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Cablegate: Nigeria: Consulate General Senior Staff Offsite

DE RUEHOS #0488/01 3451340
P 101340Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The Consul General and Consulate senior
staff held an off-site at the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Ibadan, Oyo State November
6-8. The Consul General and staff toured the University of
Ibadan and met with university's Vice Chancellor. The Vice
Chancellor expressed his gratitude for the institution's
partnership with The MacArthur Foundation and explained plans
to use a recent USD 4 million grant to more than triple
enrollment in distance learning courses. He also noted an
imminent shortage of professors in Nigerian universities. At
the off-site, the senior staff discussed a variety of issues
facing the Consulate and developed plans to improve ELO
training, conduct a table top exercise to improve staff
readiness and cohesion, seek FSI training opportunities at
Post, and develop a recruiting video. The Ambassador
presented her Team Nigeria vision and mission and the Consul
General hosted a reception for Ibadan area contacts including
the head of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, local
traditional rulers, and American Citizen Services wardens.
End Summary.

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University of Ibadan Expands Distance Learning
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (U) The Lagos Senior Staff, consisting of the Consul
General, section heads, and the heads of the DEA, LEGATT,
FCS, and FAS met at the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan November 6-8 to for a staff
off-site and representation event. Prior to arriving at
IITA, the Consul General and staff toured the University of
Ibadan, Nigeria's oldest Federal University and the crown
jewel of the nation's university system. The Deputy Vice
Chancellor of Academics Adigun Agbaje gave the staff a
presentation on the history and current plans of the
university and lead them on a tour of the university campus,
bookstore, and the university's new radio station. (Note:
The university was filled with new students and their
families attending matriculation ceremonies. End Note.)

3. (U) The group then met with University of Ibadan's Vice
Chancellor, Professor Olufemi Bamiro. Professor Bamiro
praised his university's connections with the United States.
He explained the university recently received a USD 4 million
MacArthur Foundation award to expand academic and research
programs. The university will use the money to expand its
accredited distance learning program from 7,000 to 25,000
students by 2010. In addition, the university will use some
of the money to equip its central research laboratory and
improve staff training. As of January 2008, the MacArthur
Foundation has provided more than USD 12.6 million to the
university since 1989.

4. (U) According to the Vice Chancellor, the university, like
all federal universities, will face a shortage of professors
over the next few years because Nigerian law requires public
servants, including professors, to retire at sixty years of
age. Younger PhDs are scarce as the number of doctorates
awarded in the 1980's and 1990's dropped significantly due to
neglect of the nation's university system, while more recent
PhD candidates are seeking employment in Nigeria's booming
banking and telecom industries. The Vice Chancellor said he
and other federal university leaders are asking for an
exemption to the age 60 rule for university professors.

Retreat Focuses on Challenges, Opportunities

5. (U) The senior staff then met at IITA for a day and a half
of discussions. The Ambassador joined the group at the
opening session to present her vision for Team Nigeria. She
shared a proposed branding strategy that will better identify
USG-sponsored activities and unveiled a public diplomacy
document that will detail the USG's participation in the
US-Nigeria Framework for Partnership.

6. (U) Over the next day, the senior staff discussed a
variety of challenges and opportunities facing the Consulate
General. Topics included resource constraints, entry level
officer (ELO) training and development, general training for
the Consulate, improving communication between sections and
agencies, the challenges to living in Lagos, and staffing
limitations. The senior staff came away with several
takeaways including: preliminary plans for increasing ELO
participation in Consulate events and improved ELO training;
a table top exercise to improve Consulate cohesion and crisis
readiness; plans to request additional FSI training at Post;
revamped section and agency briefing for newcomers; and an
ELO-led Post recruiting on-line video to attract and better
inform interested bidders, and for use in the Overseas
Briefing Center.

LAGOS 00000488 002 OF 002

7. (U) On the evening of November 6, the Consul General
hosted a reception and informal dinner for prominent members
of the local community including traditional ruler, Prince
Gbola Adeyisan, Professor Gabriel Ogunmola, the head of the
Nigerian Academy of Science, and Karen Ann Nwulu, director of
the American Christian Academy and one of two ACS Wardens in
Ibadan. Professor Ogunmola made brief remarks in which he
recounted his experiences in the United States on a Fulbright
scholarship. He urged the USG to continue its policy of
encouraging young people to study in the United States.

8. (U) Several members of the senior staff took the
opportunity to tour the IITA research facilities.
Agriculture experts provided detailed explanations of their
work in breeding disease resistant strains of subsistence
crops such as cassava. Additionally, retired FSO Nic
Robinson, a former USIA officer and long time West Africa
hand, joined the group on November 7 to discuss the changes
he has seen in Nigeria over the decades. On November 8, Sam
Eyitayo of the Abuja Public Affairs Section gave a
presentation on the use of RRS feeds to improve news
gathering skills.

9. (U) Comment: The Consulate senior staff found the
opportunity to get away from the day to day routine of the
Consulate and the chaos of the city of Lagos invaluable. We
look forward to implementing the ideas that were generated
during the discussions. The University of Ibadan looked
significantly cleaner and better maintained than during a
previous visit by the Consul General earlier in the year.
There is an obvious energy on the campus and while they
acknowledge the problems that confront them and Nigeria, the
optimism among the students and staff about the future is a
refreshing change from the litany of complaints one often
hears from contacts in Lagos. End Comment

10. (U) This cable cleared by Embassy Abuja.

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