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Cablegate: Scene-Setter for February 6 to 11 Visit by Assistant

VZCZCXYZ0020
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUJA #0069/01 0211537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211537Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0016
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS IMMEDIATE 0014
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA

UNCLAS ABUJA 000069

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR AF ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR NI
SUBJECT: SCENE-SETTER FOR FEBRUARY 6 TO 11 VISIT BY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY CARSON

REF: ABUJA 38; ABUJA 39

1. (SBU) The U.S. Mission to Nigeria warmly welcomes the visit of
Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Carson to
Nigeria to visit Lagos, Abuja, and Kano February 6 to 11. Embassy
provides the following political, economic, and management
information. We will transmit key messages for the trip via
Septel.

--------------------------------------
RELATIONSHIP STRESSED BY RECENT EVENTS
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) During Nigeria's fifty years of independence, the inherent
strength of our bilateral relationship originated largely from the
positive view that most Nigerians held of both the USG and the
American people. Nigerians remain broadly sensitive to their image
among Americans, and many crave international approval and respect
for their perceived role as a regional and continental power. The
current relationship has come under strain by the recent listing of
Nigeria for aviation security purposes as a "country of interest"
after the attempted bombing of a U.S. aircraft. Following a recent
Federal Executive Council meeting, a Cabinet member publicly echoed
the call by some Nigerian politicians to sever diplomatic ties with
the U.S. due to the country's inclusion on this list. Nigerian
officials and many private citizens remain angry at the
designation, calling it discriminatory and unfair. The decision to
put Nigeria on this list could also influence GON decisions on
peacekeeping and on votes before the United Nations Security
Council. Political leaders have recently toned down their rhetoric
and appear to understand our concerns over outside links with
extremists. Nearly all Nigerian Government (GON) leaders remain
favorably disposed towards approval soon of a memorandum of
understanding on air marshals. You can expect a discussion of the
"country of interest" issue at most of your meetings with GON
officials.

--------------------
DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT
--------------------

3. (SBU) President Yar'Adua, elected in 2007 and eligible to run
for a second term in 2011, has remained absent from Nigeria for
nearly 60 days while undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has cautiously assumed some
presidential duties in the meantime, avoiding the appearance of
seeking the presidency prematurely. Divisions between Northern and
Southern politicians and competition among potential successors for
the Vice Presidency have complicated decision- making. President
Yar'Adua reportedly made several short telephone calls to selected
senior officials and participated in a radio interview with the
British Broadcasting Corporation.

4. (SBU) During his campaign, President Yar'Adua announced a "Seven
Point Agenda" to enhance electricity generation, food security, job
creation, road construction, land reform, education, and stability
in the Niger Delta. In his inaugural address, he acknowledged
"flaws" in the electoral process and promised to redress them.
Actions, however, have fallen short of promises. The Electoral
Reform Committee (ERC) established by President Yar'Adua produced a
comprehensive set of recommendations on electoral reform, but a GON
paper recommended adoption of only a few of the recommendations,
which have languished before the National Assembly. The February 6
gubernatorial election in the southeastern state of Anambra will
present a key test of GON willingness and capability to conduct
credible elections. A U.S. and the UK. assessment team has met
with various civil society groups and the Independent National
Election Commission (INEC) to assess Nigeria's ability to hold
credible national elections in 2011.

-------------------
NIGER DELTA AMNESTY
-------------------

5. (SBU) The Niger Delta largely enjoys a current lull in
militancy. By October, the GON persuaded all major militant
leaders to renounce violence and surrender arms in exchange for
amnesty, government stipends, training opportunities, and pledges
greater development for the Delta. Nigerian officials have
followed up the amnesty program with a series of consultations with
Delta stakeholders, including ex- militants. United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) partners sent a letter to Minister of
Defense and Amnesty Committee Chairperson Retired General Godwin
Abbe in December offering to engage on the Niger Delta, but has yet
to receive a reply. Concerns exist that full implementation of
rehabilitation programs may not occur before ex-militants become


impatient. To date, security improved considerably in most areas
of the Delta, but ex-militants staged protests in Bayelsa, Rivers,
and Delta States over lack of progress on rehabilitation and
reintegration.

