Viewing cable 03ABUJA697

03ABUJA6972003-04-16 19:29:00 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.

161929Z Apr 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 000697 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2013 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter.  Reasons:  1.5 (B & 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  The Independent National Electoral 
Commission (INEC) has posted results from about 80 percent 
of the Senate and House races around the country. 
Registering over 50 percent of the vote nationwide, the 
ruling PDP will retain its majority in both chambers unless 
there is a radical reversal in the voting trends.  If this 
election is a forecast of the April 19 Presidential and 
gubernatorial contests, this weekend will affirm the power 
of incumbency in Nigeria.  President Obasanjo and the 
lion's share of Governors will be returned to office. 
However, there is a wide variance between INEC's official 
results and the expectations of many opposition parties, 
particularly the ANPP and AD.  The dissonance is widespread 
and opposition party leaders have been huddling to 
determine next steps.  Accusations of vote tampering and 
manipulating tabulations are growing and many seem 
credible.  By reversing previously announced results in 
some races, INEC has not helped matters and has only added 
to the opposition's suspicions.  The political temperature 
has increased significantly.  The April 19 election will be 
tense and the specter of violence looms too near in many 
places.  Press reports indicate that elections that did not 
hold on April 12 took place variously on April 13, 14 or 15 
in areas of six states in the South-South and Southeast. 
¶2.  (C) Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission 
(INEC) is reporting results in about 80 percent of the 
Senate and House districts around the country.  The ruling 
PDP is almost assured of retaining its majority on both 
sides of the National Assembly with 170 seats in the House 
going to the PDP.  (The PDP needs 181 seats for a 
majority.)  The ANPP has improved its representation, 
winning 80 seats thus far.  The AD is winning 30 seats and 
other parties gaining representation include UNPP (two 
seats), NDP (two), PRP (one), and AGPA (one).  In the 
Senate, the PDP has won 60 of the 109 seats.  The ANPP has 
25 seats and the AD has won just 5 seats.  No other parties 
have yet been awarded a Senate seat.  Unless reporting 
trends reverse significantly, PDP likely will be announced 
as the winner of at least 15 of the remaining 19 seats in 
the upper house, a significant increase in its existing 
majority (68/109). 
¶3.  (U)  Press reports indicate that elections that could 
not hold on April 12 took place variously on April 13, 14 
or 15 in areas of six states in the South-South and 
Southeast -- Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and 
Cross River. 
¶4.  (C)  The "bandwagon effect" is said to be the 
irresistible force in Nigerian electoral politics. 
Consequently, many Nigerians see these results as a preview 
of the gubernatorial and Presidential elections scheduled 
for April 19.  If the legislative returns are indicative of 
this Saturday's likely outcome, the PDP could be expected 
to maintain its current 21 gubernatorial seats and perhaps 
capture a few state capitals in the Southwest.  The results 
from April 12 would indicate that the incumbent PDP 
President Obasanjo could expect to win at least 55 percent 
of the popular vote.  The ANPP would not exceed 30 percent 
of the national vote, with little hope of gaining much 
ground by teaming with any of the other opposition parties, 
except for the AD (which is more likely to stand aloof than 
to join forces with Buhari).  Making Buhari's position even 
bleaker, the ANPP would be unable to meet the 
constitutional requirement for a presidential victor to win 
25 percent of the vote in two-thirds (25) of the 37 state 
jurisdictions (36 states plus the Federal Capital 
Territory).  Thus far, the ANPP is polling less than 25 
percent in 18 states. 
¶5.  (C)  For many races, INEC's returns diverge from the 
expectations of many observers and activists in all the 
parties.  The magnitude of the PDP "landslide" has 
surprised security elements of the government, as well.  A 
senior State Security Service official told PolOff that his 
organization was "studying the results," with concern 
mounting for maintaining public order. 
¶6.  (U)  General Muhammadu Buhari, the ANPP Presidential 
candidate, denounced the election results, calling them a 
"coup against democracy."  Castigating the results as 
"spurious," Buhari said "the rigging and fraud that 
attended the collation of the results of the just concluded 
election is so blatant that 1983 now looks like some child's 
play."  (NOTE:  Buhari knows about coups against a troubled 
democracy.  He took power in a late-1983 coup that ousted an 
unpopular civilian regime widely viewed as corrupt and 
ineffective after it manipulated a "landslide" victory in 
elections earlier that year.  Buhari's allusion to 1983 is 
viewed as ominous by some and by others as ironic.  END 
NOTE.)  Another Presidential candidate, Gani Fawehinmi, 
described the parliamentary election as a "rigging spree." 
