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2004-12-10 05:33:00
Embassy Abuja
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 002039 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2014

REF: A. IIR 6 871 0009 05

B. IIR 6 871 0005 05

Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for Reasons 1.5 (B & D).

1. (C) Summary. U.S. efforts to assist Nigerian Army
deployment to Darfur were obstructed by the Nigerian Defense
Headquarters, apparently at the highest levels. U.S.
provision of airlift for Nigerian troops to Darfur on October
28 was deeply resented by Defense Headquarters and the
Nigerian Air Force and has highlighted ongoing Nigerian
military anger at continued U.S. reference to the Benue
massacre and our concomitant refusal to support the 72nd
battalion, which was putatively responsible for it. The
Chief of Defense Staff sees us as blaming the military for an
atrocity that was the responsibility of President Obasanjo or
others close to him.

2. (C) The Darfur lift episode highlights that the
President prefers to work outside conventional military
command structure, indeed, without much reference to it. But
the President's personal focus on his role as an
international leader outside of Nigeria combined with his
incessant travel and unwillingness or inability to delegate,
translates into insufficient attention and engagement to
ensure that the military command structure implements his
policies. The civilian Minister of Defense and the Minister
of State for Defense appear to have little or no involvement
in peacekeeping decision making, and the military command
sees our efforts to engage with civilians on Darfur
deployment or other military operations as irrelevant, if not

3. (C) Meeting these challenges and developing a security
partnership with Nigeria in an AU context will require that
we demonstrate our support for "African Solutions for African
Problems" in our diplomatic and military tactics. We will
also have to accept that it can take more time than we would
like to work through operational issues and that identifying
decision makers on any particular issue may be difficult.
Military leaders may already have become sufficiently
disenchanted with the U.S. to begin looking to build stronger
ties with China. End Summary.

Military Obstructionism


4. (C) In the cases of specific obstructionism outlined
below, the Nigerian Defense Staff and Nigeria's DIA appear to
have lost sight of the fact that our actions were entirely
supportive of Obasanjo's and the AU's Darfur goals.

--It was President Obasanjo and the AU that determined the
October 28 date for Nigerian deployment to Darfur. Yet as
late as October 22, the Nigerian military had no sense of
urgency, and were proposing a planning meeting for October

26. Only Chief of Army Staff Gen. Agwai's intervention-by
telephone from Ghana-energized the planning.

--On October 27, the Nigeria Air force refused to provide a
diplomatic clearance for the USAF C-130 flight from Kigali to
Abuja. The flight had already left Kigali before the
Nigerian Air Force relented, and then only because British
funding for a Nigerian lift was not available.

--The Nigerian DIA repeatedly denied our request for a USAF
survey team to visit the airports at Port Harcourt and
Calabar, a prerequisite for the USAF to provide lift from
those locations.

--The Nigerian DIA delayed for several days a response to the
DATT's request to visit the 6th battalion, identified by the
Army Chief of Staff for deployment to Darfur, to assess its
readiness for its mission and identify the cargo that might
be lifted by the USAF. This assessment, too, is a
prerequisite for the USAF to provide lift. Eventually the
Nigerian side relented, but refused the British DATT
permission to accompany our DATT.

5. (C) On U.S. provision of lift on October 28, Gen.
Ogomudia lashed out at us through the British DATT (ref A).
He said that the Nigerian Air Force was ready, willing and
able to conduct the lift and that the U.S. "went behind his
back" to do the mission. Left unsaid was what he thought the
U.S. motivation was, though he has been prickly about others
questioning Nigerian competence

Operational Environment


6. (C) Nigeria has an elaborate military hierarchy with
large numbers of very senior officers. In theory -- but
probably not in practice -- the chief of Defense Staff, Gen.
Ogomudia, is at the pinnacle. However, the President
regularly identifies himself in public as the Commander in
Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. On peacekeeping
issues, he appears to prefer to work directly with the Chief
of Army Staff, Gen. Agwai.

