Cablegate: Kaduna Governor: On Polio, Communal Violence, And
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
291232Z Jul 04
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001320
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON NI
SUBJECT: KADUNA GOVERNOR: ON POLIO, COMMUNAL VIOLENCE, AND
REF: A. ABUJA 1319
B. ABUJA 1289 AND PREVIOUS
1. (SBU) Summary. On July 15, the Ambassador traveled to the
northern city of Kaduna where he met Governor Ahmed Makarfi
and others (reftel A). Kaduna has been a battleground
between Muslims and Christians over the last few years.
However, while other Northern trouble spots (notably Plateau
and Kano) erupted recently, Kaduna remained peaceful, a feat
attributed to the leadership of Governor Makarfi. Three
major themes dominated the discussion: (1) the ongoing
controversy on polio (reftel B), (2) communal conflict, and
(3) the newly introduced community policing in the State.
Makarfi stated that his government had never stopped the
polio vaccination campaign but Kaduna's proximity to
neighboring Kano State led to erroneous reports that his
state participated in the suspension. Makarfi stated that
agitation around the selection of new traditional leaders and
the injustice in distributing Kaduna's resources contributed
to communal conflicts. Makarfi praised the USG for providing
training and logistical support to Kaduna's community
policing initiative, but expressed his fears that
bureaucratic bottlenecks might impede its successful
implementation. End Summary.
2. (U) On July 15, the Ambassador traveled to the northern
city of Kaduna, where he met a range of people, including
Governor Ahmed Makarfi. While Kaduna has been a battleground
between Muslims and Christians over the last few years, the
spate of recent eruptions of violence left Kaduna unscathed,
a feat attributed to the leadership of Governor Makarfi.
3. (SBU) Makarfi stated that his government had never
stopped the polio vaccination campaign but Kaduna's proximity
to neighboring Kano State led to erroneous reports that his
state participated in the suspension.
4. (SBU) Makarfi told the Ambassador when crises occurred,
it normally takes some years before life can return to
normal, and that Kaduna was no exception. He said that
despite some dislocations resulting from past ethno-religious
crises, Kaduna was gradually picking up, and more people were
coming back to the city. According to Makarfi, most crises
witnessed in the city had their roots outside the state.
5. (SBU) Continuing, Makarfi explained that communal crises
could also be fueled by local problems such as agitation for
more autonomy in appointing traditional leaders and the
unequal distribution of resources and services from the
government. According to him, past military regimes
distributed resources inequitably in some areas of the state.
Because of this, Makarfi said, he had granted more chiefdoms
to the southern parts of Kaduna. The South, mostly
Christians and non-Hausas, had for years been agitating to
get its own traditional institutions separate from the Muslim
Zazzau Emirate headquartered in Zaria, in the northern part
of the state.
6. (SBU) Makarfi assured the Ambassador that he was fair in
distributing and executing projects, sharing of political
positions and disbursing resources to all the religious and
ethnic groups in the State. The groups in the state "know my
position on issues," he said, claiming that he refused to be
"hijacked" by any of these groups. "They now understand what
I can do and what I cannot do for them," Makarfi stated.
"That explains why both Muslims and Christians criticize me.
As a leader, it is my duty to remain fair," he concluded.
7. (SBU) Makarfi commended the USG for supporting the
successful launch of a community policing initiative destined
to expand throughout Nigeria. He said that the initiative
was valuable and relevant to society, arguing that the policy
could easily improve the current negative image of the
Nigerian police. Makarfi enthusiastically recalled how
residents of a local community in the state recently sent a
delegation to the State Government expressing their happiness
with the work of the US-trained community policing personnel.
According to him, the villagers were so impressed with the
techniques employed by the officers in settling disputes and
stopping crimes that they thought such officers were not part
of the regular Nigerian police force. "The villagers thought
these officers were from another country, or perhaps they
came from the moon," Makarfi joked.
8. (SBU) However, Makarfi expressed concern that
bureaucratic bottlenecks and unnecessary adherence to the
chain of command within the Nigerian police could impede the
progressive implementation of community policing. He said
the current structure of the police concentrates too many
powers at the national headquarters with state Police
commissioners relying more on the Inspector General of Police
(IG) in Abuja than the governor of the state. According to
Makarfi, the IG micromanages commissioners down to the
smallest details. Makarfi mentioned that the Kaduna State
Police Commissioner recently confided in him that though
these officers involved in the community policing work under
his command, he had to rely on Abuja for their welfare,
posting, and logistical support. Makarfi cited as example
the recent USG donation of bicycles, saying that the Kaduna
police commissioner was forced to await instructions from
Abuja on how to use them.
9. (SBU) Makarfi pointed out other problems the community
police would face, including irregular payment of salaries,
along with envy that might arise from colleagues outside the
initiative. He posited that corruption could not be
eliminated in the Nigerian police if wages were not paid
promptly. He recalled how President Obasanjo, at a recent
meeting, furiously challenged IG Tafa Balogun upon hearing
that some police officers in Kaduna were owed salary arrears
of several months. Makarfi explained that he personally
reported the matter to the President Obasanjo because
non-payment of salary was a security problem. "You cannot
expect them to effectively discharge their duties if they are
not paid," Makarfi told Obasanjo, he said.
10. (SBU) Many laudable programs in Nigeria die for lack of
continuity and sustainability. This inconsistency and lack
of commitment by the policy makers is one hurdle Makarfi says
he is trying to overcome. If he succeeds, then like every
other Nigerian politician, he will likely set his sights on
national office. His view of Kaduna's economy is more
sanguine than that of the business people with whom the
Ambassador had met on the same trip.