Cablegate: Nigeria: Piloting the Partnership for Democratic


DE RUEHUJA #2322/01 3051544
O 011544Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 139331

1. (SBU) Summary: Nigeria is an admittedly risky environment
in which to pilot a new governance initiative, particularly
at the state level. Despite the risk, the establishment of
better governance in Nigeria can have positive spillover
effects for the rest of West Africa and the continent as a
whole. We therefore recommend the USG support a state-level
pilot project here. Embassy, ConGen Lagos, and USAID Mission
are ready to work with UNDP, the World Bank, Dfid, other
local and international partners, and national and state
authorities to take advantage of growing reform efforts here
and create a successful Partnership for Democratic Governance
(PDG) pilot project in Nigeria. End summary.

2. (SBU) Nigeria has earned its reputation for poor
governance over the years and the governance record at the
state level is particularly poor. Of the 36 governors in
office at the time of the last elections, 31 were under
investigation for corruption. If the USG is to support one
or more states in Nigeria as a PDG test bed, we should go
into such an effort with our eyes wide open. At the same
time, the establishment of better governance in Nigeria can
have positive spillover effects for the rest of West Africa
and the continent as a whole. The reform agenda of the
current administration provides a platform for concrete
positive change. While some may see Nigeria as a risky
environment in which to pilot a new governance initiative, we
see PDG as an opportunity to support USG objectives worldwide
of building the capacity of emerging democratic trends at the
national, state, and local level through reform and better
provision of essential services, leading to stronger and
broader growth.

3. (SBU) The current government has picked up on the
national-level reform efforts of recent years and has
repeatedly stated its determination to extend transparency
legislation to the state level. A policy and technical area
that cries out for reform at the state level is public
procurement. Embassy, ConGen Lagos, and USAID are
increasingly involved with state-level actors who declare
their willingness to fight corruption through legislation and
effective governance systems.

4. (SBU) Nigeria is at an historic turning point. The future
of democracy and governance of Africa's most populous nation
will become increasingly clear over the next couple of years.
The U.S. and other development partners are rightfully
engaged in moving forward still-nascent reform processes. We
cannot afford to do otherwise. Despite the risks, we
strongly recommend that the USG support a state-level PDG
pilot project here.

5. (SBU) Political will is mixed; key figures remain more
interested in continuing corrupt practices than in ensuring a
better future for average Nigerians. At the same time, the
federal government has demonstrated interest and commitment
to reducing corruption by establishing the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt
Practices Commission, and the Nigeria Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative. Other legislation on freedom of
information, fiscal responsibility, and whistle blower
protection is in the pipeline. There is a major opportunity
to test out such forward-looking steps in receptive states.
Lagos State, in particular, has already taken steps to reform
its procurement process. PDG support could take such early
efforts to the next level.

6. (SBU) While there is certainly a perception that many
government leaders are merely paying lip service to the need
for accountability, the political environment is more
favorable to partnerships for democratic governance than at
any time since independence. We stand ready to identify
local leaders willing to work within the PDG principles.

7. (SBU) To its credit, the Nigerian government is already
providing funding for projects very similar to those
envisioned in reftel, including to community service
organizations which track public expenditures in support of
Millennium Development Goals and projects being executed with
moneys recovered from the family of the late Sani Abacha.
Niger Delta state governments, particularly those of Rivers
and Bayelsa, have initiated partnerships with the donor
community in recent years. With the right framework and
incentives, we believe both the federal and some state
governments would commit resources in support of a PDG pilot


8. (SBU) We believe that national and local stakeholders
would be open to south-south cooperation in the context of a
PDG pilot, especially if there is adequate representation of
local experts.

9. (SBU) Opportunities for PDG services clearly exist. A PDG
pilot would likely yield the clearest results at the state
and local level where systems are dysfunctional and
governments are overwhelmed by lack of capacity.

10. (SBU) In Nigeria, we recommend a PDG focus on the public
procurement function at the state level. While USAID does
not have funding available to augment PDG technical
assistance, the AID Mission and Embassy and ConGen officers
could work with federal and state officials, PDG, and other
donors to fashion a procurement reform initiative with a
solid possibility of success within the PDG testbed horizon.
UNDP, World Bank, and Dfid in-country have already told us
they would be pleased to work closely with us on such an
effort. Although no new money is available, USAID is
currently implementing activities at the state and local
level aimed at providing officials and key staff with skills
to carry out legislative and oversight activities in a
transparent and democratic manner. Focus areas include 1)
policy reforms supportive of local governance, 2) clarified
roles and responsibilities of the different levels of
government, and 3) institutionalized mechanisms for citizen
participation in government decision making processes.

11. (SBU) In sum, "Team Nigeria" welcomes this opportunity.
We ask that USG reps convey our willingness to work with PDG
and Nigerian officials on a concrete and specific plan for a
pilot here.

© Scoop Media

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