C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 000403
CAIRO POL FOR MAXSTADT
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2013
TAGS: MASS PREL PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BATAGARAWA ON MPRI; C-130 SPARE PARTS
FUNDING AND ELECTION PREPARATIONS
REF: 02 ABUJA 3156
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER FOR REASONS 1.5
(B) AND (D).
Â¶1. (C) SUMMARY: During a February 20 meeting with
Ambassador Jeter, Minister of State for Defense (Army)
Lawal Batagarawa promised to discuss funding problems for
MPRI and the shipment of U.S. donated C-130 spare parts
with Minister of Finance Adamu Ciroma. Turning to the
upcoming elections, Batagarawa said the military would be
ready to help the Nigerian National Police (NNP) in
maintaining order, but it would not take action unless the
NNP requested assistance. Batagarawa also said that if
necessary, the military would provide logistical assistance
to the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC).
Finally, Ambassador expressed his concern that possible
U.S. military action in Iraq could lead to potentially
violent anti-American demonstrations. END SUMMARY.
Â¶2. (C) During a February 20 meeting with Ambassador Jeter,
Minister of State for Defense (Army) Lawal Batagarawa
promised to look into problems of obtaining GON funding for
MPRI (REFTEL) and the shipment of U.S. donated C-130 spare
parts. Batagarawa said he would raise both issues with
Minister of Finance Adamu Ciroma on Friday, February 21 and
promised to update the Embassy on Monday, February 24.
(COMMENT: As of Tuesday, February 25, Post has not been
contacted by Batagarawa's office and ODC Abuja attempts to
elicit the information from the MOD's Office of Joint
Services have been unsuccessful. Ambassador plans to
initiate a call to Batagarawa within the next few days. END
Â¶3. (C) While Batagarawa said he was "embarrassed" by the
GON's inability to honor its commitments to these programs,
he expressed sympathy for Ciroma. He noted that the
Minister of Finance is under tremendous pressure to release
funds at a time when cash flows into government coffers are
"extraordinarily poor". Nevertheless, Batagarawa said he
would work to resolve the issue before the end of March.
Â¶4. (C) Ambassador asked Batagarawa what the military was
doing to prepare for the April elections. The Minister
said internal security was the responsibility of the NNP,
however, the military would be prepared to lend assistance
if the police requested it. Batagarawa also said the
military was prepared to assist INEC in transporting
election materials throughout the country, if required.
Â¶5. (C) Finally, Ambassador expressed his concern that
possible U.S. military action against Iraq could lead to
potentially violent anti-American demonstrations in Abuja
and elsewhere in Nigeria. When asked how intense he
thought such protests might be, Batagarawa declined to
"speculate" and said he wanted more time to think about the
issue before making a statement. (COMMENT: We plan to
follow-up with Batagarawa and other senior GON officials on
this issue. END COMMENT.)
Â¶6. (C) Ambassador discussed MPRI funding with President
Obasanjo in November (REFTEL) and, like the problems
surrounding the shipment of the C-130 spare parts, he has
raised the issue with Batagarawa on multiple occasions.
Despite promises from all levels of the GON to resolve
these issues, little progress has been made thus far.
While there is some hope the GON will eventually make good
on its financial commitments to MPRI and take advantage of
the donated C-130 parts (The Ambassador raised the C-130
spare parts issue on February 24 with President Obasanjo's
Permanent Secretary, who might be able to produce
results.), it is unlikely the GON will do anything until
after the distraction of the upcoming elections has receded
into the past.
Â¶7. (C) It is unlikely the NNP will be able to contain any
serious outbreaks of violence without the support of the
military. Batagarawa's comments reflect both the hope
within the military that it will not be needed to maintain
order and the recognition that if electoral and communal
violence escalate during the run-up to elections the
military is the only dependable guarantor of peace in
Nigeria. END COMMENT.