6. (SBU) During the past six months, the GON has undertaken a few
modest steps against corruption. In August, for example, Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi ordered the
audit of Nigeria's 24 banks. Two rounds of audits led to a 3.9
billion-dollar bailout of eight troubled banks, replacement of top
bankers, publication of a "name and shame" list of hundreds of bad
debtors, and recovery to date of ten percent of the bad debt. In
late October, a Nigerian judge convicted the former Nigerian Port
Authority chairperson on various corruption charges and ordered his
immediate imprisonment for up to eight years. Many perpetrators of
corruption, however, appear to possess little or no fear of
punishment for their offenses.

7. (SBU) The State Department designated Nigeria in 2009 as a
"Category One" country for its efforts against trafficking in
persons thanks to the work of the Nigerian Agency for the
Prevention of Trafficking in Persons. The Nigerian Drug and Law
Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) agreed to accept assignment of a law
enforcement advisor at its headquarters to provide technical
assistance. The Mission witnessed some progress on long-standing
extradition cases.

8. (SBU) On trade and development, Mission efforts have led to the
elimination of import bans and decreases in tariffs on key
products, decreasing the cost of doing business and reducing
incentives for smuggling. The Mission helped the GON solve
regulatory and policy problems to allow increased electricity
supplies, boost agricultural production, and help establish
reliable regional and international markets, including use of the
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Mission has also
worked toward a healthy restructuring of the oil and gas sector,
and toward improving aviation safety and security. During the past
year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided
technical assistance to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority
(NCAA) in preparation for an FAA flight safety audit.

9. (SBU) Bilateral military cooperation remains strong. The third
African Partnership Station (APS) deployment in the last two years
will occur in February. U.S. contractors installed Regional
Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) radar sites in Lagos and Bonny
Island, and the Mission is helping to stand up a military
counter-terrorism unit. Nigerian troops participated in
peacekeeping operations in Darfur and Liberia with the help of
Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA). The
GON remains interested in working closely with the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote regional
security where needed.

----------
CHALLENGES
----------

10. (SBU) Important legislation affecting the petroleum industry
and oil and gas services remain under consideration by the National
Assembly. The proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and Local
Content Bill would respectively affect GON relationships with
international oil and gas production and service companies
operating in Nigeria. Depending on their ultimate content, they
could affect the willingness of foreign companies to make new
investments in Nigeria in the oil and gas sector.

11. (SBU) Lower oil prices and more "shut-in" oil production in the
Niger Delta, beginning in late 2008, lowered GON revenues.
Off-setting this trend, accession by militants to the amnesty
program allowed production to rebound from an estimated 1.6 million
barrels per day in August 2009 to 2.0 million barrels per day in
December 2009, with the prospect of as much as 2.4 million barrels
per day by mid-2010. The GON offset the decline in revenue in 2008
and 2009 by drawing down the Excess Crude Account to fund the
National Integrated Power Project and distribute additional funds
to national, state, and municipal governments. Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) growth is expected to have declined from 6.4 percent
during 2008 to something above 3.0 percent during 2009, according
to the latest IMF estimates. Meanwhile, total foreign exchange
reserves declined from 63 billion dollars in August 2008 to 43
billion dollars at the end 2009, while the Excess Crude Account
declined from 20 billion dollars in January 2009 to 6.5 billion
dollars at year's end. The decline in both foreign exchange
reserves and the Excess Crude Account may stabilize given the
steady recovery of both oil prices and oil production in 2009.

12. (SBU) In the north, violent clashes erupted in four states in


July 2009 after supporters of an Islamic extremist group, "Boko
Haram," attacked police stations and other government facilities
provoking police and military sweeps in several states suspected to
harbor "Boko Haram" members and sympathizers. The group opposes
western education models. Nigeria's Islamic leaders strongly
condemned the attacks. The Nigerian army restored order, but
clashes between security forces and militants reportedly resulted
in about 700 deaths. The leader of this group died while in police
custody, and many "Boko Haram" members remain incarcerated or
outside public view.


13. (SBU) A separate outbreak of violence occurred in Bauchi State
in December 2009 after local residents expressed concern to
authorities about aggressive, open-air preaching by members of an
Islamic sect known as "Maitatsine" or "Kala Kato." Sect members
reportedly questioned the July crackdown by security forces on Boko
Haram members and criticized others, possibly including members of
their own sect. Security personnel responded to the scene and
quelled the violence, but clashes resulted in an estimated 40
deaths. Security officials said they arrested 20 individuals, and
claimed to have killed the sect's leader recovered bomb-making
tools and explosives. In mid-January, communal violence erupted
again in Jos, causing numerous deaths, considerable damage to
property, and displacement of thousands of residents. The GON
ordered deployment of military and police units to Jos to restore
order.

