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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.

101436Z Jun 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001206

SIPDIS

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 3 0F 4)

REF: A) LAGOS 1205 B) LAGOS 1203

1. Summary. This is the third of a four-part report on
ConOffs 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. (Parts 1 and 2 at reftels B and A)
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 improvements. Osun State, under the measured
and confident control of retired general, Governor Olunsoye
Oyinlola, is moving ahead on infrastructure projects after
six months of planning by State officials and community
representatives. The fact that Oyinlola was an official in
the military regime of the late Sani Abacha still causes his
actions to be closely scrutinized for abuses and compared to
the Abacha era. End summary.

Osun - "The State of Young Faces"

2. (SBU) Osun was carved out of the old Oyo State in 1991;
thus, like Oyo, its population is almost totally ethnic
Yoruba. Osun officials readily admit that the State is about
50-50 Muslim to Christian. However, casual observation of
residents on the street and the ratio of well-maintained
mosques to, obviously, older and aging churches leads to a
supposition that Osun may have a much higher percentage of
Muslims.

3. (SBU) The major highway into Osun's capital, Osogbo, is
in excellent condition. Amazingly, along the entire length
that we traveled, the two-lane highway is being repaired and
widened to a four-lane highway. Heavy equipment and road
crews were at work clearing the road shoulders and laying
asphalt. Except for the inevitable traffic jam, this one
caused by an accident involving two sixteen-wheeler tank
trucks, and the slowdowns for the ubiquitous police check
points, our trip to Osogbo was fast and smooth.

The Governor is also a Prince

4. (SBU) Governor Prince Olunsoye Oyinlola made time for us,
even though we arrived a half an hour late due to the tanker
accident. The waiting room outside the Governor's office was
packed with men carrying briefcases and folders of papers,
obviously waiting for meetings with the Governor. The
Governor had a tight schedule, but we were immediately
ushered into his vast and ornately decorated office on the
top floor of the State executive office building. Oyinlola
had arranged a formal press meeting with prepared welcoming
statements, photographers and video cameras, assembly members
(including the lone AD Assemblyman) and an exchange of gifts.
PolOff had a chance to speak one-on-one with the Governor
after the welcoming ceremony. Oyinlola appeared open and
friendly, and he answered all our questions as fully as time
permitted. He said his administration is concentrating on
poverty eradication and job creation in Osun. As in other
States in the federation, government -- local, State, or
federal -- is the largest employer. Oyinlola told us that
79% of the State budget goes to the 5% of the population who
are government employees. There are no US businesses,
franchises or partnerships operating in Osun, and the
Oyinlola administration wants US help in changing that
situation. The Governor said that Osun is perfect for
foreign and local investment; i. e. it has no crime or other
security issues, a good infrastructure, and an educated
population.

Making progress, but the past still haunts him

5. (SBU) Osun is another of the non-oil-producing States
that has turned to revitalization of its agricultural
industry as a way to cut dependence on oil revenue
allocations. The State has purchased 330 new tractors that
will be sold or leased to farmers. Oyinlola told us his
administration has secured government funding to improve the
supply of potable water in the State, and has funded
improvements in the delivery of health care services from its
current federal allocation. Osun has hired 1,500 additional
health care workers, purchased 31 new ambulances and is in
the process of constructing its own pharmaceuticals plant.
This administration has re-hired 2,500 teachers laid off by
the previous administration, and raised wages for 18,000
teachers under a new program called the "Oyinlola Corps."
The Governor said that all State payments to civil service
and pensioners are now current.

6. (SBU) Oyinlola is a retired general and was the former
military administrator of Lagos State during the rule of the
late military dictator, Sani Abacha. He has had to try to
live down his history, but his critics in Osun point to
wasteful spending such as purchasing motorcycles and cars for
political supporters, and taking the entire House of Assembly
with him to Brazil, the UK and the US to purchase the
tractors for the agricultural development project. Oyinlola
counters that the equipment manufacturers paid for the
travel.
HINSON-JONES

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