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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.

101507Z Jun 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001207

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY

LONDON FOR GURNEY, PARIS FOR NEARY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: AH, THE "O'S!" - A VISIT TO OGUN, OYO, OSUN AND
ONDO STATES (PART 4 OF 4)

REF: A) LAGOS 1206 B) LAGOS 1205 C) LAGOS 1203 D)

LAGOS 637


1. Summary. This is the last in a four-part report of
ConOffs visit to four of the five formerly 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, 2, and 3 at reftels C, 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. Chief Reuben Fasoranti, acting
head of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization,
Afenifere, hinted that his group would be joining with other
ethnic PDP opposition political groups to work to take back
control of the south -- and perhaps more -- from the PDP in
the 2007 elections. End summary.

2. (SBU) Ondo - "The Sunshine State"

The boundaries of Ondo Parish were established in 1915 and
remained essentially the same when the region became a State
in February, 1976. The population is predominantly Yoruba
and Muslim.

3. (SBU) It was raining hard when PolOffs entered the Ondo
capital, Akure. Though roads are good in Ondo, it is
considered the most neglected and impoverished of the four
southwestern States we visited. Governor Olusegun Agagu's
administration has announced that it is addressing all the
problems of the State -- supply of reliable electricity and
potable water, road repairs and maintenance, falling
educational standards, revitalization of the agricultural
sector, job creation and poverty eradication. In addition to
buying closed or failing manufacturing plants with State
funds and promising to refurbish them to create jobs, the
Agagu administration is counting on the Free Trade Export
Zone project with Ogun State to create "millions" of jobs.
Criticized for being slow to tackle Ondo's many problems,
Agagu spent his first six months in office developing the
"Road Map to Progress" for Ondo in conjunction with
committees of concerned citizens. As a result, he said,
after only six months of effort, it is too soon to judge
whether he and his administration are doing a good job. "We
have a four-year mandate," he declared. "We are doing well,
but ask us how we have done in December 2006!"

Afenifere plotting new courses

4. (SBU) PolOffs met with Chief Reuben F. Fasoranti at his
home in Akure. Fasoranti is the acting head of Afenifere
while Pa Abraham Adesanya recuperates from a devastating
stroke. (Reftel D) Fasoranti was not very forthcoming. He
repeated the mantra that "AD and Afenifere are strong and 'on
the ground' nationwide. The people are used to us and they
know what we have done and can still do for them." He
claimed that Afenifere was responsible for the institution of
free education in Nigeria, and said that, as a result, many
current leaders and professionals are beneficiaries of this
and have influenced the political history of the southwest.
This shared background engenders loyalty that is not lost in
one election cycle. According to Fasoranti, the new PDP
politicians are just following up on programs proposed and
pursued by Afenifere and AD, such as building and maintaining
roads, schools and hospitals, and encouraging agricultural
development with subsidies, grants, and soft loans. He says
that the middle class, especially, benefited from
AD/Afenifere housing subsidies and university scholarships,
and that the PDP won in the face of all this AD support, only
through fraud, cheating, and rigging. Fasoranti explained
that neither AD nor Afenifere is challenging any of the
elections in Ondo because "the rigging was so perfect that we
cannot put forward an actionable casus belli to make our
case."

5. (SBU) Fasoranti told us there is too much political,
ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria, and that a
Sovereign National Conference (SNC) is needed so that all
parties can be heard and receive equitable treatment under
national law. "We are getting ourselves together. We do not
rule out alliances with like-minded groups." (Comment. a
few days after our visit, Afenifere joined with Ohaneze, the
pan-Igbo socio-political groups from the southeast, to demand
that the federal government convene an SNC immediately. Vice
President Atiku Abubaker, seeming to be considering the
demand, promised an SNC would be convened before the
elections in 2007. President Olusegun Obasanjo has firmly
and repeatedly rejected the need for an SNC, and, even as a
lame duck, Obasanjo continues to consolidate and wield
considerable control. An SNC, even at the last minute before
the next elections seems unlikely. End comment.)
6. (SBU) Despite all the claims of historic loyalty from the
southwest, Fasoranti said AD and Afenifere are restructuring
so that "people will like us again." Asked about the schism
in the AD between the "Abuja faction" (led by Senator
Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa) and the "Lagos faction" (led by former
Governor Bisi Akande), Fasoranti put off answering directly
saying that the parties had until October 16 to come up with
a solution that would satisfy elections officials. (Comment.
Several AD and Afenifere officials have publicly stated that
the most likely and acceptable outcome is that both leaders
will step aside in favor of a third person acceptable to a
majority of the members. End comment.) He went on to say
that it is too early to say what AD and Afenifere are
planning for the 2007 elections, or who might emerge as the
new (and possibly younger) leaders of the groups. Fasoranti
ended our short meeting, saying, "sometimes it is not
effective nor practical to do what the people want, but we
will keep trying to find and do what is best for the people."

7. (SBU) Conclusion. As several of our interlocutors told
us, it is too early to predict a winner or even a
front-runner in the southwest in 2007 elections. After a big
start at launching many promising programs, new PDP
governments may run out of steam or money, as their
predecessors are said to have done. All we can say is that
Nigerians are used to being disappointed in their national
institutions and systems, as shown by their widespread apathy
in the last elections. By 2007 then may be fed up with
unfulfilled promises and tired of waiting for the "dividends
of democracy" and become even more apathetic, or they may be
re-energized by developments and progress at the State level
to push for broader reform and action.
HINSON-JONES

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