Cablegate: Islamic Outreach in Nigeria

DE RUEHUJA #2162/01 3351604
P 011604Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

B. ABUJA 02014
C. ABUJA 02013
D. ABUJA 01890
E. ABUJA 01271
F. ABUJA 01270


1. (U) Recognizing the importance of improving our
relationships with and understanding of Muslims in Nigeria,
the U.S. Mission in Nigeria incorporates engagement with
Muslim communities as part of our daily work. As roughly
half of Nigeria's population is Muslim, many of the
interlocutors of Embassy Abuja and Consulate General Lagos
involve members of the Muslim community. Mission personnel
regularly discuss religious freedom with the Nigerian
Government (GON) as part of overall efforts to promote human
rights and improve inter-religious relations. The Ambassador
and Mission staff play active roles in discussing and
advocating these issues with government, religious, civil
society, private sector, and traditional leaders. Designated
officers in Abuja and Lagos retain responsibility for
integrating Muslim Outreach into other Embassy activities.
Staff regularly travel to northern Nigeria, which has a
predominately Muslim population. This report provides
information on the Mission's recent (since July 2009),
ongoing, and planned (through March 2010) outreach
initiatives and supplements information provided earlier via
ref A. Please see reftels E and F for details on earlier
initiatives. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) Mission provides the following information on recent
Muslim outreach initiatives:

-- On August 26, the Consul General hosted an Iftar dinner to
commemorate the month of Ramadan. Guests included
traditional rulers, Muslim clerics, political leaders,
diplomats, journalists, representatives of Islamic civic
groups, Muslim staff of Consulate General Lagos, and alumni
of USG-sponsored exchange programs. Guests commended Mission
Nigeria and President Obama for fostering peace, friendship,
mutual respect, and better understanding between Americans
and the Muslim world.

-- On September 24, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of
Consulate General Lagos collaborated with the Center for
Inter-Religious Relations in Africa, the Islamic Network for
Development, the Youth and Gender Network, and the
Organization for Non-Formal Education Foundation to
commemorate World Peace Day. Five guest speakers presented
papers on peaceful co-existence and inter-religious dialogue,
followed by a question and answer session. The 115 guests
also participated in small group discussions about the causes
of conflict and ways of promoting peace and tolerance in

-- From October 8 to 11, PolOff accompanied Special
Representative Farah Pandith to meetings in Abuja, Kaduna,
and Kano with Nigerian religious leaders, civil society
activists, and government officials to promote
person-to-person engagement with diverse Muslim communities.
(Please see reftel D for details on Special Representative
Pandith's visit.)

-- On October 17, U.S. Mission personnel and volunteers from
the Jos inter-faith community cleaned and refurbished
basketball and volleyball courts at the Dadin Kowa Peace Zone
Qbasketball and volleyball courts at the Dadin Kowa Peace Zone
Recreation Center. Several "Peace Clubs," consisting of
Christian and Muslim youth from local neighborhoods,
regularly use the Center's facilities as part of a program to
reduce violence by integrating youth of different religious
and ethnic groups into sports activities. A program funded
by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

ABUJA 00002162 002 OF 005

supports these "Peace Clubs."

-- From October 20 to 23, PolOffs traveled to Maiduguri,
Borno State, where they met with religious leaders and
academics to better understand the causes of violence and to
identify communities that may be most vulnerable to
recruitment by extremists. They expressed condolences to the
Deputy Governor of Borno and the Shehu of Borno for the loss
of lives during the Boko Haram attacks and distributed
commemorative digital videos and transcripts of President
Obama's speeches to students at the University of Maiduguri,
a reported recruiting ground for members of Boko Haram.
(Please see reftels B and C for details on PolOffs' trip to

-- On November 12, USAID signed a $40 million, five-year
cooperative agreement with Research Triangle Institute to
implement the Mission's new local governance program,
"Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Development (LEAD).
The project, which will initially operate in Sokoto and
Bauchi states, will build the capacity of local government
councilors and chairpersons, staff, and other selected state
government authorities to plan and manage budgets and to
evaluate and improve fiscal and administrative tasks.

-- From November 16 to 20, PolOff and Office of Security
Cooperation (OSC) staff traveled to Borno State. They met
with students and security personnel and visited a school
supported by the Ambassador's Girls' Scholarship Program,
damaged in the Boko Haram attacks. (Embassy will report
details via septel.)

-- Mission Defense Department personnel from the OSC and
Civil Military Support Element (CSME) recently completed
several humanitarian assistance projects in predominately
Muslim communities in Northern Nigeria including:
construction of a health education center in Niger state;
renovation of medical clinics in Niger and Borno States;
donations of adaptive eye wear and excess medical property in
Niger and Borno States; renovation of an Intensive Care Unit
in Kano; and construction of medical waste incinerators for
hospitals in Kano, Jigawa, and Katsina States.


