Cablegate: Nigeria: Ambassador Hears Bayelsa Governor's Views

DE RUEHOS #0386/01 2760612
O 020612Z OCT 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 000386



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/25/2016



1. (C) Summary: Ambassador led an interagency team to Bayelsa
September 27 for a one-day orientation trip to look at
possible partnerships through a pilot program that would
focus on youth needs and development (see septel on these
issues), but also had the opportunity, on the three hour
drive from Warri in Delta State to Bayelsa,s capital
Yenagoa, to have a one-on-one with Governor Timipre Silva on
current militancy and security issues in his state. Silva
highlighted his safe haven efforts on behalf of militant
leader Joshua MacGyver because of the latter,s assistance to
the Nigerian Joint Military Task Force (JTF) on locating
other militant camps, particularly those of militant leader
"Boyloaf" and his 600-strong followers. Silva also noted
that he had two recent meetings with President Yar,Adua
September 19 and 24, in which the latter said he was
considering a restructuring proposal that would offer the
Niger Delta conflict states equity shares in the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Silva also said that
he raised with Yar,Adua the possibility of providing amnesty
to MacGyver since he was giving accurate intelligence to the
JTF on militant locations; Yar,Adua reportedly supported
this idea. The Bayelsa Governor also noted that the new Chief
of Defense Staff (CDS), General Dike, had just been in
Bayelsa and met with him as well as MacGyver. The Governor
emphasized that he, as well as his counterparts in Rivers and
Delta States, were extremely pleased with "the new direction
and commitment to do the right thing on the Niger Delta (ND)
by Yar,Adua, particularly as regards to the ND Ministry, and
technical committee, as well as he willingness to listen,
respond, seek their advice, and hold meetings with them."
End Summary.

2. (C) During the Ambassador and the U.S. Mission,s
Interagency/section team visit (DoD/OSC, USAID, and Lagos
POL-ECON and PAS) to Bayelsa on September 27 to examine ways
for project and program development in the areas of
agriculture, education and youth conflict management, she had
an opportunity to hear the Governor,s views on how he is
addressing militancy and security in his state, a readout
from his recent meetings with President Yar,Adua on Niger
Delta (ND) issues, as well as about his work on fiscal
responsibility and anti-corruption (for the latter two points
and development issues see septel). This sidebar discussion
with the Governor on militancy and more details on the
security situation took place on the three hour drive from
Warri, capital of Delta State, to Bayelsa,s capital,
Yenagoa. Office of Security Cooperation Chief and USAID
Mission Director were also in the van.

3. (C) On the militancy and security issues, Governor Silva
highlighted his work and that of the JTF with militant leader
Joshua MacGyver to ferret out militant leaders such as
"Boyloaf" and others. "MacGyver is supplying useful
intelligence to the JTF and has been helpful thus far in
destroying some key militant locations," Silva explained. He
added that since early August he has been providing safe
haven support to MacGyver since many of his former militant
colleagues are after him for supporting the JTF. The
Governor noted that he moved MacGyver around several times a
day for his protection, including at times in and out of his
Governor,s Mansion. Ambassador asked what made MacGyver
decide to come in from the cold as a militant. Silva said
that MacGyver had a secondary education, was about 22 years
old and had explained to the Governor he "was tired of the
life and hoped that he could continue his education and
pursue his desire to become a lawyer." The Bayelsa Governor
added that there was not "really much for the militants to do
with the money they earned from bunkering, etc., because they
could not go anywhere to spend it, and only reaped the
limited benefits it provided to them within the areas of the
creeks," he concluded. Silva said that he supported having
MacGyver granted amnesty since he was providing good
intelligence to the JTF, and had raised this issue with
President Yar,Adua in his last meeting with him on September

24. In retaliation, "Boyloaf" had attacked MacGyver,s old
camp, but there were only a few followers who had remained
there. (Note: Later in the day, Ambassador and OSC Chief had
the opportunity to be introduced to Bayelsa State JTF
Commander Musa, and the District Head of the State Security
Service (SSS) at the Governor,s Mansion. We also note in a
September 24 meeting between Ambassador and Delta State
traditional leader and statesmen Chief E.K. Clark, the latter
claimed that he had submitted a list of militants to
Yar,Adua to also consider for amnesty. End note).

4. (C) Overall, Silva said, he supported amnesty because this
was the best vehicle to separate militants from criminals.
"Anyone left out after the amnesty and still engaged in
violence would and could be viewed as a criminal and we would
go after them in a law enforcement capacity," he concluded.
"If there is some sort of amnesty given to militants with
real political and development issues, then those that remain
outside of this framework are the criminals, and they can be
dealt with in a comprehensive law enforcement strategy that
would have to encompass all three conflict-prone Delta Region
states at one time. Right now," he continued, "there is a
piecemeal approach which allows both militants and criminals
to move from state-to-state when the pressure gets too much
in one state in the Region," he summarized.

