Viewing cable 03ABUJA717

03ABUJA7172003-04-17 21:05:00 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 03 ABUJA 000717 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2013 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter.  Reason: 1.5(d). 
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: As with the Presidential contest, 
most Northern gubernatorial elections will be fought 
between the two major parties in Nigeria, the ruling 
People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Nigerians 
Peoples Party (ANPP).  Overall, ANPP candidates are 
expected to benefit from the popularity of General 
Muhammadu Buhari in the region.  While some incumbent 
governors (particularly Benue and Plateau) have been 
accused of incompetence, others are facing opposition 
from the local elite and power-brokers.  In some states 
(Borno, Jigawa and Kaduna), intra-party squabbles 
arising from rancorous gubernatorial primaries have 
generated deep divisions within parties that will 
adversely affect candidates at the polls.  Some places 
the incumbent will likely win because the opposition 
parties are weak and disorganized.  A few governors 
(Katsina and Sokoto) are simply popular at the 
grassroots and would be difficult to defeat.  In the 
end, we expect the majority of incumbents to return. 
This is a brief rundown of a few of the key races in 
the North.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (C) Vice President Atiku Abubakar is Adamawa's 
kingpin, and he is very close to the Lamido 
(traditional ruler).  But his coattails may not be as 
long as is commonly assumed.  The VP's popularity in 
some areas of this state is low.  Incumbent governor 
Boni Haruna is not well liked and is running against a 
popular ANPP Candidate, Adamu Moddibo.  Bala Takaya, a 
political science professor and established politician, 
is flying the AD flag.  Takaya is popular with 
Christians and intellectuals.  Many believe he won the 
election in 1999 but was wrongfully denied victory by 
vote tampering.  Takaya comes from the same senatorial 
district as the governor;  thus, they will split that 
area, which will benefit Modibbo (the only Muslim among 
the three in a state that is probably more than half 
Muslim).  This should be a close race.  An easy victory 
by Haruna would quickly precipitate cries of electoral 
fraud and violence. 
¶3. (SBU) Incumbent governor Adamu Mu'azu (PDP) has been 
an able administrator; he also is popular throughout 
the state.  However, this race will not be a push-over. 
The ANPP had a strong presence in the State and some 
observers believe the party has an edge over the PDP. 
Buhari's coat tails will help the ANPP.  However, 
Mu'azu's incumbency advantage and the PDP's 
determination to win suggest the governor will return. 
¶4. (C) Benue is the home of the Tiv, the largest ethnic 
group in the Middle Belt.  Governor George Akume (PDP) 
has many problems with which to contend. Akume's 
inability to bring many development projects to his 
state has fueled accusations of incompetence.  His 
kinsmen have questioned his relationship with President 
Obasanjo, whom they blame for the October 2001 Zaki- 
Biam massacre. Akume faces an enemy in his former 
mentor, the notoriously corrupt former PDP Chairman 
Chief Barnabas Gemade, who supported Akume financially 
in 1999. Gemade and Akume parted ways when Akume 
supported Obasanjo at this year's PDP convention.  In 
spite of these problems, Akume might win if he gets the 
support of the Idoma.  The Idoma are the second largest 
ethnic group in the State and control one of three 
senatorial zones.  PDP National Chairman Audu Ogbeh is 
Idoma, and observers expect Idomas to vote PDP.  If 
Akume can win the Idoma bloc vote, he will have the 
inside track on his two major opponents, Paul Unongo 
(ANPP) and Mike Mku (UNPP); both of Akume's opponents 
are Tiv, and they will likely split the Tiv vote. 
¶5. (C) Incumbent governor Mala Kachalla is running on 
the AD ticket after losing the ANPP primary to Senator 
Ali Sheriff, his former financier.  Sheriff has 
invested a great deal of time, energy and resources in 
building a political machine in the State and should 
win a close race.  Kachalla still has the support of 
the political elite, but is disliked by civil servants 
in the state.  PDP Candidate Kashim Ibrahim Imam, a 
well-regarded PDP operative, is likely to come in 
third; Borno is not a must-win state for the ruling 
¶6. (C) Kaduna is the historic political center of the 
North.  Many influential Northern politicians, 
businessmen, military and civil servants have 
residences in Kaduna city.  Today, Kaduna state is 
almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. 
The current contest is between incumbent governor Ahmed 
Mohammed Makarfi (PDP) and his former Finance 
Commissioner, Suleiman Hunkuyi (ANPP).  It will be 
close.  The ANPP is very strong in the State, and 
Buhari's coattails are long.  Makarfi's performance has 
been good and efforts to quell ethnic unrest in the 
state may help him retain his job.  He may be the 
choice of mostly-Christian Southern Kaduna, where his 
creation of first-class chieftancies for local 
traditional rulers gained him support there but 
temporarily put him at odds with the influential Zaria 
Emirate.  Makarfi's move to reconcile with his former 
adversary, Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zazzau (Zaria), and 
other senior PDP figures has greatly enhanced his 
chances of winning.  However, Makarfi will have to 
contend with the strong opposition to Obasanjo in the 
northern Kaduna, Makarfi's home turf. 
