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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LAGOS365
2005-03-08 06:21:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIAN GOVERNOR: EXAMPLE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE BUT

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  NI 
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080621Z Mar 05
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000365 

SIPDIS

INFO AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2008
TAGS: PGOV PINR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN GOVERNOR: EXAMPLE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE BUT
HOLD THE HALO


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



1. (C) Summary: Ogun State and its governor Gbenga Daniel
have fared relatively well since the 2003 elections, which
were manipulated in order to allow President Obasanjo to
carry his home state by a wide margin. Daniel, an Obasanjo
protege, possibly could have won the elections without any
tampering. In many ways, Daniel has done a solid job. He has
successfully wooed private investment, has improved
transparency in state procurement and contracting practices
and is extraordinarily accessible to his constituents. The
state boasts a high number of paved roads, relatively stable
electricity, a growing mass transportation system, and an
improving educational sector.



2. (C) Summary Cont'd: Once an Alliance for Democracy (AD)
stronghold, Ogun State is now firmly PDP. Daniel is close to
President Obasanjo and in fact interrupted our meeting with
him to receive a call from "Baba," concerning a local
chieftaincy succession battle. Daniel's performance is not
without blemish. He is accused of ignoring massive vote
rigging in the state's 2004 local council elections.
Although a rising star in the PDP, any national aspirations
the governor may harbor will be handicapped by the fact that
the South West region has had "its turn" under Obasanjo. We
expect Daniel's 2007 aspirations are for a second term as
governor of Ogun State. End Summary.



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


Wow....Look At These Roads!


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





3. (SBU) First-time visitors to Ogun state, Lagos's
next-door neighbor, are usually surprised by the wide, paved,
highway which ushers you into the state. The road quality
can only truly be appreciated by Lagosians and residents of
South East Nigeria who routinely dodge potholes that could
house a small country. When PolChief complimented the
governor on this impressive entrance, he smiled knowingly,
and replied, "Yeah, we get that a lot." The state's road
projects include intracity byways and rural access roads. In
a short two years in power, Daniel's administration has
rehabilitated over one hundred roads. Work on each project
is detailed in the state's budget. For 2005, roads and
electrification represent 21 percent of planned capital
expenditures. Other priority economic areas include
developing an independent power plant (IPP), constructing a
cargo airport focused on agriculture products, exploiting the
state's mineral resources, and advancing the deep sea port
and export processing zone project, which the state has
embarked upon with its neighbor, Ondo state. (Comment: Some
of these ideas may be overly ambitious. However, at least
Governor Daniel and company are thinking of ways to improve

the state by strengthening the links between the state and
the outside economy. End Comment.)



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


Good Governance In Action


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





4. (SBU) We accompanied Daniel on a visit to local council
areas. Rather than ride in the official sedans, we, the
governor and about 15 other state officials boarded a
20-seater bus for the tour. The itinerary included
commissioning of various projects--schools, market stalls,
health clinics, etc. However, perhaps more importantly, it
also included town-hall style meetings with community
residents who commended the governor for projects well done,
but also clearly communicated their expectations for further
progress.



5. (SBU) Daniel visited all 200-plus constituencies during
his 2003 campaign. He conducts these multi-village tours at
least quarterly. In addition, he appears quarterly before
the state legislature for a publicly open session entitled,
"Question the Governor." In a survey of the six southwestern
states, conducted by the Center for Constitutional Governance
(CCG), Daniel emerged the best regarded of the governors in
the zone. The survey's criteria included infrastructure
development, improved social services, access to government
officials, and employment generation.



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


Hold the Halo


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





6. (C) Kehinde Kolawole, Director of the Abeoukuta branch
of the CCG, told us that the March 2004 local government
elections in the state were "massively rigged" by the PDP.
Kolawole maintained that coming on the heels of petroleum
price hike, the population was angry and primed to vote for
the opposition, i.e. the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He
said that CCG monitored the elections and witnessed
widespread irregularities. Kolawole asserted that Daniel
"had to know about and consent to" the rigging. He
maintained, however, that this tacit complicity did not
damage the governor's personal reputation and that the
governor remains "tremendously popular."



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


Call from Baba


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





7. (C) As pol-chief was sitting on the bus wondering
exactly how close was the relationship between the Governor
and President Obasanjo, as if on cue, "Baba" called. Though
Daniel switched to Yoruba soon into the conversation, Yoruba
speaking econ-spec later translated. The call concerned the
installation of a new traditional king in Obasanjo's
hometown, Owu. Daniel assured Obasanjo that he had "taken
care of it, without revealing his hand," and that the people
would "wake up and find out that the chosen one had been
enthroned." A council of families elects traditional rulers.
The succession to the throne in Owu became controversial
late 2004 when Obasanjo scuttled the ascension of the elected
individual, after his preferred candidate lost. (Comment:
Outside observers continue to be astounded the President of
the country meddles into such parochial affairs. Traditional
rulers have a pithy budget, limited power, and their
relevance is almost exclusively cultural. However,
Nigerians, especially Yorubas, tell us that this is just
another indication that Obasanjo believes that as President,
he has become the foremost Yoruba personality. As such, he
has the right to control whomever else may come to some form
of power in Yorubaland. End Comment)



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


Comment


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





8. (C) Daniel, known as the "smiling governor" is extremely
affable and engaging. His hands-on style of governance is
yielding good results in Ogun. Some contacts have remarked
that the governor would make a good choice for Vice President
in 2007. Though apparently professionally able, it would be
very difficult for Daniel to gain the VP's office, since most
view the south west as having been duly rewarded by
Obasanjo's years in office. Daniel likely will vie for a
second gubernatorial term in Ogun. If his performance
continues on course, he should have few difficulties
returning to office.
BROWNE