|06LAGOS714||2006-05-25 14:11:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Consulate Lagos|
1. (C) During a May 22 conversation, Edo State Senator Daisy
Danjuma gave a Senate insider's view of President Obasanjo's
failed last-ditch efforts to garner her support for his third
term bid. Obasanjo personally pleaded with her and her
husband, Obasanjo's former Defense Minister, for support.
Both declined. Regarding deliberations in the Senate, she
painted a picture of frenzied Obasanjo supporters' attempts
to alternatively cajole and intimidate third term opponents.
The third term amendment has splintered the party. Unless
Obasanjo is genuine about reconciliation, the party will be
weakened as many anti-Obasanjo elements are more willing to
defect. End summary.
DANJUMAS REBUFF THE PRESIDENT'S ADVANCES
2. (C) Edo State Senator Daisy Danjuma recounted an early
May telephone call from President Obasanjo regarding the
third term amendment. According to Danjuma, Obasanjo first
solicited her support for the measure. She responded that
her husband had already voiced to Obasanjo is opposition.
There was no way she could publicly oppose her strong-willed
husband. "He would throw me out of the house," she told
Obasanjo. Then, Obasanjo pleaded with her not to speak
against the measure on the Senate floor. She refused this
request as well, stating that her constituents expected to
hear from her. Then, Obasanjo told her he did not want a
third term but did not want to hand the party to his Vice
President. If your husband wanted the job, I would be
satisfied to retire to my chicken farm, Obasanjo purportedly
said. She responded that Obasanjo knew darn well that
General Danjuma had no interest in being President and that
the President also had no interest in Danjuma succeeding him.
Last, Obasanjo tried to convince her not to persuade other
Senators to join the anti-third term camp. She stated that
she refused that entreaty as well. In the end, Obasanjo
muttered something about her being "troublesome," then ended
the phone call.
3. (C) General Danjuma, a longtime ally who practically
forced Obasanjo to assume command in 1976 and who backed him
in 1996, probably enjoys more respect inside the Nigerian
military than any other retired general, including his former
subordinates, Obasanjo and Babangida. The President must
listen to him and he is one of the few people who can talk
frankly to the President without fear, Senator Danjuma
asserted. As early as last year her husband had warned
Obasanjo to drop the third term shenanigans and begin to
identify a suitable successor. During a more recent
conversation, General Danjuma firmly iterated his opposition,
stating he would fight to assure Obasanjo was defeated.
Because of her husband's clear opposition, the presidency
started threatening to confiscate his lucrative oil block,
4. (C) In the lead-up to the decisive vote, she claimed the
Senate was a buzz of activity. Money changed hands. Senator
Jubril Aminu from Adamawa State, VP Atiku's home state, tried
to change her mind. Aminu told her Obasanjo had promised him
the Vice Presidency in 2007. Senator Danjuma recounted
telling Aminu that he was the fourth Senator who had come to
her claiming Obasanjo had promised them Atiku's seat.
OBASANJO'S ALLIES SHRINK AWAY, PDP IN DISARRAY
5. (C) The third-term campaign had caused a rupture in
Obasanjo's camp. Many Obasanjo insiders did not believe in
it and only went through the motions of supporting it. Tony
Anenih of Edo State, Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees
and another longtime Obasanjo man, told the Senator he had no
choice but to publicly support the President. However, he
opposed the third term gambit and did not try to muscle and
intimidate people with his usual alacrity.
6. (C) Mrs. Danjuma said the PDP has also been split and
weakened. People have lost the fear they had of Obasanjo,
and now you will start to see their true allegiances, not the
ones they feigned. If Obasanjo seeks vengeance for his
defeat, he will chase people out of the party in droves, she
predicted. Unless he allows the party nomination to go to a
northern candidate, the PDP will break apart, the Senator
7. (C) While some Senators have tried to paint this as a
victory for democracy and begin to extol the virtues of the
National Assembly, Senator Danjuma was candid in portraying
this as a play between competing power blocs. Now, the
President is reeling from his misadventure, and his room for
maneuvering is severely abbreviated. If Danjuma is right,
Obasanjo could be on the verge of unintentionally presiding
over the demise of the party he once boasted was the largest
in Africa. With her stature rising because of her public
opposition to Obasanjo, Danjuma will probably have more
influence than before in the South-South caucus. Moreover,
her position that Obasanjo now cannot unilaterally anoint a
successor is probably representative of South-South thought.
However, her belief that the Presidency should rotate to the
North is not representative of South-South thought. It
likely has more to do with the influence of her husband who
is from the Middle Belt section of the North. End comment.