¶7. (C) With over four million registered voters, Kano 
is the most populous state in the region, and its 
capital city is the commercial center of the North.  In 
1999, PDP won the governorship race and most of the 
Assembly seats.  A firm Obasanjo ally, Governor Rabiu 
Musa Kwankwaso has had problems with most of the 
political heavyweights in the state, including Speaker 
of the House Ghali Na'abba (who just lost his 
reelection bid in part due to Kwankwaso's opposition). 
Minister of Labor Musa Gwadabe and former Governor 
Abubakar Rimi also dislike Kwankwaso.  Many locals are 
angry with the governor for not backing Rimi's quixotic 
bid for the PDP Presidential nomination.  Obasanjo's 
popularity in Kano is very low because of failures to 
address social and economic problems; many industries 
have closed and thousands of workers have been laid- 
off.  Both the city and the state benefited during the 
years of Abacha's rule, as the deceased dictator called 
Kano home. This anti-Obasanjo sentiment will hurt the 
Governor in Kano city. 
¶8. (C)  Kwankwaso is stronger in the rural areas, but 
his support for Obasanjo will cost him some votes there 
as well.  Finally, although the steam is slowly 
escaping from the political Sharia boiler, its 
advocates retain their influence and continue to 
smolder over Kwankwaso's lukewarm endorsement of their 
movement.  These factors, coupled with Buhari's 
coattails working for the ANPP mean that the incumbent 
would lose a fair race, even though the ANPP was long 
bitterly divided over its gubernatorial candidate.  The 
deciding factor is whether the race indeed will be 
fair.  It probably will not be.  To rebuild the PDP in 
the North after the election, Obasanjo and the PDP will 
have to demonstrate that they can return favors to 
their strong supporters (like Kwankwaso). 
¶9. (C) Katsina is the home of General Buhari.  He will 
push hard to make sure his party wins.  Governor Umaru 
Yar'Adua (PDP) is respected and has performed well. 
However, Obasanjo and the PDP are unpopular 
(notwithstanding INEC vote counts from the April 12 
elections that might suggest otherwise), and Buhari 
(son of the soil) is the overwhelming choice.  Were the 
Presidential race not part of election day, the well- 
regarded Yar'Adua would probably be able to overcome 
the PDP's Obasanjo handicap easily.  Even with the 
Buhari factor working against him, he has the GON and 
the national PDP pulling levers for him.  He should 
pull off a squeaker over the ANPP's Nura Khalil. 
¶10. (C) A week ago, we would not have wanted to call 
this race; it was just too close.  Both principal 
candidates had strong negatives, lots of money and 
hundreds of thugs.  But with the PDP's April 12 
performance in the state, an ANPP victory seems less 
likely now unless the AD candidate should (improbably) 
withdraw in favor of Governor Mohammed Lawal or Lawal 
should (and this is more likely) resort to widespread 
intimidation of voters in Kwara Central, the power base 
of his enemy, wealthy banker and former Presidential 
aspirant Dr. Olusola Saraki.  Saraki's son is running 
for Governor, and his daughter recently claimed the 
Senate seat for Kwara Central. 
¶11. (C) Incumbent governor Joshua Dariye (PDP) is 
embattled.  He has performed poorly and is a divisive 
political figure in a divided state.  He has poured 
salt into Plateau's ethnic and religious wounds instead 
of salving them.  Dariye faces strong opposition from 
every direction.  Civil servants who have not been paid 
salaries for months have vowed to resist his comeback 
bid and are supporting the AD's Damishi Sango, former 
Minister of Sports.  Sango is supported by Solomon Lar. 
Lar, a corrupt former PDP Chairman, is perhaps the most 
influential politician in the state.  Plateau, 
particularly Langtang, is the home of many retired 
generals who are publicly active.  They support the 
ANPP Candidate, General Jang. 
¶12. (C) Sokoto is the spiritual capital of the Northern 
Muslim community; it is the seat of the famous Sokoto 
Caliphate.  By all accounts, Sokoto will be retained by 
the ANPP.  Governor Attahiru Bafarawa may be almost 
incoherent when he speaks the English language, but he 
is politically comfortable and his opponent is weak. 
Bafarawa is widely seen as an "IBB Boy" in a state 
where the former military ruler remains popular. 
During the introduction of Shari'a, the Governor 
maintained a cordial relationship with the minority 
Christian community.  Bafarawa was the first northern 
governor that openly criticized the Obasanjo 
Administration for discriminating against the North. 
Obasanjo's opponents in the North applauded this speech 
and Bafarawa instantly became a northern hero.