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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ABUJA1560 2003-09-05 16:54:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: RULING PARTY COHESION (C-AL3-00674)

Tags:   PINR PGOV PINS NI KPRP 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001560 

SIPDIS


NOFORN


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2013
TAGS: PINR PGOV PINS NI KPRP
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: RULING PARTY COHESION (C-AL3-00674)

REF: STATE 172062


Classified by CDA Roger Meece for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).




1. (S) Responses to specific reftel questions are below.
They are based on the assumption that the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) remains the ruling party after the
various legal challenges to the 2003 elections.


BACKGROUND




2. (C) The PDP was founded in the wake of Abacha's death in
1998, and originally included many long-time politicians from
around the country. During the 1999 Party convention, some
supported the presidential ambition of former Vice President
Alex Ekwueme, and others coalesced around former President
and retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, recently released from
prison. Obasanjo's supporters included both leading
opponents of Abacha and many pro-Abacha holdovers. Obasanjo
won the nomination and sought the support of the political
machine headed by his former deputy, the late Shehu Yar'Adua,
by bringing Atiku Abubakar onto the ticket as the
vice-presidential candidate. The first Obasanjo
administration brought a shifting of those alliances and an
exodus of many of the PDP's founders. The executive council
has been remade in Obasanjo's image, and the organization
that originally sought his participation has since become
dependent on him for its continued existence.




3. (S) Responses keyed to reftel.




A. The political situation in the Southwest remains unsettled
since the April 19 elections and the loss by the historically
Yoruba party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), of virtually
all of its elected representatives. Many senior Yoruba
politicians are not members of the PDP. Those within the PDP
are directly beholden to President Obasanjo. These loyalists
will likely remain or bolt depending on the access to
government contracts that they expect from the winners;
future election victories will be a secondary consideration.
While the Yoruba are the least likely to support a candidate
from another ethnic group, the current level of disaffection
with the President has produced alliances among elements of
the dominant Afenifere/AD political grouping and other
opposition parties. Among others, Ibrahim Babangida has
apparently begun his 2007 campaign, but it is unclear whether
he will seek the PDP nomination, some other party's
nomination or come up with a new alignment of supporters to
back him.




B. Lagos Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu's interest in promoting
his own political ambitions leads him to work both sides of
the political fence. He is striving to establish himself as
the leader of a "reborn" AD, while working Vice-President
Atiku Abubakar for a shot at the Vice-presidency on the
chance that Atiku emerges as the PDP presidential candidate
in 2007. Tinubu has access to the Presidency, the
Vice-Presidency and to Governors throughout the political
spectrum, although the authorities in Abuja do not trust him.
The recent crisis in Anambra state has pushed all of the
governors closer together in the interest of
self-preservation, and even PDP governors have been reaching
out to their ANPP and AD counterparts.




C. No governor of any party has established national
prominence by effectively administering his state.




D. There are no major national power brokers left in the PDP.
Obasanjo has taken control of the national party structure
and shows no sign of loosening his grip. The local and
regional power brokers are numerous, but their influence is
limited to their respective geographic regions. Even Vice
President Atiku Abubakar is canvassing for support outside of
the party structure. Obasanjo has a stong hold on the PDP
machinery at the national and local levels through the
dependency on him of GON Ministers, Special Advisers,
Ambassadors and most state Governors. Many of Atiku's
appointees were rejected, several of them at Obasanjo's
personal request. The pre-existing Yar'Adua political
machine now is on the outside of the PDP, and is less than
thrilled with the prospect of Atiku's candidacy in 2007
anyway.




E. The de facto political power wielded by state governors is
the ability to distribute money, through appointments,
contracts or direct cash disbursements downward in the
system. The state governors have little influence on the
national party structure and Obasanjo has gone to great
lengths to ensure that they remain docile. Many governors
owe their election to the security services and INEC, both of
which are controlled by the President.




