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Cablegate: 25th Anniversary Celebrations in Kaduna

R 021512Z OCT 85
FM AMCONSUL KADUNA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8120
INFO AMEMBASSY LAGOS

UNCLAS KADUNA 1154

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NI
SUBJECT: 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS IN KADUNA

1. CEREMONIES MARKING NIGERIA'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
CELEBRATION AT KADUNA'S MURTALA MOHAMMED SQUARE WERE
LOW-KEY AND ATTENDED BY A CROWD ESTIMATED BY THE PRESS
AT 20,000. WEATHER CONDITIONS WERE IDEAL--PLEASANT
TEMPERATURES AND OVERCAST, BUT NONTHREATENING, SKIES.
HEADING THE LIST OF DIGNITARIES WERE A DELEGATION OF
TRADITIONAL CHIEFS, LED BY THE EMIRS OF ZARIA AND KATSINA,
AND HIGH-RANKING MILITARY OFFICERS, INCLUDING AFRC MEMBER
AIR VICE MARSHAL MOHAMMED YAHAYA AND NDA COMMANDANT MAJOR
GENERAL PAUL TARFA. ALSO IN ATTENDANCE WERE STATE
COMMISSIONERS, POLICE OFFICIALS, AND TOP MEMBERS OF THE
JUDICIARY. DIGINITARIES, INCLUDING THE OFFICIAL HOST,
KADUNA GOVERNOR MAJOR ABUBAKAR UMAR, ARRIVED ON TIME AND
WITH LITTLE FANFARE. THE CEREMONIES WENT OFF WITH NO
NOTABLE HITCHES AND WERE COMPLETED WELL AHEAD OF SCHEDULE,
ACTUALLY CLOSING AN HOUR EARLIER THAN ADVERTISED.

2. THE CROWD WAS GENERALLY WELL-BEHAVED AND NOT
PARTICULARLY ENTHUSIASTIC. ONLY THE DESCENT OF THREE
PARACHUTISTS, THE OCCASIONAL BASHING OF PICKPOCKETS BY
POLICE, AND THE HIGHSTEPPING ANTICS OF EXUBERANT
YOUNGSTERS ON PARADE WERE ABLE TO GENERATE MUCH CROWD
INTEREST. GOVERNOR UMAR'S SPEECH, THE ONLY ONE ON THE
AGENDA, WAS BRIEF AND DELIVERED IN A STRONG, CLEAR VOICE.
THE SPEECH WAS A REPEAT OF PRESIDENGIDA'S EARLIER
REMARKS BUT WAS NOT IDENTIFIED AS SUCH. IT WAS GREETED BY
POLITE APPLAUSE FROM THE AUDIENCE.

3. GOVERNOR UMAR HOSTED A LATE AFTERNOON GARDEN PARTY AT
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, DISTINGUISHED PRIMARILY BY THE CASUAL
NATURE OF THE GATHERING (NO SPEECHES) AND BY ITS BREVITY
(THE NIGERIAN ANTHEM WAS PLAYED AT 5:45 PM, SIGNALLING THE
END OF THE EVENT, FIFTEEN MINUTES BEFORE THE ALLOTTED HOUR
WAS UP). THE GARDEN PARTY WAS WELL ATTENDED BY NOTABLES,
INCLUDING FOUR EMIRS, SENIOR MILITARY AND CIVILIAN
OFFICIALS, AND SELECTED RETIRED OFFICIALS. GOVERNOR UMAR
APPEARED CONFIDENT AND AT EASE IN HIS ROLE AS HOST.

4. COMMENT. THE STREAMLINING OF THE CEREMONIES WAS THE
ONLY NOTABLE DIFFERENCE FROM OTHER SUCH OCCASIONS WE HAVE
SEEN HERE UNDER THE PREVIOUS REGIME. CROWD SIZE AND THE
LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION BY NOTABLES WERE TYPICAL FOR EVENTS
OF THIS TYPE. THE REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF SPEECHES AND
THE LENGTH OF THE FESTIVITIES WAS A BLESSED RELIEF MUCH
APPRECIATED BY ALL, MOST ASSUREDLY INCLUDING THE CONSULAR
REPRESENTATIVES IN ATTENDANCE. THE EVENT WAS NOTABLE FOR
ITS LACK OF TRADITIONAL DANCERS AND SINGERS; MILITARY
DRILLS, MARCHING YOUTHS AND MARTIAL MUSIC PROVIDED THE
BULK OF THE ENTERTAINMENT. THE USUAL DISTRIBUTION OF
PRINTED VERSIONS OF MAJOR SPEECHES IN BOTH ENGLISH AND
HAUSA WAS ALSO DISCARDED. THESE MINOR CHANGES PROBABLY
REFLECT EQUALLY THE NEW ADMINISTRATION'S DEDICATION TO AN
AUSTERITY PROGRAM AND THE SHORT LEADTIME AVAILABLE TO
PREPARE FOR THIS YEAR'S CELEBRATIONS. END COMMENT.

LEE

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