|03ABUJA989||2003-06-05 14:26:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Abuja|
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 000989
1. (C) SUMMARY: Since October 2002, Post has actively
engaged the GON in hopes of concluding an Article 98
agreement before July 1, 2003. President Obasanjo has
indicated a willingness to conclude an agreement; however
key figures such as the Foreign Affairs and Justice
Ministers have opposed an agreement. Minister of Defense
Danjuma, an important Obasanjo insider, has been
ambivalent. With the end of the first Obasanjo
Administration in May, many of our senior interlocutors are
no longer in office. Filling their vacant positions might
take more time than we can afford at this point. Thus our
strategy will be to raise this issue again with President
Obasanjo, reiterating the consequences to our military
assistance package if there is no Article 98 agreement.
This time we will raise the issue in writing, in stark
terms, pointing out the consequences if the July 1 deadline
is not met. Post will also seek to press the Permanent
Secretaries in the crucial Ministries about the need to
conclude the agreement before July. In the meantime, Post
will continue to work with the GON to commit security
assistance funds prior to July 1. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Post began approaching senior GON officials about
Article 98 last year. Since then, we have raised the issue
on multiple occasions with President Obasanjo, Vice
President Atiku, Minister of Defense Danjuma, Minister of
Justice Agabi, National Security Advisor Mohammed and other
senior members of the Obasanjo government. In February,
President Obasanjo told Ambassador Jeter he would form an
inter-ministerial committee under the direction of then
Foreign Minister Sule Lamido to examine the issue (REF E).
(COMMENT: In his discussion with us, Lamido voiced strong
opposition to Article 98. We are unaware of the findings
of this "inter-ministerial committee" or if it ever met.
3. (C) During a May 12 meeting with Ambassador Jeter,
Minister for Defense Danjuma expressed serious doubts about
the prospects for Nigeria signing an Article 98 agreement.
Danjuma commented that he did not think Nigeria would sign
an Article 98 agreement because it "usually follows South
Africa on such matters" and noted the measure would surely
be opposed by Foreign Minister Lamido. Danjuma expressed
philosophical misgivings about Article 98, however, in
apparent recognition of the benefit it would provide
Nigerian soldiers and not wanting our security assistance
program to be truncated due to this issue, he said he would
try to persuade President Obasanjo to sign the agreement.
4. (C) During two meetings last month, Obasanjo told
Ambassador Jeter that he wanted an Article 98 agreement and
that an interagency ministerial would consider the issue
prior to his May 29 inaugural. The President's Special
Advisor on International Affairs told us the meeting took
place but he was not informed of its decision.
5. (C) Concluding an Article 98 agreement before July 1
will be further complicated by the ministerial vacancies
created by the termination of the first Obasanjo
administration. Until the President fills the vacant
appointments, the ministries will be headed by Permanent
Secretaries. The PermSecs are aware of the deadline, but
they may be reluctant to show any initiative on this
6. (C) DAO received instructions on June 4 from USEUCOM to
deliver a letter to Chief of Defense Staff ADM Ogohi from
EUCOM Deputy Commander GEN Wald asking for the Ogohi's
assistance in garnering an Article 98 agreement.
7. (C) Given the time constraints and the current senior
level vacancies in the GON, our strategy can only be a
streamlined, two-step approach. First, we will raise the
issue again with President Obasanjo in a letter as well as
seeking an audience with him, clearly detailing the
ramifications of not concluding an agreement in time.
Second, we also will press the key PermSecs (Defense and
MFA) to see if we can get them to move the process forward.
(NOTE: We appreciate the EUCOM letter to ADM Ogohi.
However, ADM Ogohi has just submitted his letter of
resignation. Instead, we will deliver the letter to the
Acting Chief of Defense Staff LTG Ogumudia. END NOTE.)
8. (U) In the meantime, Post will continue to work with
the GON in order to commit the $5.6 million in remaining in
Foreign Military Finance (FMF) before July 1. Due to Sec
557 sanctions, Nigeria's FMF credits can only be used on
existing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programs. Upon
review of Nigeria's FMS program we propose the following
allocations to obligate $2.9 million in FMF:
a. Extend the MPRI Simulation Center program for an
additional 12 months. The ODC has allocated FMF
funds to support a three-year contract with MPRI to
train and manage the Nigerian JCATS Simulation
Center in Jaji ($1.6 mil).
b. Fully fund the C-130 training case ($500k).
c. Reactivate the expired LOA for the C-130
publications case ($75k).
d. Receive and sign the LOA for the transfer of the
USCG Sassafras, ($800k).
9. (C) On Monday June 2 ODC briefed Ministry of Defense
Director of Joint Services B.O. Willams on the proposed
course of action and asked the MOD to quickly execute the
necessary documents to apportion and commit these funds.
ODC has yet to receive any LORs or other requested memos.
Joint Services had promised to transmit the necessary
documentation to us by June 9. Consequently, we will have
to work very quickly to generate, process, and sign the
LOAs needed to commit these funds by July 1. It is
possible that we will not be able to complete them all.
10. (C) COMMENT: Post has made an active, sustained effort
to urge the GON to sign an Article 98 agreement. We have
raised this several times with President Obasanjo and all
relevant Ministers. We will approach Obasanjo as well the
Ministries again. While Obasanjo has expressed a positive
inclination, there is noticeable opposition within the
Nigerian bureaucracy. At this point, we cannot say whether
Nigeria will even sign, much less sign in time. These are
open questions. We will do the best we can but ultimately
the buck stops at Obasanjo's desk. We will remind him once
again, in stark terms, of the consequences of a failure to
conclude an Article 98 agreement. The Department may also
want to consider a letter from Secretary Powell to
President Obasanjo urging that Nigeria execute the Article
98 agreement. END COMMENT.