|02ABUJA2564||2002-09-03 13:33:00||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Abuja|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (S/NF) Embassy strongly believes that inviting Nigeria to
participate in the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI) conference is
vital to the success of the PSI. By reason of Nigeria's
political and economic importance, size, demographics and the
region's porous borders and well-worn overland routes,
Nigeria should attend this meeting and should be asked to
support the Initiative. Moreover, if Nigeria is not invited,
it may view the Initiative as threatening and exclusionary.
Some of the other nations might find Nigeria's exclusion odd
as well. Out of distrust and misunderstanding, Nigeria could
react by undermining the Initiative.
2. (S/NF) As noted, Nigeria has agreements with several of
the participants on the same issues. Trans-border movement of
criminals has been a problem in Nigeria for many years.
Reports that Nigerien mutineers might have fled to Nigeria
demonstrate that Nigeria should be included in this effort.
Nigeria, Niger and Chad operate a joint task force to combat
insurgency and criminality in the Lake Chad Basin.
3. (S/NF) With heightened cognizance of potential terrorist
threats, the GON is aware of the dangers of outsiders
fomenting unrest in the already volatile Nigerian
environment. Within West Africa, Nigeria is clearly the
largest, most important player on security issues and, owing
to its huge urban centers and diverse populations, perhaps
the most susceptible to terrorist infiltration. With Kano
and Maiduguri serving as major hubs on principal traditional
trans-Saharan trade routes, large transient and foreign-born
populations in those and other cities provide ideal places
for terrorists to bide their time or go to ground if faced
with pressure across the border. Finally, Nigeria has a
solid history of backing USG counter-terror efforts. For
example, when other countries refused to bite the bullet and
interdict Egyptair hijacker Mohammed Ali Rezaq in the early
90s, it was Nigeria that removed him during a Lagos transit
enroute to Sudan and turned him over to the FBI.
4. (U) An additional reason to invite Nigeria is its
participation in a permanent joint task force (with Niger and
Chad) operating against brigands in the Lake Chad area.
Involving the GON at the inception prevents the kind of
resentment we experienced with the Nigerians on ACRI. The
potential pitfall with inviting Nigeria to the conference is
that there seems to be no immediate plans to provide any
resources to Nigeria. When the Nigerians discover that other
countries are receiving assistance they will seek equal
treatment and we must be prepared to respond to their likely
assistance on requests.
5. (S/NF) In short, without Nigeria a big piece of the PSI
equation is missing. While impossible to predict the level
of GON engagement over time, Nigeria's past engagement
suggests a strong positive role in the months and years
ahead. Bringing Nigeria into the planning stages of the PSI
would help ensure its tacit, and possibly active, support --
even in the absence of any immediate prospect of USG material
6. (C) We believe that key GON officials to invite might
include Director of State Security, LTC L.K.K. Are (retired);
National Security Adviser LTG Aliyu Mohammed (retired); MFA
Under Secretary for Africa Ambassador Femi
George; and Defence Minister Danjuma and/or Minister of State
for Defence (Army) Lawal Batagarawa.