5. (C) Ambassador then asked Silva how well he knew
"Boyloaf"; he said fairly well, and that he was committed to
working with the JTF to catch him, adding that "we are
eventually going to get him." The Governor added that
"Boyloaf" was not educated, is about 34-35 years old, and is
known to have about 600 men who move between Rivers and
Bayelsa. He noted that the new Chief of Defense Staff (CDS)
Dike had been in Bayelsa and Rivers earlier in the week and
that he had a good feeling about him and his commitment to do
"the right thing in the Delta Region." Silva explained that
General Dike was from the Asaba area of Delta State (its
capital), but in his view more ethnically an Igbo, although
he admitted those in the Asaba area do ot consider
themselves Igbo. The Governor also said that Dike had an
opportunity to meet MacGyver while he was in Bayelsa. In his
meeting with the CDS, Silva claimed that he told General Dike
that the JTF needed a more comprehensive tri-State strategy
in order to "prevent the militants from moving from
state-to-state in the Delta Region when military pressure was
put on them in only one state at a time." He added that he
disagreed with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, whose
position is to bomb the militants, because in his view this
was causing too much collateral damage, which in the end
gains the militants more support. In most cases the militants
use the communities as shields from the JTF, he stated.

6. (C) Ambassador asked about militant leader Henry Okah as
she had been hearing that he was ill with kidney disease.
The Bayelsa Governor said he had heard this also and that
Okah was very ill, but had "mixed views" on Okah because he
blamed him for what he had done to the Delta Region by
playing a key role in bringing arms into the region in the
first place, which in his view was the crux of the current
problems in Bayelsa, Rivers, and Delta States as regards to
both militancy and criminality. (Note: Ambassador had heard
that Okah would be moved to an SSS site in Jos and given
medical treatment to address problems with his kidney disease
in the next couple of weeks. End note).

7. (C) Silva took time to recount additional points from a
September 19 meeting with President Yar,Adua on which he had
already briefed the Ambassador (reftel) and his views on the
establishment of a Niger Delta (ND) Ministry and technical
committee. In addition to pushing his slate of candidates
for the new Minister position with the strong caveat that the
person must come from the Delta Region, Silva said that his
other criteria included that the person had to be respected,
a good manager, and maybe even a technocrat. Ambassador
noted that she had heard from other contacts that the senior
government leadership wanted and was looking for someone from
the region for the job, and at one time had heard Ibori,s
name mentioned as being on a short list. Silva said that
although Yar,Adua did not show his hand on who was his top
choice or on his short list, he had not heard that the
government was seriously considering someone like Ibori as
this would be suicide and a real disappointment. She then
asked Governor Silva his views on the new ND technical
committee, and how well he knew the new chairperson Ledum
Mittee, noting that she would be meeting him on September 30.
The Governor said he knew Mittee but not well, but was
pleased that the latter had reached out and asked each
governor of the five Delta Region States to submit 2-3 names
of individuals that they would want to serve on the

8. (C) Silva then underscored that he was pleased with the
"new direction of Yar,Adua on the Niger Delta (ND)," and
that he was pleased that the President had finally decided to
personally take control of the ND issue and take it out of
the hands of VP Jonathan,s office, showing some leadership
in this area. In addition, the new ND Ministry provides the
Delta Region "for the first time, a seat at the table, at the
Federal Executive Council (FEC), and gives us the best hope
in a long time that there might be real progress on ND
issues," he concluded. "People are tired of the insecurity
and lack of development and many of the boys (meaning
militants) want a new and different kind of life. We need to
work with them and encourage them to come out of the creeks,
and separate the militant issue from the criminal issue," he
summed up.

9. (C) In wrapping up before we reached Bayelsa,s capital
Yenagoa, Governor Silva said that President Yar,Adua had
also shared his current thinking as regards to restructuring
the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC. He said that
the Nigerian President was considering a proposal that would
given the three conflict Niger Delta states equity in NNPC,
but had to work with the Governors on what percentages of
equity shares would be fair. Silva said he told the Nigerian
President that he liked the idea of equity shares from NNPC
and supported this approach. The Ambassador suggested that
in these discussions that it might be useful to look at
models and best practices on the development of any kind of
equity share program before pursuing this path to ensure that
it is done in a fair and transparent manner. Ambassador
briefly asked, as the road trip was coming to a close, what
Silva thought should be done with the Niger Delta Development
Corporation (NDDC) since it had not done an effective job on
development in the region, in addition to problems with
transparency and corruption. Silva concluded that NDDC should
be brought under the new Niger Delta Ministry as an agency
instead of a parastatal.

10. (C) Comment: The three hour drive to Yenagoa proved
useful and informative as Silva shared his current thinking
and actions on security in his state and his work with the
JTF to ferret out militants and criminals. He also provided
the first news we have heard on what Yar,Adua is thinking as
regards to restructuring NNPC, particularly the idea of an
NNPC equity share program for Bayelsa, Rivers, and Delta
States. Meanwhile, the Presidential Villa is being
tight-lipped about its short list for Minister of the Niger
Delta and speculation remains that the new government will be
announced sometime soon after Nigeria,s October 1
Independence Day celebrations. We have heard names ranging
from ex-governor Ibori to others as those being considered,
but lately we have not heard any front runner,s name. If the
government was considering Ibori for the job at anytime as
reported on Internet blogs and elsewhere, it does not appear
to be the case now. We raised our concern about the Ibori
possibility for this position as did the UK, according to its
High Commissioner. The Niger Delta technical committee seems
to be moving forward, and Ambassador will meet with the
Committee Chair September 30.

11. (U) This cable was drafted in Abuja.


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