C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002984
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2011
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS SF NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LOCAL MEDIA REPORTS - NIGERIA AND SOUTH
AFRICA TO SIGN MILTARY PACT
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (d).
Â¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Press reporting from "The Guardian" newspaper
on November 21, repeated in para 2, indicates that Nigeria
and South Africa will sign a military pact. The pact
apparently will focus on naval cooperation, primarily
training, maintenance and joint exercises, and joint patrol
of the South Atlantic. It is somewhat ironic that Nigerian
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Samuel Afolayan, used a
comparison with South Africa's smaller navy to argue for
additional resources for Nigeria's navy, which is seriously
overstaffed but has no operational, ocean-going vessels. END
Â¶2. (U) Begin article text:
"Nigeria, South Africa to sign military pact"
NIGERIA and South Africa will soon sign a military pact that
will streamline the areas of co-operation between their armed
forces. The Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi
who disclosed this when the Chief of South African Navy, Vice
Admiral John Relief visited him in Abuja, said some aspects
of the program were being implemented.
Already, a Nigerian Lieutenant Colonel is a member of the
Directing Staff at the South African Command and Staff
College. Also, Nigeria is to start the exchange of cadets
with the South African Defense Academy.
Vice Admiral Relief in explaining the scope of the
relationship between the two countries stated that "what is
important is that between Nigeria and South Africa, we have
the best Navies in Africa. The first level of co-operation
is in the area of training. Second is the repairing of
warships and the conduct of joint exercises between both
countries. We both support the new African Initiative and
Millennium plan. We have ability to build relations
Both Nigeria and South Africa, according to Relief, are
desirous of providing security in the South Atlantic.
According to him: "The South Atlantic is a very important sea
route to South Africa. We share the coast with Namibia and
Angola. It is being mined for diamonds and natural gas.
There are lots of natural resources that will tempt people
there. A strong Navy will guarantee the safety of the areas.
Currently, there is no threat, but that doesn't mean that in
the unsure world we are, things might not change."
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan who in
October visited South Africa, said the international
community attached great importance to the security of the
South Atlantic and the co-operation between Nigeria and South
African Navies. Said he: "It is a good expectation that
after my visit to South Africa, I followed it up with a visit
to the United States and the safety of the South Atlantic was
what we discussed. They were delighted that we are concerned
with the geo-political consideration of the zone. They are
eager to note and see such developments going on in the
Afolayan advocated increased funding and re-equipping of the
Nigerian Navy to meet up with the challenges of the new
He stated: "With the South African Navy that is small,
compact and efficient, we see the need for the Nigerian Navy
to be better equipped than what it is now. They have
capabilities yet to be possessed by the Nigerian Navy. We
will get those capabilities if we are re-equipped."
The South African Navy has about 5,500 uniformed personnel
and 2000 civilians. It has two naval bases, a dockyard, nine
combat craft, three sub-marines, six minesweepers and four
Â¶3. (C) COMMENT: Bilateral military cooperation between
Nigeria and South Africa is likely to be beneficial to
Nigeria, and to U.S. goals for Nigeria's military. At times,
African states accept notions of military reform more readily
from another African State rather than the West. It is
somewhat ironic (but unfortunately normal), however, that
Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Samuel Afolayan,
used the South African visit as an opportunity to argue for
additional resources for Nigeria's Navy, rather than using
the visit as an opportunity to advocate for a more
streamlined Service. The Naval Service is top-heavy and
personnel-laden (19 Admirals and 34 Commodores and less than
10,000 men) but has no operational ocean-going vessels.
Â¶4. (C) The Nigerian Navy tends to think big, voicing a need
for submarines and aircraft carriers to the DATT. However,
its capabilities are small. A Nigerian Navy without
fundamental defense reform is not likely to achieve anything
beyond coastal patrol, and that achievement is likely only
because the U.S. is providing the wherewithal (Balsam-class
180' patrol vessels). END COMMENT.