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2005-09-14 07:59:00
Consulate Lagos
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

140759Z Sep 05
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001422 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2015


Classified By: Consul General Brian L. Browne for Reason 1.4 (D)


1. (S) Summary: In an August 27 conversation with the Consul
General, Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu stressed he was
hedging his bets and political ambition on the 2007 election
by no longer placing sole reliance on riding the coattails of
Vice President Atiku. Tinubu sensed Atiku's stock was
declining and could descend further. He thinks Atiku will
leave the PDP and thus weaken the party. Tinubu vaticinated
that National Security Advisor Aliyu Gusau, a Babangida
loyalist who has amassed sensitive, damning information on
many of the players, could emerge as a key broker and perhaps
darkhorse in the PDP presidential scramble. Consequently,
Tinubu has held meetings with 2003 presidential candidate
Muhammadu Buhari and former head of state Babangida. While
Tinubu wants to be somebody's vice presidential candidate, he
also eyes a Senatorial seat as a possible alternative.
Tinubu no longer sees Atiku as a likely winner of the PDP
presidential nomination. End summary.



2. (C) During a relaxed August 27 evening meeting with Consul
General, Lagos State Governor Tinubu provided his analysis of
the current electoral topography, particularly in the rival
People's Democratic Party. Although now in different
political parties, Governor Tinubu and Vice President Atiku
have a close relationship dating back to the early nineties;
their friendship is one that defies party lines and perhaps
political logic. Whispered in the backrooms as well as aired
in the public domain by less discreet tongues has been the
possibility of an Atiku-Tinubu ticket under the banner of a
new "progressive" party. In the past, Tinubu has talked with
verve to us about this option. At this last meeting,
however, he was more cautious. Tinubu was noticeably less
sanguine about Atiku's presidential chances.

3. (S) Atiku's position within the PDP has weakened
considerably, Tinubu assessed. Atiku has lost his grip on
the National Executive Committee as President Obasanjo has
successfully ensconced loyalists there. Obasanjo is also
applying heavy pressure through the EFCC on Atiku's other
main intra-party allies, the PDP state governors. Tinubu
felt that many of these governors would wilt under the
pressure and make amends with the President, thus further
undermining Atiku's position within the party.

4. (C) Tinubu maintained it would take a political miracle
for Atiku to gain the PDP presidential nomination.
Alternatively, if Atiku left the party, his exit would be
precipitated by a defeat for the party nomination. Defection
born of defeat would not auger well for the fate of the new

party Atiku would form, Tinubu forecasted. Nonetheless, in
the next breath, Tinubu voiced eagerness at joining Atiku in
a different party in order to fight the Obasanjo machine.

5. (C) Tinubu observed Obasanjo was almost as neuralgic about
former head of state Babangida becoming the PDP nominee as
about Atiku's possible ascension. Given this feuding
triangle, Tinubu thought each man would do his best to play
the other two against themselves. This three-way tug of war
might not produce anything but a political stalemate
requiring a compromise candidate. Enter NSA Aliyu Mohammed
Gusau. Tinubu commented that Gusau has strong ambition but
is careful not to encroach on turf staked out by Babangida,
Gusau's mentor. However, Babangida would give Gusau a nod if
Babangida himself was foreclosed. Babangida would rather see
a loyal surrogate than an Obasanjo proxy win the prize.

6. (S) Additionally, Gusau, as NSA, purportedly has dossiers
embarrassing to both Obasanjo and Atiku, Tinubu maintained.
At the right time, Gusau could brandish these files to douse
Obasanjo's and Atiku's ardor while promoting either
Babangida's or his own ambitions. The benefit that Gusau
would serve to the likes of Babangida, Obasanjo and Atiku is
that, among the major players, he knows how to keep secrets
and he would be least likely to publicly air the other's
dirty linen.



7. (C) In light of Atiku's mire, Tinubu has begun to hedge
by holding discussions with Muhammadu Buhari of the All
Nigeria Peoples' Party (ANPP) about the VP slot on a Buhari
ticket. Buhari finished second to Obasanjo in the highly
controversial 2003 elections. What was not controverted by
most objective analysts was that Buhari won a sizable
majority of the Northern vote. If he is to run again, he
needs a southern VP candidate who can command a large voting
bloc. Assuming he continued to control the North in 2007,
all Buhari needs to take the election is to win one of the
three Southern zones, Tinubu calculated. Tinubu said his
command of the AD in the southwest and his close connections
with four of the six South South governors (Ibori of Delta,
Igbinedion of Edo, Attah of Akwa Ibom, and Alamieyeseigha of
Bayelsa) makes him an attractive partner to Buhari. The
drawback to teaming either with Atiku or Buhari is that this
would produce an all-Muslim presidential ticket.

8. (C) While Tinubu did not see this as a big problem with
Atiku (due to Atiku's noted religious laxity and his
pro-Western outlook), it would be a heavy cross to bear for a
Buhari-Tinubu ticket because of the perception in many
southern Nigerian minds that Buhari is a religious zealot.
Because of this factor, Tinubu asserted he had begun to shift
his focus, which had been exclusively on the vice presidency,
to see the Senate as a nice place to land upon exiting the
governor's mansion.




9. (C) Tinubu said he is seriously considering the Senate in

2007. This would be an easier campaign and, given his
political hold in Lagos, one more likely achieved than a run
at becoming the nation's number two citizen. If he selected
this route, he would support either Buhari or Atiku with the
understanding that if either won, Tinubu would be appointed
Senate President - the number three citizen in Nigeria.
Moreover, he also believes he could influence the selection
of either Atiku's or Buhari's running mate.




10. (C) Closer to home, Tinubu stated he was under intense
pressure from the half-dozen AD candidates to anoint a
successor in Lagos State. He said he would resist the
pressure and hold an impartial primary - whoever won would
get his blessing. The Governor revealed, however, that local
electoral politics was making a casualty of orderly
governance in the state. State commissioners with
gubernatorial ambitions had their knives drawn at each other
and were rapidly factionalizing the party and government.
Tinubu said he might be faced, for the sake of his and the
Lagos State government's sanity, to demand all potential
candidates resign their government positions. Despite this
turmoil, Tinubu expressed confidence the AD would recapture
the Lagos gubernatorial seat. He also predicted that the AD
would have a good chance in the other Southwestern states,
particularly Ondo and Osun, where the one-term PDP governors
have distinguished themselves by their ineptitude.




11. (C) Comment: Reading the writing on the wall and
getting a good sense of it's likely conclusion, Tinubu is
exploring options other than his old friend Atiku. Although
Tinubu expressed confidence and felt himself to be in a
strong position to influence national politics, reality might
be a lot less generous. Currently, the options to realize
his vice-presidential ambitions are thin and getting thinner.
He maintains a degree of popularity in Lagos State. The
strategy to concentrate on running for the Senate for Lagos
and on shoring up the AD in the southwest are less expansive
than what we have heard from him on prior meetings. They are
also much more realistic. End Comment.