7. (C) On the civilian side, our experience has been that
with respect to peacekeeping operations, Obasanjo ignores the
Minister of Defense and the Minister of State. After the
2003 elections, President Obasanjo initially was inclined to
serve as his own Minister of Defense. In the end, in support
of his efforts to promote civilian control of the military,
he appointed the defeated candidate of his party for Governor
of Kano state. The Minister of State for Defense is a
medical doctor who has proven to be energetic about improving
conditions of service for military personnel. Neither
appears to have much operational role with respect to

8. (C) We see through a glass darkly as to how Nigerian
military decisions are made, as does practically everybody
else. Within the Nigerian government, legislative oversight
of the military is only in its earliest infancy. The
military's operating budget is unknown to all -- including,
we suspect, the President and Defense Headquarters. For
example, the military pays nothing for the electricity it
receives from the relevant parastatal.

9. (C) The DATT, along with her colleagues, operates under
serious constraints imposed by the Nigeria DIA. In effect
she is forbidden to work directly with the senior reaches of
the Nigerian military except through the Nigerian DIA.



10. (C) We suspect that the October 28 deployment date was
determined by President Obasanjo and the AU without
consultation with Gen. Ogomudia, but that Agwai was involved
from the beginning. Subsequently, the Defense Headquarters
appeared to be out of the loop, or, at best, several steps
behind Agwai's Army Headquarters during the planning and
decision making process. Nevertheless, Agwai's own ability
to direct his nominal superiors is unclear. We do not think
Agwai was responsible for the final Nigerian provision for a
diplomatic clearance for the October 27 C-130 flight.
Instead, there was a stand-off between the Army, which wanted
the U.S. deployment, and the Air Force, which wanted to do
it. The stand-off ended only when the Air Force saw that
with the British withdrawal there was no alternative.
Obasanjo, characteristically, was out of Abuja on October 27,
as was Gen. Agwai, and neither appeared to referee.

11. (C) On the Darfur lift, it is unlikely that the
military was deliberately stone-walling President Obasanjo,
though that possibility cannot be ruled out. More likely,
however, the seeming incoherence of Nigerian military
decision making, at least with respect to U.S. help with lift
for Darfur, reflects the bureaucratic and administrative
underdevelopment that is endemic throughout the government of
Nigeria. Obasanjo's own style probably exacerbates this with
respect to the military. On Darfur, as on other issues of
personal concern to him, he appears unwilling or unable to
delegate much of the decision-making. Yet, it is impossible
for him to devote his attention to many of the operational
details. His personal focus is on his international
responsibilities, not on the details of government: he serves
as the head of the Commonwealth and of the AU, plays a major
role in ECOWAS, and has ambitions for a Nigerian permanent
seat on the UN Security Council.

Implications for U.S. operations in this environment



12. (C) Obasanjo's operating style is unlikely to change.
He will continue to make tactical and other decisions about
peacekeeping without reference to the conventional military
chain of command. In this environment, we are likely to have
the greatest success when our tactics are clearly supportive
of "African solutions to African Problems" and take into
account the slow, round about nature of Nigerian military
decision-making. However, this approach will also require us
to accept that implementation will probably take longer than
we would like or see as necessary. We may be asked to
provide assistance in areas difficult for us, and our
assistance in areas where it is easy for us may not be
accepted. In terms of building our overall relationship with
the military, the ending of the sanctions regimes that limit
our provision of training might go far.

13. (C) In the end, our efforts to work with Nigeria's
military while imposing sanctions and refusing to work
with/support "pariah" units, may have pushed Nigeria's
military leadership to look eastward for support. DATT
received a report (ref B) that highlighted the military's
concern over perceived "U.S. disdain for the leadership role
of (Nigeria) in the West Africa subregion." This report also
recommended to President Obasanjo "we turn to the Chinese for
assistance, especially in the area of defense."