Viewing cable 03ABUJA1285

03ABUJA12852003-07-29 14:37:00 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.

291437Z Jul 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001285 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2013 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter.  Reasons:  1.5 (B 
& D). 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  Poloff met General Muhammadu Buhari, 
ANPP presidential candidate, to discuss his assessment of 
Nigeria and his future plans.  Buhari commented that he had 
no faith in Obasanjo because the "four failed years has 
only emboldened him."  Buhari criticized the electoral 
tribunals for lack of fairness and warned that Nigeria's 
relative quiet did not signify acquiescence, but rather it 
was the silence that often comes before something dramatic 
happens.  He asserted that the ongoing arrests of 
opposition activists and the continued shortfalls of 
funding for the military would create more tension and 
uncertainty.  While appearing tired, he did not seem 
frustrated.  Rather, he seemed impatient, as if he was 
merely marking time until a political opening was 
¶2.  (C)  Buhari remains critical of President Obasanjo and 
his government.  He complained about increasing corruption 
and groused that the Administration's privatization efforts 
only transferred national assets into the hands of regime 
insiders.  He alleged that this rising corruption and 
nepotistic privatization were indicative of "Obasanjo's 
legacy of failure."  Commenting that the previous four 
years has only emboldened Obasanjo, Buhari pointed to the 
widespread irregularities of the 2003 elections and the use 
of security services to ensure a "mandate for continuity" 
as Obasanjo's only success.  He said that Obasanjo's style 
of governance continues to alienate people throughout the 
country.  While raising expectations that he would appoint 
a stellar, reformist cabinet, Obasanjo's Ministerial 
selections are a combination of recycled failures and 
nobodies, Buhari remarked.  He predicted that corruption 
and mismanagement will continue unabated, and, if Obasanjo 
lasts a whole term, will culminate in elections in 2007 
"even worse than 2003." 
¶3.  (C)  Buhari stated flatly that the tribunals were a 
waste, but said that he had promised to seek redress 
through the tribunals and would see this pledge through 
because "I am a man of my word."  He said that he only 
committed to go along with the process for appearances 
sake.  Buhari claimed the majority of cases were thrown out 
for "technical" reasons and said "everyone knows" the 
judges were bribed and coerced to maintain the status quo. 
When asked about his prospects, Buhari stated that he 
expected little from the Federal Court of Appeals (which 
sits as the initial Presidential Tribunal), but would 
follow the process through to the Supreme Court.  When 
asked what he expected from highest court, Buhari 
responded, "I know (Chief Justice) Uwais and he will behave 
¶4.  (C)  Buhari lamented Nigeria's continued insecurity, 
claiming "more people have been killed under this regime 
than under Abacha."  He alleged the detention of thousands 
of political activists, saying this was a symptom of 
Obasanjo's intellectual and moral bankruptcy.  He remained 
concerned that the potential for violence is great 
throughout Nigeria.  He claimed that people throughout the 
country are frustrated and angry and are agitating to 
attack the "so-called legitimacy" of this regime.  Buhari 
said that if Obasanjo was aware of the "lengths we are 
going to in ensuring calm," he would be frightened by the 
potential for upheaval."  "Quiet is not acquiescence; the 
tendency is to take the fight to the streets," he averred. 
Buhari was also concerned that the military is demoralized 
and has been woefully underfunded.   As an institution, the 
military has been in a state of decline throughout 
Obasanjo's term and its members are suffering 
disproportionately to the rest of society, Buhari claimed. 
¶5.  (C)  Buhari, far from frustrated, seemed a man who is 
confident that he will continue to play a large role in 
national politics and that it will not exclusively be as an 
opposition figure.  He continues to attract large crowds to 
many places he travels and enjoys the limelight.  While 
keeping his own plans close to his chest, he did appear 
impatient with having to go through the electoral tribunal 
process which he labeled ineffective.  It remains ironic 
that among the former coupists claiming to be born-again 
democrats, Buhari's claims of reform have strengthened and 
he is increasingly viewed by the public as the (self- 
proclaimed) leading political opposition figure and, most 
strongly in the North, a primary defender of democracy and 
electoral fairness.