority (NTA) network
operates stations in the state capitals and has
two "autonomous" stations in Lagos. In 1993, the
NBC approved licenses for fourteen independent
broadcasters. By 1996, however, only eight
broadcasters were in operation and the other six
licenses were revoked. The NTA is the only
national television broadcasting operation. Minaj
and AIT Raypower are popular independent
television stations, but do not have national
coverage. Galaxy TV is popular in Lagos and
Ibadan, while Channels TV in Lagos is also a
critically acclaimed independent station with a
largely southwestern following. Commercially,
NTA, AIT, Minaj, and Channels are available within
Africa via satellite, while AIT and Minaj
broadcasts may be received by U.S. and British
satellite subscribers.

7. The print media sector is the most competitive
and varied in Nigeria, with more than 20 national
English-language newspapers and a half dozen
weekly newsmagazines. State-owned newspapers
continue to face financial problems and
competition from the national dailies. Most have
either gone under or are produced sporadically;
those that remain are publicity vehicles for the
state governments. Despite the large number of
papers competing for newsstand space and
readership, circulation figures for newspapers are
low - less than 100,000 per paper and many less
than 25,000; with combined circulation figures at
roughly 750,000 - a low figure for a country whose
total population is estimated at 130 million.
Most Nigerians live on less than one dollar per
day and cannot afford to spend half of that on a
newspaper. In urban areas in particular, many
people share newspapers, read them at newsstands
without purchasing them, or discuss news stories
on public transport.

Regional Media Differences
--------------------------

8. In the north, radio is particularly important
in reaching large audiences, and the Hausa
language broadcasts are very popular. Both
Nigerian and foreign stations, BBC, VOA, DW
inclusive, have large listenerships. A recent VOA
survey indicates that the BBC leads in the
northern radio market with 53.9 percent; VOA has
44.7 percent of the market while DW has 36
percent. (Note: Many people listen to more than
one station. End Note) Because of the north's
relative low literacy rate and lack of
development, television, especially English
language broadcasts, does not yet reach large
audiences. But satellite broadcasts -- not only
BBC and CNN but Arabic-language stations from the
Middle East -- reach and influence the elite.
Cable television subscriptions, bringing
international stations to Nigerian viewers by
satellite, have become more important in affluent
communities, including in the north. In addition
to CNN, BBC, MTV and other commercial movie
channels, Nigeria's cable providers bundle free
Arabic channels -- courtesy of Saudi Arabia, Iran,
Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates -
- into the channel mix. ABG and MG Satellite
Communications are northern Nigeria's main cable
distributors for the Arabic channels.

9. While radio reaches the widest audiences in
the south, radio is viewed as an entertainment
media as much as a news source, with FM and AM
stations playing a wide variety of music forms.
Higher education levels and more urbanized
populations make television important for
influencing southern elites and middle-class
Nigerians, but television is largely non-existent
for average citizens in villages. Many private
television stations replay BBC or CNN news stories
of international events. Newspapers are also more
readily available in the southwest, since most are
printed there and northerners view most of the
southern papers as ethnically biased.

10. Two northern-focused Internet sites such as
www.almizan.faithweb.com and www.gamji.com have
elite followings, meaning their influence reaches
far beyond the few individuals who have direct
access to the Internet. These opinions are
constantly reprinted in newspapers or made
reference to in op-ed policy debates. The gamji
site has a cult following and has become very
influential with northern intellectuals, labor
leaders, northern Muslim/Christian youth
activists, NGO, and student groups. Issues
discussed are far-ranging, but substantially anti-
U.S., including events in the Middle East,
September 11, and the war against terror. The
south has no similar geographic/ethnically focused
websites; users log on to allAfrica.com or the CNN
and BBC websites for international online news.

11. Like the south, northern newspapers are not
the primary source of news for average Nigerians,
but they do have some sway among intellectuals and
political opinion leaders. Two more prominent
papers are Hausa publications, Gaskiya and Al-
Mizan. Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo ("Truth is Better Than
Money") is owned by a consortium of northern state
governments, this sister newspaper to The New
Nigerian is the oldest Hausa language newspaper in
northern Nigeria. For 64 years Gaskiya has
reflected a pro-north, anti-West focus.
Circulation is estimated at 50,000. Al-Mizan is a
radical Islamic Hausa weekly paper that strongly
communicates anti-American views and advocates an
Islamic State. Sold for less than the other
papers, it is published in Zaria on Friday, and it
is characteristically sold to Friday Mosque
congregations. Total print run is 12,000, but
estimated readership is over 60,000. The
newspaper is also available on the Internet
through www.faithweb.com. Al-Mizan is influential
with radical Muslim youths. Its founder and
publisher is an Ahmadu Bello University trained
economist and student of the Iranian Revolution,
Sheikh El-Zak-Zaky. Two English dailies, the New
Nigerian and the Daily Trust, are also published
in the north. The New Nigerian is managed by
northern state governments, and adheres to a pro-
government editorial line, while the independent
Trust follows a strong anti-American and anti-West
policy. Circulation for both papers is estimated
to be similar to that of the Hausa papers.

