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Cablegate: Nigerian Nuggets -- December 11, 2009

VZCZCXRO7358
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2260/01 3460908
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120908Z DEC 09 ZDS ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7758
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 2496
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002260

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - Paragraph markings and caption

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL, INR/AA;
USAID FOR AFR/WA (DALZOUMA)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR EFIN ECON NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN NUGGETS -- DECEMBER 11, 2009

REF: ABUJA 2198 AND PREVIOUS

ABUJA 00002260 001.3 OF 002


1. (U) Mission Nigeria provides the following compilation of
recent political, economic, and social developments not
previously reported.

-----------------------------------------
PDP POLITICIANS NABBED IN EDO BY-ELECTION
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Edo State politicians and local citizens caught
Senator Gbenga Oguniya and two federal legislators, from the
ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), in the act of
stealing and stuffing ballot boxes during the December 5
by-election to fill a House of Representatives seat in Ondo
State's Akoko South West-South East federal constituency.
Oguniya, accompanied by thugs posing as police officers,
sought to intimidate voters and conduct "private in-house
voting" where PDP partisans would stuff ballot boxes with
illegitimate votes, according to Embassy contacts and the
press. Police temporarily detained the PDP legislators after
an angry crowd appeared. Jonathan Mark, the son of Senate
President David Mark (PDP), initially confirmed to PolOff
December 7 the Senator's detention by police. Presidential
Special Advisor for Civil Society Relations Chineme
Ume-Ezeoke lamented the incident to PolCouns and PolMil
Specialist December 8, describing it as "law-maker turned
law-breaker." He added that "every family has its Judas."

3. (SBU) The Independent National Election Commission (INEC)
acted quickly by rejecting 4,093 illegitimate votes in the
election, which opposition Labor Party candidate Debo
Ologunagba won with 18,155 votes, followed by PDP candidate
Jimmy Adedapo with 9,960 votes, and Action Congress candidate
Tunde Eniola with 730 votes.

--------------------------------
INEC-APPOINTED BOARD FOR ANAMBRA
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) INEC appointed a ten-member Election Monitoring and
Observation Board for the February 6, 2010, Anambra
gubernatorial election, according to December 8 media
reports. The advisory board will reportedly identify issues
affecting the conduct and credibility of the electoral
process and propose actions to INEC on institutional,
procedural, and other issues to improve the electoral
process. Some board members include avowed critics of INEC,
both as an institution and in the quality of its leadership.
Some pushed for electoral reforms and even called for the
Chairperson's resignation after the 2007 elections. This is
the first time that INEC has appointed a monitoring and
observation board for an election.

-----------------------------------------
BAFARAWA ARRESTED AT "MEGA" PARTY MEETING
-----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
officials arrested former Sokoto Governor Attahiru Dalhatu
Bafarawa December 9 for alleged embezzlement of state funds
while attending a National Democratic Movement (NDM) meeting
to plan a "mega" opposition party. Speaking to PolOff within
an hour of the arrest, Buhari Campaign Organizer Buba
Galadima criticized Bafarawa's arrest as the latest example
of Nigerian Government (GON) intimidation of the opposition
and an attempt at "poaching its membership." Similarly,
Publicity Director Hamisu Santuraki publicly characterized
the arrest as "intended to create jitters in the growing camp
Qthe arrest as "intended to create jitters in the growing camp
of those calling for genuine and legitimate change in the
country."

6. (SBU) Former Governor Bafarawa told PolCouns and PolSpec
October 27 that he possessed documents proving that he had
left a sizable treasury surplus -- 11.8 billion naira (about
80 million U.S. dollars) -- for his successor in the Sokoto
statehouse in 2007. At the time, he described the
allegations against him as untrue and part of a political
vendetta by current Sokoto Governor Aliyu Wamakko of the
ruling PDP. He noted EFCC attempts to intimidate him by
holding him for questioning and retaining his passport to
restrict his travels. He noted that he had obtained a court
order to force EFCC officials to return his passport.


ABUJA 00002260 002.3 OF 002


------------------------------------
GON COMMITTED TO ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS
------------------------------------

7. (SBU) The Nigerian Government plans to retain a
newly-instituted system of electronic payments, according to
the December 9 edition of "This Day." Rumors had circulated
that GON officials would revert to using checks and cash to
pay for public services because of delays in payments caused
by the new system, which has elicited criticism in some
quarters since its introduction earlier this year to reduce
theft of funds earmarked for salaries, contract payments, and
other public services. Presidential Advisor for Relations
with Civil Society Ume-Ezeoke cited this system to PolCouns
and PolMil Specialist December 8 as a measure the GON had
instituted to curb corruption by replacing cash payments,
susceptible to inclusion of bribes, with electronic ones.
Separately, Petroleum Ministry Resources Chief Don Etiebet
acknowledged to ConGen Officer that the new system needed
safeguards to ensure integrity of the transmitted data and
the credibility of persons implementing the payments.

----------------------------
HOUSE TAKES UP BIOSAFETY LAW
----------------------------

8. (SBU) The House of Representatives Agriculture Committee
convened a public hearing December 9 on a draft biosafety
bill to discuss shortcomings and possible solutions.
Suggestions included empowering the Consumer Protection
Council to protect the public from any adverse effects of
genetically modified organisms, training lawyers on the
biosafety legislation provisions after approval,
incorporating penalties for improper application of a
biotechnology license, incorporating safety recommendations
from the Ministry of Health, and authorizing the
Biotechnology Development Agency to enforce the bill rather
than creating a new entity to do so. The Committee planned
to deliberate on these recommendations and forward the bill
to the House for its consideration in early 2010.

----------------------------------
MISSION WORLD AIDS DAY HEALTH FAIR
----------------------------------

9. (U) The Embassy's PEPFAR Office and Health Unit held a
Mission World AIDS Day Health Fair at the Chancery December 9
to sensitize all Mission community members on HIV prevention,
income generation for women, clean water for health, and
nutrition for People Living With HIV-AIDS. About ten PEPFAR
implementing partners participated, showcasing their programs
and selling medical commodities, including
insecticide-treated bed nets They provided various items
free of charge, including water purification chemicals,
nutritional supplements, and prophylactics. The fair
included a blood drive administered by the Nigerian National
Blood Transfusion Service, which attracted over 20 donors.

------------------
INFLUENZA WORKSHOP
------------------

10. (U) The Africa Regional Office of the World Health
Organization (WHO), with USAID support, recently organized a
five-day workshop in Abuja to help countries develop
Vaccination Deployment Plans. Workshop organizers informed
and described implementation and planning activities that
each government can undertake to deliver the Pandemic
Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine promptly, effectively, and
efficiently to protect their citizens. GON, WHO, and USAID
Qefficiently to protect their citizens. GON, WHO, and USAID
officials developed a draft plan, which they presented during
the workshop's plenary session.

11. (U) Embassy Abuja and ConGen Lagos collaborated on this
telegram.
SANDERS

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