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05LAGOS116 2005-01-28 13:31:00 SECRET Consulate Lagos
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281331Z Jan 05
					  S E C R E T LAGOS 000116 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/19/2014

REF: A. 04 LAGOS 2591

B. 04 LAGOS 2592

C. 04 LAGOS 2513


E. 04 ABUJA 2075

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

1. (S) Summary: Based on the Consul General's conversations
with several political contacts over the past few days,
dissatisfaction with President Obasanjo is again escalating
following a brief respite over the holidays. The whispering
about whether Obasanjo should be removed from office is
becoming much more audible. Support is lukewarm for the
president's proposed national dialogue; some consider it a
ploy to extend his own power. Several prominent Ijaw and
Yoruba leaders, in particular, continue to push for a
sovereign national conference, possibly as a vehicle to bid
Obasanjo farewell. End summary.

2. (S) As Nigeria emerges from the holiday season, talk of
dissatisfaction with President Obasanjo is spreading among
the southern political class. The Anambra political crisis
and the ouster of People's Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman
Audu Ogbeh have given additional ammunition to Obasanjo's
critics (Reftels). Delta State Governor James Ibori
recounted that Obasanjo had invited several governors to a
private meeting wherein he excoriated Vice President Atiku
and asked the state executives to side with him in the Audu
Ogbeh fracas. Immediately after the meeting, the governors
phoned Atiku to tell him what transpired, according to Ibori.
(Comment: Many of the governors present at the meeting are
aligned with Atiku and Ogbeh. End Comment).

3. (S) Political figures have been actively meeting across
party lines and ethnic affiliations and their talk has been
focused on Obasanjo's failings and the parlous political
conditions in the country. A prominent attorney told us that
rumors are circulating among the political class that VP
Atiku has told his allies within the PDP that he has given up
on Obasanjo and does not care whether he is removed by
constitutional (impeachment) or other means. It is equally a
matter of political chatter that Atiku and some of his PDP
allies have begun to pay agents provocateurs to begin
fomenting trouble within the government and in different
areas of the country to further erode Obasanjo's ability to
govern. (Comment: We cannot judge the veracity of these
rumors. However, this type of chatter is persistent. End

4. (S) Some Southern leaders are outraged by Obasanjo's call
for a national dialogue. They see it as an ersatz substitute
for the sovereign national conference they have been
advocating and Obasanjo has been opposing. Some worry that
behind the proposed dialogue is a ploy to craft a
constitutional amendment that would allow an Obasanjo third
term or a tactic to get an Obasanjo surrogate into power if a
third term proves impossible.

5. (S) Certain Ijaw and Yoruba leaders, in particular, are
actively promoting a national conference. The largest ethnic
group in the Niger Delta, Ijaws feel slighted regarding the
existing revenue allocation structure. They want devolution
of power away from Abuja to the state. In short, they want
to keep much more of the oil revenue at home.

6. (S) Many Yorubas are disappointed with Obasanjo's
performance. They think he has squandered the "Yoruba's time
in office" by not moving the economy forward and also by
aggrandizing power in the center. Decentralization has been
a traditional theme of Yoruba politics but Obasanjo has
ignored it, much to his ethnic kin's chagrin. Additionally,
many of them believe that should the PDP presidential
nomination boil down to a race between Atiku and former head
of state Ibrahim Babangida, Obasanjo would side with the
latter. However, Babangida is anathema to many Yoruba
politicians because of his 1993 annulment of elections that
would have brought the Yoruba Moshood Abiola into power.
Instead of it being a venue to discuss issues such as the
constitution and Nigeria's federal structure, some now want
to use the proposed conference as a vehicle to advocate the
removal of Obasanjo.

7. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja.