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05LAGOS706 2005-05-12 11:43:00 SECRET//NOFORN Consulate Lagos
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121143Z May 05
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000706 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2015

Classified By: Consul General Brian L. Browne for Reasons 1.4 (D & E)

1. (S/NF) Summary: During a recent conversation, Professor
Ukandi Damachi, long time associate and adviser to former
head of state Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), asserted
Obasanjo may be considering a revolutionary thrust -- banning
anyone who has held the office of governor or higher from the
2007 election. The prohibition would shackle former Heads of
State Babangida and Buhari as well as current Vice President
Atiku. Damachi claimed a position paper endorsing the ban
was circulating within the inner sanctum of the Presidency
and the ongoing National Political Reform Conference was the
likely vehicle to disseminate the document when the
Presidency feels the time is right. Babangida was incensed
by this potentiality. Damachi feared his man might move
against Obasanjo should the Presidency try to advance this
proposal. End Summary.



Obasanjo Allegedly Plans To Ban Former Office-Holders



2. (S/NF) During a late April conversation, Professor Ukandi
Damachi told Consul General there is a close-hold paper
circulating within the Presidency to ban anyone who has ever
held state-wide or national office from holding a similar or
higher office again. Damachi claimed to have heard about the
document from two independent sources: 1) a journalist with a
source within the Presidency and 2) the head of a GON agency
who has a well-established relationship with Obasanjo but has
been a long-time Damachi friend.

3. (S/NF) Damachi believed the President's men would like to
introduce this measure during the National Political Reform
Conference. Damachi acknowledged the ban ran counter to the
draft constitutional amendment for a two year extension of
the presidential term of office published by some of
Obasanjo's opportunistic minions such as Special Advisor on
Political Affairs Jerry Gana. In this vein, Damachi thought
the Presidency was operating on parallel tracks. On one
side, Obasanjo's people were seeking an avenue to keep
Obasanjo in office beyond 2007 -- thus, the late introduction
of the "draft constitution" that would amend his term in
office from 2007 to 2009. If unable to muster support for
his prolongation of office, then Obasanjo will unveil the
comprehensive ban. Damachi speculated that Obasanjo's
mind-set was, "If I can't have it, none of you rascals will
have it."

4. (S/NF) When appraised of this potential development,
Babangida grew uncharacteristically volcanic, Damachi
stressed. Regarding the presidential race, the usually
self-malleable Babangida has already crossed his Rubicon.
There was no turning back, even for someone as adaptive as
Babangida, Damachi proffered. Babangida suggested he would
cause serious trouble for Obasanjo and his ability to rule if
such a ban was attempted. Damachi contended IBB has been a
steadying influence with the military, using his own funds to
calm a disgruntled officer corps. IBB did not want a coup to
derail his hoped-for presidential ascension in 2007. If his
election were no longer in the cards, Babangida would
withdraw his brake from the military. Moreover, Damachi
thought, Babangida might even swallow his pride and seek to
join league with Atiku and perhaps forget his animus for
former head of state Buhari to see how best to remove

5. (S/NF) Comment: Professor Damachi is one of Nigeria's most
industrious information-peddlers. His record is a mixed bag.
He has trafficked in both accurate and misleading
information. Right now, we cannot determine whether this
report is true. We tend to doubt it, however Damachi
obviously gives it more credence than we do. Moreover, if
Damachi has wind of a story, we can assume it has passed from
his lips to Babangida's ears. Almost as important as whether
the reported proposal is true is the fact that, in this
turbid political environment, such a move is plausible. Just
as the proposed constitutional amendment to extend Obasanjo's
term has now been squeezed into the discussion at the
Political Reform Conference, the introduction of the ban on
politicians is not unimaginable. The ban would better enable
Obasanjo to hand-pick a successor as well as to influence the
gubernatorial elections. In the Nigerian parlance, this
would be the best way to ensure your influence and relevance
beyond 2007. However, if such a measure is proposed, it
would provoke strenuous debate and cause political tensions
to quickly spike.