|08LAGOS11||2008-01-10 16:29:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Consulate Lagos|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000011
1. (SBU) Summary: The Chairman of the Niger Delta
Development Commission (NDDC) told the Consul General on
January 3 that under President Yar'Adua the NDDC has begun to
receive funding, a notable switch from President Obasanjo's
days. The NDDC Master Plan is scheduled to develop the Niger
Delta in 15 years with over USD 50 billion; however, three
years into the Plan the Chairman could offer few successes.
The Chairman would like the NDDC to tackle HIV/AIDS and
unemployment and improve agriculture, industry and
microfinance. End Summary.
Niger Delta Master Plan "Uncovered"
2. (U) Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission
(NDDC), Ambassador Sam Edem, met the Consul General on
January 3 and discussed in general the commission's
accomplishment and the NDDC's Niger Delta Master Plan,
conceived under former President Obasanjo. Edem said the
Master Plan, which draws a 15 year roadmap beginning in 2005
to development in the Niger Delta, was created after
extensive consultation with all levels of government,
international oil companies (IOCs), and international bodies.
The plan is divided into three five-year phases and the
budget during this period would total over USD 50 billion.
The Master Plan is meant to harmonize federal, state, and
local government budgets in the nine NDDC states (Ondo, Edo,
Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom, and Cross
River), Edem said. (Note: Ambassador Edem joined the NDDC in
2005. Despite the Commission's eight years of existence,
Edem had few achievements to share with us. End Note.)
Yar'Adua Provides More Consistent Funding
3. (SBU) The NDDC was created in 2000 under President
Obasanjo and took approximately one year to become
operational, according to Edem. While the NDDC is supposed
to receive 15 percent of all GON oil revenue and 3 percent of
the IOCs' annual budgets, Edem said this was in principle,
not reality and that it is difficult to say how much was
really received in the commission's coffers. (Note:
According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative (NEITI) financial audit, the NDDC received over
USD 360 million from IOCs between 2001 and 2004. End Note.)
4. (SBU) However, government /additional funding has begun
to flow to the NDDC under President Yar'Adua and is being
split between state and regional needs. (Comment: The NDDC
has been referred to as a "political incubator" by political
contacts in the run-up to the elections. While money may
have left the GON and IOCs, its travel to development
projects may have proved more difficult. End Comment.)
NDDC Focus Areas
5. (U) While the Niger Delta Master Plan is an exhaustive
document listing numerous problems and recommendations for
developing the region, Edem mentioned five specific areas the
NDDC would like to pursue:
--HIV/AIDS: The NDDC has few partners in addressing HIV/AIDS;
the Chairman expressed interest in partnering with the United
LAGOS 00000011 002 OF 002
States on this issue.
--Unemployment: The NDDC could provide skills training in the
oil and gas industry. IOC assistance in identifying
employment needs and training course quality/inspection would
be much appreciated, he said.
--Agriculture: There are opportunities in pursuing
agriculture. Nigeria imports USD 1.2 billion a year in rice
from Asia; southern Nigeria has the potential to meet this
need, he claimed.
--Industry: The petrochemical industry could attract
investment, development, and employment to the region.
--Microfinance: Through microfinance indigenes could access
funds for cottage industries and other needs.
6. (U) Edem said the NDDC would be interested in receiving
U.S. assistance for health care delivery, skills training
(through joint-ventures or direct investments) or
scholarships for study in the oil and gas sector outside
Nigeria (he criticized IOC omnibus scholarships for not
focusing on the oil and gas sector).
Security & Infrastructural Challenges
7. (U) Edem said Delta and Akwa Ibom are fairly quiet
despite having kidnappings in the past, but he admitted
Bayelsa and Rivers are a "little more difficult,"
particularly given the recent attacks in Port Harcourt
(reftel). He also admitted poor infrastructure is a major
challenge to development in the Niger Delta, as is the short
dry season (four to five months a year) for building roads
and bridges. However, Edem commented the lack of oversight
on the spending of the 13 percent derivation by governors is
perhaps the largest challenge to infrastructural development
in the region.
8. (SBU) Comment: The NDDC has a reputation for not
delivering on its mandate. It also shows a disturbing lack
of transparency. While the relatively new Master Plan offers
a new direction for the commission, it remains to be seen
whether it will receive the funding and oversight it needs.
9. (U) The cable was cleared by Embassy Abuja.