12. Similar to the north, many of the southern
papers and broadcasting stations are owned by
politicians and/or Nigerian businessmen interested
in establishing a platform by which to express
their views. Many operate in the red, and are
supported by the owners' other business concerns.
Some southern papers have established partnerships
and use material from abroad; the Financial Times
contributes about one-third of Business Day's
material; The Sun - a tabloid paper featuring
gossip, sports, and some news stories, mirrors the
Sun of London. Local language and ethnically
based papers are important in the south. The
Champion is published in Lagos and is a barometer
of Igbo opinion. The Yoruba language Alaroye is
seen as the leading medium that reaches villages
and the urban poor in the southwest. Alaroye is
also loosely affiliated with a Yoruba radio
station to increase its impact. Both the paper
and radio station appeal to English-speaking
elites in the southwest, and the viewpoints run
from neutral to pro-American.

13. Aside from traditional media, a broad
category of other information sources also
includes the influential teachings in the mosques,
churches, Sunday schools and Islamic schools.
Some of the opinions in circulation come from
visiting scholars and clerics, and are a
particular source of influence in an increasingly
illiterate northern Nigeria. There is a sector of
sponsored pro-Islamic information sources with
grassroots influence that is primarily religious
and anti-U.S. in character. Some of them,
especially the pro-Islamic sponsored literature,
pamphlets and hand bills exploit the Hausa
language to build a large readership. Internet
chat groups are also influential with the elite
and political class. In terms of direct third-
country influence, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are
of note. Iran's efforts are formally aimed at
spreading the Shia form of Islam in local Koranic
schools and Muslim populations. Publications are
part of an effort that includes placing teachers
in Koranic schools and study groups in Iran. The
targets for Saudi Arabia's effort are Islamic
clerics, Islamic scholars and the academic
community. Like the Iranian sponsorships, the
Saudi effort includes scholarships for study at
King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia.

14. Christian organizations in the south are a
large force for mobilizing crowds but are not
generally viewed as political actors; parishes
actively discourage political messages. A major
source of southern information (but not
necessarily influence) on the U.S. comes from
relatives living in the States. With the majority
of the students and immigrants to the U.S. coming
from the south, southerners are well connected to
the U.S.

Who Matters and the MPP
-----------------------

15. The political class is influential, but the
Nigerian President makes the critical decisions.
The top political party leaders, religious
leaders, labor leaders, traditional rulers, youth
organizations, and academics have varying levels
of influence in the government's decision-making.
The military, although under civilian control,
still retains significant influence, and Muslim
clerics are the most influential in northern
Nigeria. Journalists are important in informing
the public and mobilizing public opinion, but have
little direct influence as individuals.

-- Global Health: Opinion leaders include
government health workers, NGOs, and other donors,
and normal USG influence channels tend to be
effective. Nigeria recently witnessed however,
the strength of northern religious and political
leaders in setting back the polio vaccination
campaign through the spread of misinformation in a
number of northern states. Anti-U.S. Nigerian
media supported this effort. Our ability to
directly influence such people is extremely
limited. The polio issue underscored that a
largely illiterate population is more influenced
by local leadership than by mass media. While the
mission suggested respected health officials from
other Islamic countries as possible interlocutors,
there remains concern over the utility/political
neutrality of such people. On HIV/AIDS, there
exists cooperation and willingness to work with
the USG at a number of government levels and
within all geographic zones. Early engagement of
traditional, political, and other key decision
makers will be critical to maintain positive
cooperation on HIV/AIDS and will ensure USG
targets under President Bush's initiative will be
reached.

