Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ABUJA2295
2007-10-29 15:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: HOUSE SHENANIGANS CONTINUE

Tags:  PGOV KDEM NI 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2067
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2295/01 3021510
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291510Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1319
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8170
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002295 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2017
TAGS: PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: HOUSE SHENANIGANS CONTINUE

REF: A. ABUJA 2200


B. ABUJA 2096

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Lisa Piascik for reasons 1.4. (b & d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002295

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2017
TAGS: PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: HOUSE SHENANIGANS CONTINUE

REF: A. ABUJA 2200


B. ABUJA 2096

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Lisa Piascik for reasons 1.4. (b & d).


1. SUMMARY: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia
Etteh (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP - Osun State) continues
her battle to remain in control of the House, despite the
ongoing scandal over contract awards for the renovation of
her and her deputy's official residences. Etteh is accused
by those calling for her removal of sabotaging meetings and
simply ignoring the Idoko Panel investigative report into the
allegations (Ref B). Etteh agreed on October 25 to step
aside, but only if she can personally chose the person who
will preside over the Idoko report. Those who oppose Etteh,
both from within the majority PDP and without, contend that
her selection of the person to preside over discussion of the
Idoko report is no better than her continuing to preside.
President Yar'Adua called a surprise meeting with the
leadership of both the House and the Senate on October 26.
While he continues publicly to refuse to interfere in the
chaos in the House, citing separation of powers concerns, he
is widely reported to have urged the leadership to resolve
the situation quickly. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) Despite initial press reports that Etteh agreed to
step aside for the House discussions of the Idoko panel
report, it was later learned that she conditioned any
agreement to do this to her being able to select an interim
Chairman to preside over the discussions in the House. Those
who oppose Etteh (a substantial group drawn both from within
the PDP and opposition parties) are calling instead for the
election of a Speaker Pro Tempore to preside. Congressman
Ternu Tsegba (PDP - Benue State) (protect) told PolOff that
if the Speaker does not step aside unconditionally when the
House reconvenes October 30, opposition members will not let
her preside at all - which could lead to another day of
deadlock. Tsegba also told PolOff that, in a further attempt
to make the issue disappear, he believes Etteh may not
include the investigation on the schedule when the House
reconvenes. However, Tsegba said he and his colleagues are
working on a petition to have Etteh impeached, and he
believes they will soon have enough signatures to succeed.
Tsegba said they currently have 212 of the 240 signatures

SIPDIS
needed to force the speaker out.


3. (C) To add to the ongoing frustration and confusion in the
House, when anti-Etteh congress members from both the PDP and
All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) attempted to hold caucus
meetings on October 24, they arrived to find all the hearing
rooms locked. The Sergeant-At-Arms informed them that they
needed to apply for use of the rooms, which was news to even
senior members of the House. The members believe this was a
deliberate attempt by Etteh's supporters to stop them from
strategizing against the Speaker.


4. (C) President Umaru Yar'Adua summoned the leadership of
both the House of Representatives and Senate to a meeting on
Friday, October 26, generating speculation that Yar'Adua was
finally going to step in to end the crisis. While the
President reportedly encouraged the leaders to find a
resolution, he continues to stand by statements not to
interfere with the operation of the legislative branch; no
statement was issued after the meeting. Tsegba told PolOff
Yar'Adua does not want to take a stand against Etteh because
he does not want to offend former President Obasanjo, who put
Etteh in her position. Tsegba also said that until petitions
before the electoral tribunal against Yar'Adua's own election
as president are concluded and his power legitimized, he will
continue to be reluctant to take such decisive action.


5. (C) COMMENT: The opposition to Etteh remains hopeful that
she will step aside soon and allow the House to return to
business (FYI: such basic functions as the introduction of
the budget have been delayed. End FYI.) However, both sides
have vowed to stand their ground, and if Etteh intends to
preside on Tuesday as if nothing is wrong or to appoint her
own pro-tempore replacement, the likely result will be
additional chaos and a House that remains paralyzed.
Yar'Adua's restraint in becoming involved, whether motivated
by uncertainty over his own position or by a genuine
commitment to the separation of powers, has allowed this

ABUJA 00002295 002 OF 002


situation to drag on. Under the previous regime, former
President Obasanjo routinely bullied the legislature into
doing his bidding. Without this heavy-handed direction from
above, many House members are just learning how to act on
their own. END COMMENT.
PIASCIK