Making the same allusion as Buhari, he said, "the same 
scenario as in 1983 is playing out."  ANPP Chairman Don 
Etiebet issued a statement on behalf of 12 of the 14 
political parties participating in these elections (all 
except NCP and PDP) on April 15 rejecting the results. 
While the parties identified many alleged irregularities, 
Etiebet stressed that the parties would not boycott the 
Presidential and gubernatorial elections.  Buhari echoed 
this in a broadcast on BBC Hausa service.  He reiterated his 
warning to be vigilant for fraud, pointing out that he had 
issued the same advice at almost every campaign stop in the 
past few months. 
¶7.  (C)  The INEC results surprised many people and, in 
many instances, are seen to diverge with preliminary 
indications based on field observations of party agents, 
domestic and international monitors and Mission officers. 
Internal discrepancies are found throughout the results 
announced thus far by INEC.  Perhaps the most stunning 
development is the overwhelming PDP victory in the 
Southwest region.  The PDP basically dominated the results 
in a region up to then in the firm grasp of the AD.  While 
the PDP was expected to make some inroads, according to 
both AD and PDP partisans, the margin of PDP victory was 
vast.  One PDP campaigner told PolOff that his expectation, 
based on consultation with his AD counterparts immediately 
after the close of the polls, was that the PDP would pick 
up about six Senate seats and between 8 and 12 House seats. 
"When I woke on Sunday, I was embarrassed and unable to 
explain the turnaround," he said.  A similar assessment was 
provided by an AD campaigner, who thought the PDP would 
gain six Senate and between 6 and ten House seats in the 
¶8.  (C)  The reported 90 percent voters turnout in Rivers 
State (South-South) is also being heavily questioned. 
MissionOffs reported a light turnout in Rivers, ranging 
from 15 to 30 percent of the registered voters. 
MissionOffs also encountered strong support for the ANPP in 
many areas.  However, INEC results show that the PDP won 
roughly 90 percent of this very high turn-out, making for 
an embarrassing rout of the ANPP.  Reported turnout or 
results in Edo State (South-South) and Katsina State 
(Northwest) are also at odds with Emboffs firsthand, albeit 
incomplete, observations.  Agents from both PDP and 
opposition parties highlight results from many other 
locations, including Adamawa, Bauchi and Kaduna States in 
the North and Imo, Enugu and Anambra States in the 
Southeast that did not jibe with their unofficial tallies. 
Other critics comment that awarding some races to one party 
on Sunday and reversing the decision on Monday raises 
questions of the accuracy and efficiency of INEC's 
collation efforts. 
¶9.  (C)  COMMENT:  The April 12 results thus far show the 
PDP to be the big and only real winner.  The ANPP did well 
only in the North and did not gain the ground in the South- 
South and Southeast that they had expected.  The AD was 
rousted from its own house and may have been dealt a mortal 
blow.  The other opposition parties' vote totals were 
little more than crumbs.  In effect, the National Assembly 
vote, if repeated on April 19, would make the PDP the only 
national party, rendering the ANPP a northern party, 
wrecking the AD and marking the other parties as entirely 
inconsequential.  Thus, the cries of foul and cheating must 
be seen from this perspective; the opposition parties are 
fighting for sheer survival.  However, more is at play. 
The allegations of fraud and tampering are multiplying and 
many cannot be dismissed.  Many of these allegations are 
credible and jibe with our own observations.  While our 
observations were more spot-checking than rigorous 
monitoring, it would defy statistical probability to 
suggest that the voting and tabulation trends we observed 
in our sampling in, for example, Rivers and Katsina had 
virtually no external validity.  The opposition parties 
have grounds to be upset and their "rejection" of the 
results was a predictable reaction.  However, they have 
decided not to boycott but to work together to observe more 
stringently the vote tabulation process.  Thus, the April 
19 election will be conducted in an atmosphere of palpable 
suspicion and distrust.  It will make for an uneasy 
Saturday and a tension-filled Easter.  INEC faces its 
biggest trial yet.