Cablegate: Ah, the "O's" - a Visit to Ogun, Oyo, Osun, And
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
101420Z Jun 04
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001205
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
LONDON FOR GURNEY, PARIS FOR NEARY
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM PINR NI
SUBJECT: AH, THE "O'S" - A VISIT TO OGUN, OYO, OSUN, AND
ONDO STATES (PART 2 0F 4)
REF: LAGOS 1203
1. Summary. This is the second of a four-part report on
PolOffs' visit to four of the five former Alliance for
Democracy Party (AD) States, that were taken by the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2003 and 2004 federal, state
and local elections. (Part 1 at reftel) After one year under
new administrations, all four States seem to be making
progress in delivering critical government services such as
free education, poverty alleviation and infrastructure
2. (SBU) Oyo State, with the energetic leadership of
businessman-turned-Governor Rashid Ladoja, is moving out of
the doldrums and inactivity of the previous administration.
Former Oyo Governor, Lam Adesina, while voicing the oft-heard
list of complaints and gripes about the PDP victories in the
2003 and 2004 elections, still blustered that the AD is
poised to make a strong comeback in Oyo in the 2007 election
cycle. We doubt it. End summary.
3. Oyo - "The Pacesetter State"
(SBU) Oyo State has existed in some form or other since
pre-colonial days and was ruled by the traditional Alaafin of
Oyo. At independence in 1960, the State became part of the
now defunct Western State, and in 1991 acquired its current
borders. Predominantly ethnic Yoruba, Oyo is also home to a
minority mix of ethnic tribes from all parts of Nigeria. Oyo
is the site of the prestigious and well-attended capital city
University of Ibadan and the UN-sponsored International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) program. Since our
visit last year, the State has made progress maintaining and
repairing infrastructure such as roads and electricity
supply. Local officials readily admitted that the State is
now more than 60% Muslim, and, as in the other three States
we visited, our observations indicated a higher percentage.
The Grand Mosque in Ibadan, with its huge gold dome,
dominates the city skyline and commands visitors' attention
more than any church steeple in the city.
4. (SBU) Governor Rashid Adewolu Ladoja, a chemical engineer
and successful millionaire businessman, impressed us as
intelligent, candid and astute in his new career as a
politician. He graciously dismissed the elaborate press
conference he had arranged for our meeting and agreed to a
private session with only a few of his cabinet in attendance.
Ladoja started off the meeting by declaring that the US was
"very selfish" in offering its assistance to Nigeria. He
said that Nigeria, being a new democracy, had many domestic
issues of concern that needed US assistance, but the US was
interested in furthering only its own goals in the region.
He mentioned specifically, debt relief for Nigeria and US
membership in both the Paris and London Clubs. (Comment.
PolOff responded to the Governor by pointing out that US
Mission goals in Nigeria, such as promoting political and
economic stability, are naturally in our self-interest. If
our efforts and assistance produced a safe and secure Nigeria
where US entities can operate, it was a "win-win" outcome for
both nations. End comment.)
5. (SBU) Ladoja turned quickly to local issues, saying that
the PDP had won in Oyo State because the people of Oyo had
been "hoodwinked" by the AD Party. The people of Oyo have
been historically outside the mainstream of Nigerian
politics, according to the Governor. They were convinced by
the AD party that they did not need a federal government, and
that their own AD/Afenifere/Yoruba politicians could do the
right thing. "The PDP candidates were just better than the
AD candidates. AD and Afenifere relaxed and that is why they
lost." The Governor said he had nothing for the Christians
in Oyo, and nothing for the Muslims either, but everything
for the citizens of Oyo. "We are defining what government
should be," he said. His administration is concentrating on
diversification through agricultural development. Oyo has
the largest area of arable land in Nigeria and is heavily
into the federal government's subsidized fertilizer program.
The State has launched the Oyo State Agricultural
Re-awakening Programme (AIRPOS) which provides seeds,
tractors and insecticides to farmers willing to plant corn,
melons and cassava. There are plans to revitalize Oyo's
abandoned cocoa plantations, and the State government has
begun to clear State-owned lands and offer one free acre to
any cocoa farmer who already owns an acre under cultivation.
Any university graduates specializing in agriculture will
receive two acres free upon graduation.
Living in the present; preparing for the future
6. (SBU) As for the future, the Governor said that Oyo was
not counting on windfall income from recent increases in the
revenue from oil production. "We will not see anything from
that for several months," he said. Oyo is concentrating,
instead, on improving delivery of government services now.
Ladoja said the State is going ahead with improvements to all
roads, whether they are federal, state or local, without
asking the federal government for up-front funding or
reimbursement. To accomplish this, the State has bought and
operates its own asphalt plant. Oyo has increased the
delivery of potable water to urban and rural areas by 40%.
All government printing is done in-house to save money.
While education is still free at the primary level, the
Ladoja administration is requiring parents to pay for all
end-of-term exams. As for the 2007 elections, Ladoja says,
"I have the job of running this State today. We are not yet
campaigning -- maybe in October of 2006 we will begin. We
are working hard now to show the people that we can do the
job. We want your help, but we are realistic. We know you
The sore loser rationalizes
7. (SBU) Late in the afternoon, we met with the AD former
governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina. Adesina was upbeat about
the future of AD in Oyo and voiced the mantra we heard from
other AD members. He said AD was "on the ground in Oyo and
in firm control." Adesina also voiced some of the same
complaints of other losers in the 2003 and 2004 elections.
He charged that the people did not really get a chance to
choose the government they wanted. "The PDP just wrote the
results they wanted. We know we won in many of the local
government areas, but PDP interfered with the elections
process and threw out the results." Adesina wants the whole
election mechanism disbanded and reformed. He wants the
current registration lists, the system for selecting election
officials, and the validation of results abandoned and
replaced by systems not controlled by the majority PDP.
Adesina said that AD still has enough stalwart members in Oyo
to field candidates and win in 2007.
8. (SBU) The recent schism in the AD has been healed
according to Adesina, and the party still has much support,
not only in Oyo and the southwest, but nationwide. He says
"nobody likes Governor Ladoja" and the Governor has to travel
everywhere with bodyguards because he is afraid of attacks.
The AD wants to create "true" federalism in Nigeria and this
can only be achieved by calling a Sovereign National
Conference to rewrite the Constitution that was imposed on
the people by former military regimes.