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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LAGOS2138
2004-10-21 15:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: SOLE IJAW GOVERNOR DOWNPLAYS GON TALKS

Tags:   PREL  NI  PGOV  EPET  KDEM 
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211524Z Oct 04
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 002138 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR, DS, EB, DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2009
TAGS: PREL NI PGOV EPET KDEM
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SOLE IJAW GOVERNOR DOWNPLAYS GON TALKS
WITH DELTA MILITANTS, CALLS FOR "SINCERE" NATIONAL
CONFERENCE

REF: LAGOS 2134

Classified By: Consul General Brian L. Browne per 1.4 b and d



1. (C) Summary: In an October 14 meeting with the Consul
General and Pol/Econ chief, Bayelsa State Governor
Alamieyeseigha, Nigeria's only Ijaw governor, downplayed the
import of talks between the GON and Ijaw Delta militant
leaders Dokubo Asari and Ateke Tom. Clearly seeing Asari as
an usurper who could encroach on his position in the Ijaw
leadership condominium, Alamieyeseigha dismissed Asari as a
"CNN creation." He maintained that a national conference was
required to address fundamental problems plaguing the Delta
region and Nigeria as a whole. However, Alamieyeseigha held
out little hope that the GON would convene earnestly such a
conference. End Summary.



--------------------------

-
Ijaw Grievances Are Real, But Asari Is A Fraud


--------------------------

-



2. (C) Bayelsa State governor D. S. P. Alamieyeseigha is the
lone Ijaw governor in the Niger Delta region. Ijaws claim to
be Nigeria's fourth largest ethnic group and to comprise a
majority of inhabitants of the oil-rich Delta region. Asked
about recent talks between militant leader Dokubo Asari and
the GON, Alamieyeseigha responded that Asari was a "CNN
creation" who had been given a world stage by a single
journalist, i.e. CNN's Jeff Koinange, whose reputation in
Nigeria could use some varnish. "Asari is a nothing who at
the last minute decided to use the Ijaw cause," the governor
averred, in an implicit reference to Asari's recent past as
political hireling of Rivers State Governor Peter Odili. The
governor heaped blame on Odili for "arming those boys" during
the 2003 elections and sharply criticized Odili for "not
exercising the leadership" to disarm Asari and others once
the elections were over. Alamieyeseigha dismissed the notion
that Asari now might be too much for Odili to handle, noting
that he (Alamieyeseigha) had summoned Asari for talks and had
no difficulty in getting Asari to come and see him. "If Odili
wanted to stop this, he could," Alamieyeseigha concluded.



3. (C) Alamieyeseigha predicted that "nothing much" would
emerge from the GON-Asari talks. The GON does not have the
political will to bring meaningful change to the Delta or for
the Ijaws. Meanwhile, no matter how much noise Asari makes,
he has not been cloaked with the raiment of Ijaw leadership.
He is not authorized to cut a deal on behalf of the group.



4. (SBU) The governor told us the problems of the Ijaw and
Delta are well-known. Oil is the Nigerian lifeline. Yet the
Delta which bears the brunt of oil-related environmental
degradation has no control over oil resources and has not
benefited from the tremendous revenues that revert to the

GON. Speaking more like an Ijaw activist than the chief
magistrate of a multi-ethnic state, the governor maintained
that Ijaws were insufficiently integrated into the central
government power-structure and decision-making apparatus.
While Ijaws represent the fourth largest ethnic group, they
have always been woefully underrepresented in national
offices, ministerial appointments and as recipients of the
concomitant patronage that flows from occupying these
offices. Buttressing his points, he remarked that there is
no electricity in Bayelsa state. He further claimed that no
Ijaw had been in a visible position of power at the federal
level since 1979 when Joseph Wayas held the senate
presidency.



--------------------------

--
National Conference Needed, But GON Not Sincere


--------------------------

--



5. (C) To achieve long-term stability, Alamieyeseigha
maintained that Nigeria needs political restructuring -- more
federalism, less central government. The Delta peoples
require greater decision-making participation and increased
resource control. Delta residents, he said, should be
strategic partners with the oil companies and with the
federal government. On the national level, Alamieyeseigha
said the federal government should engage in increased and
better consultation with the states. There should also be
greater minority political participation.



6. (C) Alamieyeseigha said in his view a national conference
would be the best vehicle for advancing these issues and
addressing fundamental problems plaguing Nigeria as a whole,
and the Delta region in particular. The desired outcome
would be a downsized federal government, increased
independence at the state level, and greater resource control
for Delta peoples. He stressed the indivisibility of Nigeria
and said change should come through dialogue, not arms.



7. (C) Alamieyeseigha had scant confidence the GON would
convene such a conference. He said that President Obasanjo
was not seriously contemplating a conference. Moreover, he
felt that Obasanjo did not really believe in dialogue or in
listening to opposing viewpoints. For Obasanjo, dialogue as
a mere stalling tactic -- engage the opponent in talks so
that you might weaken his activism. He noted that "Delta
stakeholders" had been meeting with the President for years,
with no tangible results. Alamieyeseigha concluded that even
if the GON convened a national conference, it would freight
it with endless committees and reports, resulting in few
substantive changes.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





8. (C) Although an elected governor, Alamieyeseigha spoke
almost exclusively from his Ijaw heart. What he sees as Ijaw
political and economic deprivation clearly rankles him.
However, while Alamieyeseigha wants greater resource control
for Ijaws, he is not prepared to countenance upstart Ijaw
militants who seek to supplant his leadership role as the
most important Ijaw office holder. While he castigated
Asari, Asari is ironically the governor's ally. Asari's
antics have embarrassed and undermined the national office
aspirations of Rivers State Governor Odili. Alamieyeseigha
wants the South-South to produce the 2007 PDP
vice-presidential candidate, but Odili is not who he has in
mind. Given the importance of the Ijaw, he thinks the person
to be elevated to that position should be Nigeria's lone Ijaw
governor -- himself.
BROWNE