3. (SBU) Mission provides the following information on
ongoing outreach initiatives:

-- The Mission supports the "Greetings from America" radio
program featuring the experiences of Muslim and Christian
Nigerian high school and college students studying in the
United States. The program is syndicated on several radio
stations throughout northern Nigeria, including the
Kano-based Voice of America affiliate, Freedom Radio.

-- The Mission supports job skills development training
grants, totaling 85,000 U.S. dollars, for Muslim women in
Abuja and Kaduna.

-- PAS administers the Youth Exchange Program (YES) in eight
Northern States. The $1.8 million program provides
high-school students with the opportunity to study one
academic year in Iowa. Upon return, many YES alumni have
become involved in improving living conditions and governance
in their communities.

-- PAS administers the English Access Micro-Scholarship
Program in Kaduna, Kano, and Bauchi States. This program
provides 40 underprivileged, high-school students with
Qprovides 40 underprivileged, high-school students with
opportunities to study English, thereby improving their
future educational and employment prospects.

-- PAS administers the International Visitors' Leadership
Program (IVLP), providing opportunities for an average of 40
Nigerian future leaders to learn more about the United States
through personal experience. The IVLP exposes potential
leaders to U.S. professional counterparts, institutions,
policies, culture, and values. Visitors return from these
three-week programs with a broad and positive understanding

ABUJA 00002162 003 OF 005

of the United States, which produces a multiplier effect
within Nigeria. Between July 2009 and March 2010, eight
Muslims from Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara States
will have participated in the IVLP.

-- The Fulbright Foreign Language Assistant Program currently
sponsors a secondary school teacher from Sokoto, who teaches
Hausa language and culture at Michigan State University. The
program promotes the exchange of cultural values to establish
mutual understanding.

-- The Fulbright Junior Staff Development program sponsors
four Muslim participants from Kaduna, Kano, and Kwara States
involved in doctoral research in U.S. universities. The
program exposes participants to standard research facilities
and the latest journals in their areas of specialization,
with the goal of having them return to Nigeria as better
teachers and researchers who will share their U.S.
experiences with colleagues and promote a better
understanding of U.S. society, culture, and education system.

-- PAS personnel established American Corners operations in
regional centers across Nigeria to support outreach and
program activities. American Corners operating in cities
with significant Muslim populations include those in Abuja,
Maiduguri, Kano, Bauchi, Jos, and Sokoto.

-- To enhance communications and relations with interlocutors
in the North, Embassy Abuja offers a weekly Hausa language
course for interested personnel.

-- In 2006, USAID established Conflict Mitigation and
Management Regional Councils (CMMRC) in Kano, Kaduna,
Plateau, Rivers, and Delta States under the Conflict
Abatement through Local Mitigation (CALM) Program,
implemented by the International Foundation for Education and
Self Help (IFESH). CMMRCs serve as the hub for responding to
episodic, communal, ethnic, religious, and other ongoing
conflicts in their respective states. They implement their
activities in collaboration with various implementing
partners as well as with state and local officials. While
all Councils can collect and analyze data, they often lack
systematic approaches to working with government or security
agencies to act proactively against potential outbreaks.
USAID personnel are helping the Councils to establish early
warning systems and response protocols.

-- The Inter-faith Engagement, a pilot program supported by
USAID, strengthens community dialogue and reconciliation
through the Inter-faith Mediation Centre (IMC), actively
engaged in management of inter-religious conflicts.

-- USAID's Civil Society Advocacy, Awareness, and Empowerment
program strengthens the capacity of civil society
organizations, transforming them into more effective
advocates for their issues.

-- USAID's Maximizing Agricultural Revenues and Key
Enterprises in Target Sites (MARKETS) project helps increase
agricultural productivity in several Northern States,
including Kano and Kaduna.

-- The USAID-supported Micro-Finance Services Program
introduces innovative micro-finance solutions to under-served
markets in Northern Nigeria.

-- The USAID-supported Teacher Training Initiative supports
curriculum development and recruitment of female teacher
training candidates in three Northern States.
Qtraining candidates in three Northern States.

-- USAID supports several health programs throughout Northern
Nigeria including: dissemination of sexual and reproductive
health information; immunization campaigns; net distribution
and malaria treatment awareness; ante-natal and newborn care
training; and HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment programs.

-- The Department of Defense sponsors health research
programs and HIV-AIDS testing and prevention programs
throughout Northern Nigeria.

