Viewing cable 02ABUJA2729

02ABUJA27292002-09-24 08:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002729 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2012 
REF: ABUJA 2665 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  On August 31, CODEL Daschle met Senate 
President Anyim, Deputy House Speaker Nwuche, and other 
members of the National Assembly Leadership. Discussions 
touched on democracy and rule of law in Nigeria, trade 
relations and expanding Nigeria's economy, natural gas 
production issues, Executive-Legislative branch disputes 
and the campaign against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Some of the 
Nigerian legislators were curious about the inner workings 
of a more established democratic system and how they could 
adapt these lessons. However, while they voiced many of the 
right platitudes, the Nigerian lawmakers did not appear 
well-versed on key public policy issues; they seemed more 
interested in safeguarding their powers and privileges than 
in improving the performance of their Chambers.  END 
¶2.  (C)  Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim and Deputy House 
Speaker Prince Chibudom Nwuche welcomed Senators Daschle 
(D-SD), Reid (D-NV), Nighthorse-Campbell (R-CO) and 
Bingaman (D-NM) to the Senate Chambers  during the Codel's 
visit on August 31.  Ambassador Jeter, Codel staff members 
and other Embassy and USAID staff were also in attendance. 
Opening the session, Anyim welcomed the Codel, highlighting 
the improvement in US-Nigerian relations over recent years. 
Daschle commented that making Nigeria the final stop on the 
trip was appropriate, given its importance, both regionally 
and internationally.  The Codel then toured the Senate's 
new information center (a NDI project) and the Senate 
Chambers before returning to Anyim's office for a closed 
session to allow for an exchange of ideas among the 
¶3.  (C) Senator Reid questioned Anyim about the impeachment 
threat against President Obasanjo.  Anyim flippantly 
contended that the stand-off was "merely democracy at work 
and no reason for alarm."  He said the Senate was 
responsible to the people of Nigeria and that "the basic 
tenets of democracy must be allowed to develop and 
function."  He suggested that "electoral issues" were at 
the core of the disagreement between the two branches but 
did not elaborate what those issues were.  The Deputy 
Speaker threw in that "parliaments throughout Africa are 
under assault."  He said he had been warning the Presidency 
and anyone else who cared to listen about the necessity of 
respecting the Constitution and the importance of rule of 
law for the past two years, and believed that other 
improvements would follow from these two foundations. 
¶4.  (C)  When Senator Campbell asked about trade between 
the U.S. and Nigeria, Anyim replied that the security of 
Nigeria was more important.  He worried that the recent 
State Department travel warning on Nigeria was 
"counterproductive to trade."  Nevertheless, he expressed 
his support for diversifying Nigeria's economy and 
lessening reliance on the oil sector, commenting vaguely 
that Nigeria has to "empower the people to expand trade." 
He agreed the fundamental program envisioned in NEPAD was 
sound, but without good governance, NEPAD would fail. 
Daschle seconded Anyim's sentiment, commenting that rule of 
law, free enterprise and democracy were all keys to 
guaranteeing international support for NEPAD.  Daschle told 
the Nigerian lawmakers the USG was committed to increasing 
trade with Africa, as evidenced by AGOA.  The Deputy 
Speaker advised the Senators that Nigeria is aware of the 
importance of transparent governance and commented that 
"what is good for Africa is good for the West." 
¶5.  (C)  Senator Bingaman asked about Nigeria's plans for 
developing its natural gas sector and curbing gas flaring. 
Anyim mentioned that a natural gas and anti-flaring bill 
was currently before the Assembly; without providing 
specifics, he said there had been "progress on it."  Anyim 
noted the growing worldwide consciousness of environmental 
issues and said that Nigeria was no exception to the trend. 
The Deputy Speaker erroneously commented that AGIP was the 
only company working to curtail flaring.  "The U.S. 
companies are not pushing for a solution," he averred.  He 
offered that the pending legislation would require new 
exploration to re-inject the gas at the wellhead in order 
to capture more crude oil while eliminating the flaring. 
(Comment: The Deputy Speaker was wrong about the American 
companies. He probably did not care about the veracity of 
his statement -- because he likely said it for effect. 
Later that day, Senator Bingaman met with American oil 
company executives who summarized for him their plans to 
end gas flaring.  They also told him that there would not 
be any gas flaring at any of their newly developed wells 
(reftel). End Comment) 
¶6.  (C) Anyim asked the CODEL how the Nigerian Legislature 
should deal with a President who refused to spend funds as 
budgeted by Legislators.  Daschle responded, "Welcome to 
democracy."  He reminded the legislators of the crisis that 
shut down the USG several years ago and mentioned President 
Bush's refusal to spend $5.5 billion recently budgeted by 
Congress.  He pointed out that the two most contentious 
issues for a democracy were budgets and war.  Advising the 
Nigerian legislators to negotiate with the President rather 
than fight him, Daschle stressed that "the institutions are 
more important than the little fights."  Nighthorse- 
Campbell added that the real authority is with the people 
and "when they call you should listen." 
¶7.  (C)  The Nigerians asked about USG support for HIV/AIDS 
prevention and treatment programs, commenting that the U.S. 
had not provided adequate funding in this area.  Daschle 
said that the USG recognizes its responsibility, expressing 
his opinion that the $500 million in recent U.S. budgets 
was still insufficient and that support for expanding these 
programs was growing in the U.S. Senate. 
¶8.  (C) COMMENT: The atmosphere during the meeting was 
collegial. The Nigerians appeared eager to hear Codel 
Daschle's experiences in reconciling the competing 
interests of the Executive and Legislative branches.  While 
this interest indicates some Nigerian politicians' efforts 
to chart a course in Nigeria's new democratic environment, 
the focus and tone of the Nigerians' questions show that, 
for now, political bickering over the balance of power 
between the Presidency and the National Assembly remained 
the preferred course of action.