-- Anti-Terrorism: Key personnel in this arena
are the Nigerian security services, including
military, police and intelligence officials.
Nigerian political culture does not and is
unlikely to support international terrorism within
Nigeria. Even northern Muslim politicians, many
of whom have a military background, would not see
it in their interest to support a fundamentalist
Islamic state, despite paying lip service to
Sharia implementation in the north. For them,
identification with Islam is a political means to
gaining power, money, and the patronage that comes
from political power. All three groups remain
outside the influence of the independent media to
a large degree. The military are keen to be
perceived as superior among African militaries and
have a tradition of international
cooperation/interaction with other militaries.
The Nigerian police, who traditionally have worked
to maintain the political status quo rather than
protect Nigerian citizens, are also interested in
cultivating a more professional image and
increasingly looking outward for support. The
intelligence services see cooperation with the
U.S. far outweighing non-cooperation on issues
relating to terrorism. All groups are amenable
to official channels of USG influence in this
area.

-- Democratic Systems and Practices: Nigerian
politicians all subscribe to democracy in theory
but in practice elections at both the national and
local levels have been deemed by observers as less
than fair and free. The separation of powers is
questionable; an independent press remains in its
infancy. The USG must work with members of the
political class and civil society to implement
democratic reforms, with the former group most
resistant to altering the status quo. Effective
interlocutors include African-American
politicians, other African leaders and respected
personalities on the Continent, and members of the
Commonwealth. President Obasanjo is favorably
disposed to South African President Mbeki and
Ghanaian President John Kufour; he also pays heed
to British Prime Minister Blair, U.S. President
Bush, and the UN Secretary General. As much as
Nigerian political leaders appeal to the Nigerian
American members of the diaspora to assist
Nigeria, the latter are viewed as biased and too
critical in most matters of Nigerian domestic
politics.

-- Economic Growth and Development: Nigerian
government officials and members of the business
community are key to this MPP goal. President
Obasanjo has put in place a respected economic
team, Nigeria has great economic potential, and
the government constantly appeals for foreign
investment. Overcoming corruption, insecurity,
and establishing effective rule of law are keys to
fulfilling this MPP goal. The most effective
interlocutors will be outside Nigeria, as the GON
maintains a cozy relationship with corporate
Nigeria that will be difficult to break. Other
African business leaders, international
banking/finance groups, and Nigeria's neighbors
(who could benefit from a economically stable
Nigeria) should help in this regard. The Nigerian
media have been helpful in highlighting corruption
and inadequacies in the GON's approach to fighting
corruption. Unions and labor, with their ability
to transcend regional, sectarian and ethnic
cleavages, are an important factor in the economic
sphere, as are civil society/youth groups in the
oil-rich Delta region. The latter area is rife
for conflict based on ethnic, political and
economic rivalries. Conflict resolution
strategies and interlocutors skilled in mediating
ethnic dispute settlements would be helpful for
such problems.

-- Food Security and Agricultural Development:
The GON and farmers are the key groups and normal
USG influence works with in both the government
and private sectors. This is an area of GON
interest, and one in which the GON cooperates with
the USG and where we can exercise some level of
effective influence.

-- Law Enforcement and Judicial Systems: The
Nigerian law enforcement community had little to
no role under the former military regimes. As a
profession, it does not have the same status in
Nigeria as in other societies, and police are
viewed by the public as predators rather than
protectors. They will require continued attention
from international police assistance programs and
professional development programs, as well as GON
political commitment to weed out corrupt police
officials. Within Nigeria, NGO human rights/legal
watchdog groups and the media can provide
oversight of police officers and to ensure that
inadequacies are effectively handled.

-- Resolution of Regional Conflicts: Nigeria
enjoys its reputation as an African leader and the
government will continue to support regional
peacekeeping efforts within Africa as long as
international support is there to pay for such
exercises. The Nigerian public also sees Nigeria
as having a role within Africa in this regard.
Other African states, ECOWAS, the UN, the
Commonwealth, as well as the Nigeria Conflict
Advisory Committee (USAID, World Bank, DFID, and
UNDP) and the USG are effective centers of
influence.

-- Public Diplomacy and Influencing Nigerian
Public Opinion: Both Nigeria's independent press
and government media are willing to work with the
USG and provide us with access on many issues;
traditionally anti-U.S./anti-West media are more
reticent. For the latter group, American Muslims
are effective speakers, and moderate Islamic
voices necessary to counter extremists' views and
the anti-USG, anti-West conspiracy theories common
in the north. With the growth of the Internet
among journalists and easier access to wire
services, traditional USG products such as
Washington File stories are difficult to place as
the same information can be easily obtained from a
non-partisan news source. Being able to provide
finished media products of Mission events (tapes
for television and radio stations, particularly in
Hausa for northern radio) as well as radio/TV
programming of pro-U.S./West interest to Muslim
audiences that can be rebroadcast would be helpful
in furthering USG bilateral efforts in Nigeria.

ROBERTS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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