wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2005-08-09 12:14:00
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  


Tags:   PGOV  NI 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

091214Z Aug 05
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001251 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/30/2009

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

1. (C) Summary: During a July 27th meeting with the Consul
General Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi predicted that
one of the PDP Northern governors would get the ruling
party's PDP presidential nomination for the 2007 elections.
Makarfi also revealed the PDP would retain its current
pro-Obasanjo national leadership at the party convention
tentatively set for November as a way to hamstring Vice
President Atiku and his presidential ambitions. Obasanjo
opposes both Atiku and former head of state Babangida and no
one would capture the PDP nomination without Obasanjo's
imprimatur, asserted Makarfi. Despite the imbroglio
regarding resource control, Markarfi deemed the recently
concluded National Political Reform Conference a success.
Although a northerner, Markarfi stated he would advise
President Obasanjo to agree to the South-South's demanded
increase for their derivation fund from 13 to 25 percent.
End Summary.



Obasanjo Maneuvering to Thwart Atiku and Babangida



2. (C) On July 27, Kaduna governor Makarfi told the Consul
General the PDP would make no major changes in the party's
national leadership positions during its 2005 convention,
tentatively set for November. The party plans to defer those
decisions until after the presidential candidate is selected.
That selection, predicted the Governor, would not happen
until the second quarter of 2006, at the earliest. Under PDP
rules, the president and key party officials must come from
different geo-political zones. Selection of the presidential
nominee should be first, then the party would know how better
to zone the party chairmanship and other positions in the
National party secretariat.

3. (C) By making the 2005 convention a "non-event," Obasanjo
was attempting to straitjacket his Vice President, explained
Makarfi. The vice president desperately needed to overhaul
the PDP hierarchy to get "his people" in position in time to
support his 2007 bid. By preventing this, Obasanjo is
keeping the Vice President in limbo. Obasanjo was purposely
dilatory in order to postpone until after the presidential
nomination the showdown between his faction and Atiku over
the national secretariat. Obasanjo even wants to delay the
presidential nomination as late as he possibly can. This way
he keeps Atiku in a box. Atiku is unlikely to bolt the party
while the nomination is a possibility. Makarfi believed
that Atiku would form a new party if he lost the PDP
nomination. However, if maneuvered to remain in the PDP until

after failing to attract a presidential nomination, Atiku
would be forming his new party with the negative momentum of
a loser and not much time to alter that perception, the
usually reserved Makarifi beamed. In addition to hobbling
Atiku, the President told Makarfi that former head of state
Babangida's journey to the party nomination would be

4. (C) Due to the good news on debt relief, Obasanjo's stock
has soared appreciably and the political temperature has
likewise cooled, Makarfi analyzed. As long as he does not
attempt to succeed himself and if he can maintain this
elevated standing, Obasanjo will have sufficient power to
checkmate his opponents from the nomination and will be the
single most important factor in determining who will be the
ultimate victor.


If Not Those Guys, Then Who?


5. (C) Assuming the next PDP candidate will be a northerner
and that Obasanjo trips Atiku and IBB, Makarafi said the PDP
northern governors constituted the most likely candidate
pool. Makarfi dismissed members of Obasanjo's cabinet as
technocrats, not politicians who have mastered the hurly
burly of Nigerian electoral politics. Furthermore, no one in
the National Assembly has sufficient gravitas to sustain a
run for the presidency.

6. (C) Himself a member of this gubernatorial pool, Makarfi
thought he stood a fair chance. He cautioned he was not
actually pursuing the grail, but merely positioning himself
to be in the right place at the right time. He assessed his
primary competitors to be Governor Muazu of Bauchi State and
Governor Adamu of Nassarawa. Makarfi stated that his state's
size, its history as the political capital of the North, and
his good relations with other PDP governors would put him in
good stead. Conversely, while Obananjo liked Adamu most PDP
governors disliked their Nassarawa colleague and thought him
even too corrupt by their lax standards. Muazu, on the other
hand has done a good job but Bauchi is a small state and he
is viewed as a bit of a jester by too many of his colleagues
to be a serious presidential candidate. By process of
elimination that leaves me, Makarfi stressed.

7. (C) Makarfi contended a southern governor would be the
most likely vice president. Because Obasanjo is from the
Southwest, a governor from that zone would be excluded.
Obasanjo would prefer River State Governor Odili but he is
highly controversial and unpopular in his South-South region.
Governor Duke from Cross River is the most likely if the VP
is to come from the South-South. The distrust between
Obasanjo and the four other South-South governors is mutual
with no sign of relenting. Sam Egwu of Ebonyi is the likely
one should the VP slot get zoned to the South East. The
other Southeastern governors are erratic and, save for
Governor Nnamani of Enugu, not close to Obasanjo. However
Nmamani is immature and feared to be unstable. Both Duke and
Egwu enjoy Obasanjo's confidence.

8. (C) Makarfi termed the National Political Reform
Conference successful despite the controversy regarding
resource control. In the end, the debate, albeit heated, was
healthy, he believed. Makarfi said he would counsel Obasanjo
to increase the South-South's allocation from 13 to 25
percent, however with some strings attached to ensure the
added funds were spent on health, education and key
developmental needs.




9. (C) Makarfi correctly assessed that the news on debt
relief has strengthened Obasanjo's domestic political hand.
The bandwagon effect is alive and well in Nigeria. Right now
the pendulum swings in the president's favor, but it can
quickly reverse course. In any event, VP Atiku is in a
strategic bind. The longer the PDP tarries in changing party
leadership, the less time Atiku will have to mobilize people
and resources for his candidacy within the PDP, or with a new
party. Makarfi's view that a Northern governor may be the
nominee rings plausible, albeit infected by a degree of
self-interested thinking. While trying to soft pedal his
ambition, Makarfi wants the nomination. He has been working
on things like the Political Reform Conference to improve his
relationship with President Obasanjo. Obasanjo and Makarfi
have also identified a mutual enemy - Atiku - and are working
together to undermine him. End Comment.

10. (C) Makarfi apparently views the path to the nomination
as a war of attrition, not a quick sprint to glory. He
appears content to let, and to abet where possible, the
process of elimination remove bigger named rivals like Atiku
and IBB, and then make his move afterward. Whether this
strategy succeeds is uncertain but it is probably based on a
decent hunch. Obasanjo likely wants to be the last of his
generation to be president of Nigeria. He wants to be
Nigeria's elder statesman and he probably would feel quite
comfortable knowing the next head of state is younger and
beholden to him. This would help Obasanjo achieve his legacy
as a reformer. This view of Obasanjo's is one of the factors
that informs Makarfi's strategy and actions.