-- Volunteers from the Mission use their personal time to

ABUJA 00002162 004 OF 005

develop curriculum and teach various skills in the African
School of Excellence and the extended Old Waterboard
Community in Suleja, about an hour from Abuja. The Mission's
Physician's Assistant recently led a team that organized a
health education dialogue about breast cancer. The session,
sponsored by the Bluffton, South Carolina, Chapter of the
American Cancer Society, informed participating women and
girls about the importance of regular breast examinations.
Mission volunteers plan to discuss menopause and eyesight
care and host soccer lessons in December.

4. (U) Mission provides the following information on planned
initiatives through March 2010:

-- During the next four months, Mission Nigeria will engage
several Muslim communities in Northern Nigeria. The
Ambassador, for example, will travel in December to Katsina,
Kebbi, and Sokoto States, where she will speak at Katsina
University to follow up themes from the President's Cairo
speech, meet with students and university leaders at the
American Corner in Sokoto, and discuss polio eradication
efforts and U.S. assistance with religious leaders, including
the Sultan of Sokoto.

-- PolOffs plan to travel to Katsina State in December to
meet with religious leaders and host a round-table discussion
for youth, to Sokoto and Kebbi States in January 2010 to meet
with religious leaders and host roundtable discussions for
women and youth, and to Bauchi State in March 2010 to meet
with religious leaders and host a roundtable discussion for

-- In January 2010 Consulate General Lagos plans to host a
luncheon for religious leaders, including Muslim scholars and

-- The Mission's Northern Education Initiative will focus on
strengthening basic-education service-delivery systems in
several Northern States. USAID is currently seeking an
implementing partner.

-- In February 2010, the Mission will host National Day
receptions in Abuja and Lagos. Guests for both events will
include Muslim government officials, politicians, business
leaders, civil society activists, religious leaders, and
academics. Besides the reception, activities will include
cultural and education events sponsored by various Mission
departments, including outreach to Muslim communities.

-- OSC and AID plan jointly to design a new inter-faith
program called Training of Leaders on Religious and National
Coexistence (TOLERANCE). The Inter-faith Mediation Centre
(IMC) will implement this program to support durable
inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue to encourage tolerance
and peaceful co-existence among Nigeria's diverse religious
and ethnic groups. The IMC office will operate in Kaduna on
a street between Muslim and Christian neighborhoods that has
equal numbers of Muslim and Christian residents.

-- The OSC and CMSE plan to complete the following
humanitarian assistance projects, assuming approval by the
Africa Command project manager: donation of excess property
to a school and the Suleja Hospital in Kano; renovation of
the Government Girls' Arabic Secondary School in Kano;
construction of an in-patient ward for Sheikh Muhd Jidda
Qconstruction of an in-patient ward for Sheikh Muhd Jidda
General Hospital in Kano; renovation of the Tudan Maliki
Special Education School in Kano; construction of an
in-patient ward and latrines for Bagwai District Medical
Hospital in Katsina; bore-hole construction for the Rinjin
Gaiya School in Katsina; and construction of a medical waste
incinerator for the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital in Kaduna.


5. (SBU) In implementing Islamic Outreach activities, the
Mission has identified the following sensitivities and

ABUJA 00002162 005 OF 005


-- Political competition and manipulation, weak security
infrastructure and governance institutions, resource
competition, and ethnic and religious tensions continue to
fuel violent conflicts throughout Nigeria. Authorities have
often responded ineffectively or slowly to violations of
religious freedom and sectarian conflicts. Violence,
tension, and hostility between Christians and Muslims occur
with some frequency. Therefore, Mission Nigeria attempts to
balance its outreach between Muslim and Christian communities
and places priority on mitigating conflicts and promoting
inter- and intra-religious respect.

-- Travel to many parts of the predominately Muslim North is
particularly difficult due to long distances, poor roads and
infrastructure, and security concerns. Mission Nigeria
supports the opening of a new Consulate in Kano to promote
U.S. interests and enhance mutual understanding and respect
through increased contact with Muslim populations in the
North. A permanent presence there would ease travel and
access to other points in the Northern States and enhance the
sustainability and impact of our programs.

-- The Mission currently has only one language-designated
position, despite the status of Hausa as the predominant,
spoken language in the North. The Mission would benefit from
additional language training for officers before arrival at

-- With additional funding and space, the Mission could
conduct additional, targeted, grass-roots programming. The
Mission, however, lacks support (ICASS) personnel and office
space to increase the number of U.S. direct-hire personnel in

6. (U) Embassy collaborated on this telegram with ConGen

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