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Cablegate: Calabar: Nigeria's Model City

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PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1924/01 2061428
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251428Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6568
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 4668
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHFMISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001924

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV NI
SUBJECT: CALABAR: NIGERIA'S MODEL CITY


1. Summary. Emboffs in mid-July visited Calabar in Cross
Rivers State and were pleasantly surprised to find a Nigerian
city that was clean, functional, and bustling with new
business ventures. Unlike its underdeveloped and
poorly-governed neighbors in the Niger Delta and elsewhere,
Calabar stands out as a city providing a better quality of
life for its inhabitants and enticing investment
opportunities for outsiders. Emboff interlocutors uniformly
credited Governor Donald Duke for the city's progress and
when solicited, gave a ringing endorsement to Duke's ambition
for higher office. End summary.

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Tidy and Well-Managed
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2. Widely considered to be the cleanest city in the
country, Calabar seems to have an uncommonly effective waste
management program for a major metropolitan area in Nigeria.
Local residents appear to have a lot of pride in their tidy
city and made several references to its reputation for
cleanliness in discussions with Emboffs. There are scores of
"Keep Calabar Clean" trash cans scattered throughout the city
and garbage trucks routinely picking up trash on the main
avenues. Unlike other cities in Nigeria, Emboffs noted that
most of the water ducts were devoid of rubbish and
consequently probably much more efficient in reducing
flooding during rainstorms.

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3. Calabar,s water delivery system also appears to be
exceptional. Paddy Prendergast, general manager of the
Mirage Hotel, told Emboffs that he has had no problem with
getting water in his hotel and noted that it was "potable."
He emphasized that the quality of the water delivered by the
Cross Rivers Water Board was much better than his hotel,s
back-up supply of borehole water. This is rarely the case in
other major cities where the borehole supply is considered to
be the more pristine and reliable source of water. Even the
military has had positive things to say about the water
supply. This month the commander for the 13th army brigade
in Calabar publicly thanked the water board for five years of
uninterrupted service. The head of the water board
graciously responded and asked for the 10 million naira past
due for the services.

4. Equally notable is the Cross Rivers Broadcast Company
which, in addition to its radio broadcast, provides over the
air television broadcasts of CNN, Friends, and Nigerian
television. A reliable, well-run state television station is
practically unheard of in the rest of Nigeria and is another
testament to the uniqueness of this state.

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Blame Governor Duke for this Success Story
------------------------------------------

5. Most of the praise for these promising developments
appears to belong to the state,s young Governor Donald Duke.
Only in his forties, Duke is widely recognized for improving
the business climate in Cross Rivers and even reducing crime.
Prendergast was effuse in his endorsement of Duke as an
effective and visionary Governor in Nigeria. He credited
Duke with improving relations with the police, maintaining
superior roads, and developing new business opportunities.
In addition to the Tinapa Business resort (Ref A),
Prendergast cited the opening of a large cement plant in
Calabar as tangible evidence of improved business climate
under Duke's leadership.

6. The Governor,s State Security Advisor had similar
remarks to Emboffs in a subsequent meeting, saying that Duke
was attempting to expand Cross River,s traditional sources
of revenue-generation beyond the civil service and
subsistence agriculture. The Governor plans to station
police on the main roads to Tinapa and the Calabar Free Trade
Zone to improve security and boost investor confidence. He
has also contacted Motorola about setting up better
communication infrastructure to attract international and
regional businessmen.

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Comment
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7. Although none of Emboffs meetings were focused on
national politics and next year's elections, it was difficult
to visit such a well-run city and not considered the

ABUJA 00001924 002 OF 002


potential benefits of a Duke presidency or vice-presidency.
The Governor is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate
for the ruling party. His detractors say he is too young and
not a serious contender, and critics point to several attacks
on opposition members and questionable real estate deals
involving Duke and his family. Still, the prospects of
electing a governor from the Niger Delta with a proven track
record for good governance is too alluring to dismiss out of
hand. While it may be too early to predict whether Duke has
a real chance, its clear that that he is one of the most
appealing candidates out there.
FUREY

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