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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02ABUJA366 2002-02-04 18:37:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: PRESIDENT OBASANJO - SPECIAL APPEAL TO

Tags:   PREL MASS SENV PHUM PREF NI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000366 

SIPDIS


AF/W FOR BOOTH
AF/RA FOR BITTRICK
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OSD FOR TIDLER


E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012
TAGS: PREL MASS SENV PHUM PREF NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PRESIDENT OBASANJO - SPECIAL APPEAL TO
PRESIDENT BUSH

REF: A. LAGOS 188

B. LAGOS 189

C. LAGOS 227

D. ABUJA 301

E. ABUJA 304

F. ABUJA 325

G. STATE 19427

H. STATE 20922

I. STATE 18807


Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b/d).




1. (C) President Obasanjo convoked Ambassador Jeter
(accompanied by DATT and PolMilOff) on February 4 and stated,
"Howard, we need help." Explaining that he did not initially
realize the extent of the destruction caused by the explosion
at the Ikeja ammunition depot, the President said he was
making a special appeal to President Bush for assistance.




2. (C) The DATT explained that the joint EUCOM, UK, UN,
Nigerian Army EOD assessment team believed that clean-up of
unexploded ordnance would take two EOD companies six months
to one year, and that the affected areas of Ikeja and
Maryland would have to be isolated. Obasanjo noted that,
while the British would help, they would only supplement
American efforts.




3. (C) Ambassador Jeter explained that with the present pace
of U.S. military operations, it was unclear to what extent we
could help, beyond the USD 25,000 in emergency disaster
funds. We were also looking to provide some remaining
Operation Focus Relief supplies, if possible. Noting that
efforts thus far were appreciated, Obasanjo said he would
also make the request to President Bush in writing. He then
dictated some phrases to his assistant, including, "Thank you
for the condolences...I am asking for special assistance...we
do not have the technical capacity to deal with this disaster
and need assistance...we need a strong team for a
considerable amount of time."


=======
COMMENT
=======




4. (C) The situation in Ikeja is much worse than President
Obasanjo first believed, and he now clearly realizes why his
initial reactions were seen as unfeeling. Bombs continue to
cook-off with attendant injuries and deaths. As more
citizens slip back into the affected areas, we can expect to
see additional injuries and deaths.




5. (C) The Nigerian military, though initially claiming to
have an EOD capability, does not. Soldiers and police have
exacerbated the danger while attempting to clean up by
stacking unexploded ordnance, including leaking phosphorus
rounds. Without sufficient assistance, the situation in
Ikeja and its environs will grow even more dangerous, and the
humanitarian, environmental and political fall-out will be
severe.




6. (C) There is no doubt that the humanitarian needs are
great and that we could see a substantial loss of life if
something is not done quickly to clean up the ordnance spread
over a heavily populated area comprising between 50 and 200
square kilometers. More deaths will almost certainly lead to
political instability in Lagos, including within the Nigerian
army.




7. (C) The British High Commissioner has told us that HMG
will help but does not have large numbers of specialists to
commit to this task.




8. (C) Nigeria has a clear perception of a special
relationship with the United States, and made strong
statements of support for the U.S. after 9-11. Moreover,
Nigeria has had a consistent policy of opposition to
terrorism, including early support for our engagement in
Afghanistan. We hope that we can be responsive to Obasanjo's
appeal, which in this time of dire need, will symbolize for
many the litmus test of our bilateral relationship.
Jeter