14. (SBU) In December 2009, Nigerian national Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate an explosive device
on a U.S. commercial airliner shortly before landing at Detroit's
international airport. Nigeria's Muslim community roundly
condemned Abdulmutallab's reported actions in unconditional and
unequivocal terms. Several Muslim organizations issued public
statements condemning violence as "un-Islamic," emphasizing Islam
as a religion of peace, and voicing concern that this incident has
harmed Nigeria's image and interests.

---------------------
MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES
---------------------

15. (SBU) The Mission faces a broad array of management challenges
exacerbated by the constraints of operating in a Nigerian
environment and by recurring recruitment difficulties, especially
at the mid-level.

16. (SBU) Lack of office space remains a critical challenge. The
Overseas Building Office (OBO) dedicated the New Embassy Compound
(NEC) in 2005 after "de-scoping" the Chancery building because of
insufficient funds to complete the building as originally
envisioned. The building's office space did not provide for
reasonable Mission growth, much less the growth that the Mission
has experienced during the last five years. The Chancery lacks a
multi-purpose room for public and Mission community events; a
cafeteria/restaurant, despite a dearth of dining facilities in the
vicinity; and a gym for U.S. and Locally Engaged Staff. The
Embassy community attempts to compensate with a canteen operating
out of cobbled-together shipping containers. Similarly, the
Embassy's LES members and contract workers must use converted
shipping containers to change into work uniforms. The Chancery has
numerous shortcomings, including a single, one-lane, main entry
control point that results in the back up of Embassy vehicular
traffic on both sides of the main entryway, a poorly-calibrated
electrical system that requires the Embassy to run constantly on
generators to protect sensitive equipment, and a poorly installed
roof that must already be replaced. The GAO previously
characterized the Abuja NEC as model case for how not to build a
NEC. We would agree.

-----------------------
USAID NEW ANNEX PROJECT
-----------------------

17. (SBU) When State Department and other agency personnel moved to
the NEC in 2005, USAID became the primary occupant of the Old
Embassy Compound, an assemblage of leased properties, until a New
Annex Project (NOX) at the NEC could be completed to accommodate
USAID. The NOX, originally scheduled for completion in 2006, met
with repeated delays. OBO finally terminated the contract in
December 2009 for the contractor's failure to perform, and the
contract will need to be re-solicited with a revised scope of work.
This process will be lengthy, and we are urging OBO to expand the
scope to meet Mission needs.

18. (SBU) The NOX is designed for an office capacity of 105
persons, but USAID already has 140 authorized positions and


projects office staff needs for 2011 at 155 positions. (Note:
Throughout the Mission, we have zero growth and cannot approve
additional NSDD-38 slots for key policy and programming needs. End
Note). The NOX's scope should be significantly expanded to
accommodate USAID and other Mission needs, including a
multi-purpose room, professional kitchen, cafeteria, gym, and so
forth. Additionally, if the NOX's modest cafeteria were to be
significantly redesigned, it could serve the cafeteria needs of the
entire NEC community as well as provide space for an after-hours
American Club. As the leases expire on the Old Embassy Compound
(OEC) in 2010, and the NOX, in whatever future configuration, is
still years from completion, USAID has been forced to take under
provisional lease the "Dumez" building, which needs a collocation
waiver and substantial security renovations but could provide a
professional office facility.

19. (SBU) The Consulate General is undergoing a major
rehabilitation project due for completion in 2011. The project
will harden the Consular area and allow the Public Diplomacy
Section to move its operations from office space on Lagos Island.
The project, however, does not address several key needs, such as
replacing windows that fall out, renovating decrepit bathrooms
which do not comply with American Disabilities Act provisions,
replacing all electrical systems, and providing blast protection
for facility occupants.

20. (SBU) Security concerns dominate "quality of life" issues in
both Abuja and Lagos. Travel outside Lagos and Abuja requires RSO
approval and is generally not recommended for pleasure trips.
Security costs for the Mission remain high as we must pay per diem
for Mobile Police (MOPOL) escorts on trips and the high cost of
fuel. Travel outside of the Lagos islands generally requires use
of an armored vehicle and sometimes escorts by armed MOPOL. Fares
for commercial to and from Nigeria are expensive. With the high
cost of goods and services in Nigeria, the ability of Mission staff
to go out and experience what little is available is extremely
limited, which adversely affects morale and recruitment. We have
dynamic Community Liaison Offices (CLO) in both Abuja and Lagos
after experiencing nearly 18 months prior with no full-time CLO in
either location.