F. The PDP has not made, and is not expected to make, efforts
to develop a comprehensive policy platform, or even
substantive policy planks on many important issues. Public
statements often outline policy goals but without substance
or action to implement them. The party's policies are
whatever Obasanjo's policies are, with an added layer of
catering to regional power brokers' pursuit of
self-enrichment. Since party cohesion depends almost
entirely on patronage, for the PDP and the opposition parties
as well, their constituencies are defined in terms of clients
and rent-seekers. The PDP claims a presence in every
district in Nigeria, but it depends on the loyalty of
government officials and security operatives in most places.




G. Many of the original founders of the PDP criticize
Obasanjo and the party, and have either left or been rendered
powerless within the party system. Unification of the PDP's
factions, and the continued existence of the party, will
depend on the distribution of favors to various players. The
only political force that the PDP can count on in future
elections is the tendency among voters to choose the party in
power when they know a vote against it would be wasted, as
shown in the drop in turnout for the Presidential elections
after Obasanjo seemed sure to win, and the even lower turnout
(less than ten percent in some areas and approaching 20
percent nationwide) for the state assembly elections after
the April 12 National Assembly election results were
announced.




H. While many PDP politicians remain indebted to Obasanjo, he
also carries a heavy debt to regional power brokers and other
influential politicians from the 2003 elections. Those debts
are more likely to be paid through GON expenditures than
through policy or administrative perks. Obasanjo has
intervened, for example, to keep PDP National Assembly
members from freely choosing their own chamber leaders,
committee chairmen or even their own staff. While they are
expected to act as a rubber stamp, enabling Obasanjo to
pursue his own goals without impediment, some cracks are
already appearing in the monolith.




I. Given Obasanjo's lame duck status, having been elected to
two terms, many Embassy contacts say they expect a
constitutional amendment within the year. Two scenarios
which affect term limits would be: a) eliminating term
limits entirely, and b) extending the Presidential term to
six years and limiting all future elected officials to one
term. Many re-elected governors would rather the first
option if asked, since most are unlikely to graduate to the
national scene, while Obasanjo is said to favor the second
option. By giving him an extra two years, the story goes, he
might buy some support now from incumbents who would
otherwise be hard pressed to engineer victories again in 2007
without his (i.e. the PDP's and GON's) active participation
in their elections. Others point to the six-year term limit
ensuring that Obasanjo would remain the "longest serving
elected leader" in Nigeria's history. Obasanjo has not
mentioned any such constitutional changes, and an open
endorsement would damage his image.




J. Babangida would like nothing more than to be accepted as a
candidate for the 2007 elections. His popularity at the
grassroots level is diminished and no longer enjoys the
"Maradona" reputation. Given Nigerian elections, grassroots
support may be less relevant to his ambitions anyway.
Babangida is more likely to look to the liberal use of money
and some agreement with Obasanjo on a manner to remove Atiku,
either from office or at least from the PDP nomination. Abia
State Governor Kalu, while enjoying a reasonable reputation,
is ambitious and would accept the number two position on any
ticket in order to ensure a chance at an Igbo presidency. It
is too early to assess the likelihood of this scenario.




K. The results of the 2003 elections point to a realignment
of political forces along ethnic lines. The ANPP had strong
showings throughout Nigeria, with the exception of the
South-West, but the manipulated outcomes of the National
Assembly elections of 2003 is driving it back to its ethnic
roots to become the de facto northern (i.e., Hausa/Fulani and
Kanuri) party. The APGA likewise is heading toward becoming
the Igbo party. The dust has yet to clear, but an AD rising
from its own ashes, or a disintegrating PDP driven apart by
competing interests, or some combination thereof, is likely
to emerge as the Yoruba party. This alignment leaves little
room for the numerous South-South and Middle Belt minorities,
but they are unlikely to come together as a fourth force.
Instead they will probably seek accommodation within or along
the margins of the three main groups.
MEECE