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Cablegate: Nigeria's Leadership Incubator Falls On Hard Times

VZCZCXRO3044
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2203 2911338
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181338Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1206
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8085
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ABUJA 002203

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPAO NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA'S LEADERSHIP INCUBATOR FALLS ON HARD TIMES

1. (U) Summary: Nigeria's National Institute for Policy and
Strategic Studies (NIPSS) has produced three former Nigerian
rulers, and scores of ministers, flag-grade officers, and
high-level civil servants. Described in past USG reporting
as the "cradle of the elite of the elite," NIPSS has played a
key policy planning and advisory role over its 28-year
existence; recent evidence, however, shows an institution
whose influence is in decline. END SUMMARY.

Nigeria's "High-Level Center for Reflection"
--------------------------------------------

2. (U) Located in a pleasant rural setting with on-campus
bungalow housing for its students, NIPPS was created after
the end of the Nigerian civil war as a way to offer policy
recommendations via a more deliberative, academic process.
Created and funded by the President's Office, the Institute
reports directly to him and each year presents the Executive
with a substantive paper containing specific policy
recommendations. Its main program, however, is a ten-month
course of study that includes public speaking training, group
research projects, domestic and foreign travel, and a final
policy-oriented thesis paper. Enrolling 60 students from the
upper levels of the military, Federal civil service, and
state governments, it is envisioned as "the nation's foremost
policy think tank" and alumni are privileged to use the
honorific "MNI" (Member of the National Institute) after
their names for life.

3. (U) Per former NIPSS director and current enrollee Dr.
Sokoto Mohammed, a NIPSS course is one of the required routes
for military personnel to reach general/flag rank, with
Nigeria's War College or a foreign equivalent being equally
acceptable. NIPSS has produced a long list of Nigerian
political notables, including at least three former heads of
state (Babangida, Abacha, and Abubakar), as well as key
advisors, senators, ministers, and local leaders (including
the Sultan of Sokoto, scheduled to meet with U/S Hughes in
early November, Acting Inspector General of Police Mike
Okiro, and the Secretary General of the Nigerian Labor
Congress, John Odah). Obasanjo supported it to the extent
that there is a plaque at the entrance honoring him, and the
library complex has been named after him (no other former
heads of state have been so honored).

A School in Decline
-------------------

4. (SBU) Despite an illustrious list of alumni, evidence
shows an organization losing its ability to shape Nigerian
government policy. The NIPSS website (http://nipsskuru.org)
frankly admits that it "has not lived up to the high
expectations of its founding fathers", and, when asked which
of NIPSS' recent policy recommendations have been
implemented, Mohammed was only able to lamely offer some
vague mention of "ecological" ones. While Obasanjo may have
increased the school's budget (and its former director,
General Garba, was part of the Obasanjo patronage network),
he also used the school as a place to get out-of-favor
officers out of the way (e.g. Chief of Army Staff General
Ajibade in May 2003). In addition, both under Obasanjo and
Yar'Adua, fewer of Nigeria's power elite seem to be "MNIs"
and more are products of foreign universities, Nigeria's War
College, and U.S., Indian, and European training.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Like many other things in Nigeria, NIPSS'
future fortunes depend entirely on its ability to curry favor
and patronage from the right people. Dr. Mohammed admits
that President Yar'Adua's disposition toward it is still
unknown. Capital upgrades from Obasanjo's largesse may have
improved NIPSS' library and on-campus housing, but it's
possible that TOO close of an association with the former
President may mean marginalization under the new
administration. Despite a good curriculum, NIPSS may become
the realm of the have-beens, the almost-weres, and the
mid-grade civil servant.
PIASCIK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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