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2003-05-01 18:04:00
Embassy Abuja
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011804Z May 03
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000809 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2013

Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reasons 1.5 (b)
and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000809



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2013

Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reasons 1.5 (b)
and (d).

1.(C) Summary: Although admitting significant manipulation
of the presidential and gubernatorial elections in some
states, National Security Advisor Aliyu Mohammed pointed to
the electoral tribunals as the appropriate channel for
resolution of these problems. Mohammed said Obasanjo clearly
won the presidential contest; he dismissed ANPP candidate
Muhammadu Buhari's claims of victory. End Summary.

2.(C) Ambassador, accompanied by RAO Chief and CRO, met
National Security Advisor General (retired) Aliyu Mohammed
April 22 to review the April 19 presidential and
gubernatorial elections. Mohammed appeared relaxed and in
good spirits. The Ambassador asked for a comparison between
this election and the 1983 contest. Mohammed noted that
General Buhari overthrew the democratically elected
government of Shehu Shegari in 1983, then "did nothing for 18
months" except jail political opponents. Mohammed pointed to
the irony of Buhari's current situation; Buhari, the leader
of the 1983 coup that toppled Nigeria's last civilian
government, was now complaining of democratic malpractices.

3.(C). Mohammed scoffed that Buhari "will make a lot of noise
now," but eventually will recede from prominence. In
appraising Buhari's bid for the Presidency, Mohammed opined
that Buhari made a fundamental error by basing his campaign
on religion. This, claimed Mohammed, limited Buhari's
appeal, confining his support to a group of northern states.

4.(C) The Ambassador asked the NSA if President Obasanjo will
concede Buhari's status as king-maker in the north or if he
might have more decisive say in the formation of the new
Obasanjo Administration. Mohammed rejected the
characterization of Buhari as the preeminent leader in
northern Nigeria. That title still belonged to former
military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida. However, he
conceded that Buhari is a force to be reckoned with. The NSA

predicted that, as was the case after the 1999 elections,
Obasanjo will bring into his government select members of the
defeated opposition parties. The President will include some
members of Buhari's ANPP, but will do this "on his own terms,
not Buhari's."

5.(C) Pointing out that the ANPP has rejected the vote
results and threatened "mass action," the Ambassador asked if
the Presidency expects serious resistance from the main
opposition party. Mohammed affirmed the likelihood of
resistance in parts of the Northwest where unemployment and
religion will fuel agitation. The militant Odua People's
Congress (OPC) and other groups of unemployed youth will be
the basis for unrest in the Southwest, he predicted. In
response to the Ambassador's question on how the Federal
Government will respond to such resistance, the NSA vaguely
said "we have our ways," but would not amplify any further.

6.(C) The Ambassador noted that international observers saw
severe irregularities in several parts of the country on
April 19; statements by IRI, NDI and the EU reflect this. As
an example, he disclosed that he had photographic evidence of
stolen ballot boxes that were dumped in a ravine in Rivers
State. Mohammed agreed there were problems in the
South-South and Southeast, citing Rivers, Bayelsa and Enugu
states specifically. "I question some of these results
myself," he admitted. The NSA expressed particular concern
over Rivers State, asserting that the Rivers controversy
needs to be taken to the electoral tribunal.

7.(C) Reviewing results from the Yoruba-dominated Southwest,
Mohammed admitted surprise at the large PDP gains made at the
expense of the AD. He agreed with the conclusion that this
could be a mortal blow for Afenifere, the Yoruba
social-political organization, which the NSA characterized as
a gerontocracy that was too tribal-focused and out of touch
with the general populace in the Southwest. Bola Tinubu,
though a top Yoruba politician, won the only Southwestern
state (Lagos) for the AD because he succeeded in appealing to
the cosmopolitan mix of voters in West Africa's largest
metropolis, concluded Mohammed.

8.(C) Responding to the Ambassador's request for a summary
judgment on the elections, Mohammed proclaimed his support
for President Obasanjo, "based on the candidates available"
and predicted that Buhari would "go to the streets" and
attempt to call out the military to take over. In response
to the Ambassador's request for any message to Washington on
the elections, Mohammed laughed and stated "you should
remember Florida in 2001 when Gore was gracious in accepting
defeat and in congratulating Bush . . .you should
congratulate Obasanjo." Mohammed in turn asked the
Ambassador who from the USG should be invited to President
Obasanjo's May 29 inauguration, which the Ambassador
deflected by noting that this is for the GON to decide.

9.(C) The NSA disclosed that he had written Obasanjo a
memorandum the previous day recommending that the President
meet with Ambassador Jeter, the UK High Commissioner and the
head of the EU Mission to discuss the elections aftermath and
the President's plans for his new term. Mohammed hoped that
this meeting would take place later in the week. (Note: This
meeting has yet to take place. End Note)


10.(C) Turning to the ongoing crisis in the oil-producing
area of Warri in Delta state, Jeter gave Mohammed a letter
informing the Federal Government of our intent to provide
disaster relief assistance to Ijaw and Itsekiri villagers
displaced by the fighting and asking for approval to deliver
the aid in the Warri communities. CRO emphasized that the
assistance is purely humanitarian -- food, clothing and
bedding -- and would be distributed equitably through a U.S.
non-governmental organization already operating in the Warri
area. The NSA expressed appreciation for the humanitarian
initiative (and provided the requested approval in an April
27 letter), but cautioned that such efforts must be seen as
non-partisan, helping all affected parties. In resolving the
stalemate in the region, the NSA claimed that force would not
be used unless necessary, but quickly added that "we cannot
allow a gang of thugs to terrorize the area." Mohammed also
cited the serious problem of illegal bunkering of oil from
the area, a diversion of as much as 10 percent of Nigeria's
crude oil production to the black market. Some of this
stolen crude is shipped to a refinery in Cote d'Ivoire, where
oil is traded for weapons and sent back to the Ijaw militants
in the Warri area.

11.(C) The meeting concluded with Mohammed noting that he
would be stepping down as National Security Advisor at the
time of President Obasanjo's May 29 inauguration but would
not offer any hints of possible continued public service in
the new Administration.

12.(C) Comment: Mohammed's relationship with Obasanjo has
been rocky. Neither trust the other and Obasanjo probably
feels that Mohammed always remained more loyal to Babangida
than to him. However, in the contest against Buhari, both
Obasanjo and Mohammed were fellow travelers. Obasanjo wanted
to win; more than Obasanjo winning, Mohammed wanted Buhari to
lose. A Buhari loss might just keep Babangida as the
strongest star in the northern political environment. Now,
with the job done, Mohammed will exit the Obasanjo
Administration but this will not be the last we hear from
him. However, the next time we see him, we expect that he
will be walking close to Babangida.