--------
SECURITY
--------

21. (SBU) Mission Nigeria has a critical threat rating for violent
crime. Criminals with firearms target both Nigerians and
foreigners, and have repeatedly shown a willingness to
indiscriminately use their weapons. Security constraints
complicate Mission operations and have a deleterious impact on
Mission morale. In Lagos, all official movements must occur with
armored vehicles. Night-time movements require an armed police
escort. In Abuja, travel outside the capital's ring road is
generally prohibited after 2100 hours because of increased risk of
armed robbery or assault. In 2006, assailants robbed an Embassy
Motor Pool driver and passenger at gun point on the airport road.
Airport travel between 2100 and 2300 hours requires an armed police
escort; travel to/from the airport is generally prohibited from
2300 to 0530 hours.

22. (SBU) The Mission, other diplomatic missions, and many
expatriates in Nigeria have suffered from violent armed robberies,
both via attacks in public places and via home invasions. In March
2008, assailants shot and wounded a Marine Security Guard (MSG)
during a home invasion at the Lagos MSG residence. Also in 2008,
armed intruders attempted several times to enter the Consul
General's residential compound. On June 11, 2009, armed intruders
shot and killed an Embassy Abuja contract security guard at an
Embassy residential compound. The intruders attempted to break
into one of the houses, and the occupant activated the security
alarm siren. They left after the alarm was activated and a react
team was en route to the compound.

23. (SBU) On November 18, 2009, six to eight armed intruders
breached a security wall at a separate Embassy Abuja residential
compound. They restrained the guards and brutalized on-compound
domestic staff. They attempted to break into one house and the
occupant activated the "panic" alarm. The intruders tried to
disable the alarm with five AK-47 shots into the exterior wall of
the resident's safe haven, but missed. They continued with their
break-in, opened an exterior security grill, and entered the
residence. They then began excavating the mortar anchoring the
safe-haven security grill. They continued their demolition work
until the React Team arrived, at which time they fired two shots at
the react team and withdrew the way they entered over the compound
wall.


--------------
STAFFING NEEDS
--------------

24. (SBU) Mission Nigeria has expanded to the point where it is one
of the three largest Missions in sub-Saharan Africa. Considerable
pressure and ample justification exist for all agencies at post to
grow further. Post, however, has been forced to freeze Mission
staffing, except for recent approval of a regional
counter-terrorism position (to be handled outside ICASS) after the
December 25 attempted attack on a U.S. airliner, due to the lack of
available office space, housing, and adequate staffing in
Management to support current operations, much less additional
Mission growth. The Mission has added some LES Management
positions, but needs more, which would be imprudent without
receiving more U.S. Direct Hire (USDH) staff to supervise them.
The Mission has tremendous challenges in maintaining internal
controls and managing LES performance and conduct. There are signs
that the Mission will receive soon another MSP-requested General
Services Officer (GSO) position in Abuja, and OBO is considering
the Mission's long-standing request to add another Facilities
Management position. The Regional Security Office (RSO) may have
prospects of adding another Assistant RSO position.

25. (SBU) Most Mission agencies and all State Department sections
face serious challenges in recruiting able personnel to fill their
USDH positions. The Mission's inadequate facilities, concerns over
the working environment, living-space conditions, limited
in-country personal travel options, the limitations of the American
International School, a very difficult host country operational
environment, and the challenges of managing local staff effectively
discourage many prospective bidders. These concerns, combined with
the critical threat security environment and heavy work load
because of the limited staff coverage for the range of
responsibilities, make it all the more difficult to staff the
Mission.

----------
CONCLUSION
----------

26. (SBU) While the December 25 attempted attack on a commercial
airliner has complicated bilateral relations, we continue to
promote key priorities on Electoral Reform, the Niger Delta and
Regional Security, Anti-Corruption, and Energy and Investment.
President Yar'Adua's prolonged absence from the country continues
to affect domestic government operations and relations with the
international community. A less than credible election in 2011
could seriously harm interests here. Meanwhile, we should not lose
sight of the long-term challenge of working with Nigerian partners
on numerous shared interests, including deterring or treating
HIV/AIDS (PEPFAR funding is about 1.5 billion dollars), addressing
educational needs, and enhancing law enforcement and
counter-terrorism capacities.

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

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