US embassy cable - 01ABUJA871


Identifier: 01ABUJA871
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA871 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-04-25 14:37:00
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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 000871 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2006 
(B) AND (D). 
REF: ABUJA 0501 
1. (U)  Summary:  Ambassador Jeter paid his first official 
visit to Kaduna State on March 27 and 28.  He met with 
Kaduna Governor Ahmed Makarfi, the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji 
Shehu Idris, former Military Head of State General 
Muhammadu Buhari, Northern kingmaker Dr. Liman Ciroma and 
leaders in Muslim-Christian inter-faith dialogue efforts. 
Governor Makarfi focused on his plans for economic 
expansion in agriculture and solid-minerals development. 
He described his close scrutiny over all government 
contracts, which he claimed to annul or modify where there 
appears to be collusion or kickbacks.  Makarfi said that 
this scrutiny allowed him to provide an unprecedented level 
of infrastructure development and new government services 
while maintaining a balanced budget--one of the benefits of 
an effective anti-corruption campaign.  The Ambassador's 
meeting with the Emir of Zazzau was largely protocolary. 
His meetings with Kaduna's retired generals will be 
addressed in septel. 
2. (U)  During his first official visit to Kaduna State, 
Ambassador Jeter was guest of honor at a State Dinner 
hosted by Governor Makarfi on March 27.  During lengthy 
private meetings on March 27 and 28, the Ambassador 
congratulated Governor Makarfi on the work he had done 
since the unrest last February to return Kaduna to 
normalcy.  Makarfi provided an overview of developments in 
Kaduna, and discussed his efforts to rebuild parts of the 
city destroyed in last year's rioting, as well as to 
rebuild trust between the various ethnic groups in the 
State (Reftel).  He described the tripartite legal system-- 
criminal Shari'a and customary courts limited to minor 
offenses, and common law criminal courts for more serious 
offenses.  He said that the choice between Shari'a, 
customary or common law courts will be at the defendants' 
discretion, adding that the civil jurisdiction of Shari'a 
courts over Muslims is mandatory--and has been in the North 
since before the colonial era.  Makarfi said that the 
common law justice system had broken down, especially for 
the poor, who lack access and resources to properly defend 
themselves, or to enforce their rights.  (Note: By most 
accounts, the Shari'a court system throughout the North is 
itself dysfunctional.  End Note.)  The Ambassador asked 
whether a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of 
criminal Shari'a would help at this point.  Makarfi said 
that such a ruling would have been helpful initially, but 
that now the issue has "settled down." 
Infrastructure and Economic Development 
3. (U)  Makarfi began by indicating an interest in 
concluding a sister city arrangement with an appropriately 
sized and diverse U.S. city.  He then discussed his 
budgetary priorities, and described his successes in rural 
electrification, provision of potable water and road- 
building.  (Comment:  Post can confirm that this is not 
mere rhetoric, but that a substantial portion of Kaduna's 
budget is in fact being used to establish and expand 
infrastructure throughout the State.  End Comment.) 
Makarfi said that he was focusing on solid minerals 
exploitation and expanding development in the agricultural 
sector.  He commented that the agricultural sector had the 
greatest direct impact on average Nigerians, but said that 
the federal government had neglected to invest in 
transportation infrastructure and market development that 
would permit large-scale agricultural exports. 
4. (U)  Makarfi said that one of his biggest projects was 
to create a "massive" irrigation system that would permit 
year-round farming in much of Kaduna State.  He said the 
lack of a functioning rail system, as well as the 
difficulties in clearing goods through customs, inhibited 
the agricultural export sector.  Makarfi stated that he was 
working to create agricultural co-operatives that would be 
able to enter into export agreements with European buyers 
and guarantee supply.  While Makarfi acknowledged that this 
would be a long-term project, he said that agricultural 
development was in fact the most important sector for 
bettering the lives of average Nigerians.  (Note: 
Nigerians not involved in the oil economy live on an 
average of 1 USD per day.  End Note.)  Makarfi also 
mentioned that Kaduna State owns a "state-of-the-art" 
canning facility in Zaria that he wants to privatize as 
part of his effort to revitalize the agricultural sector. 
5. (SBU)  The Governor said that he was particularly 
interested in recruiting U.S. mining companies to look into 
the feasibility of mineral extraction in Kaduna State.  He 
mentioned that Libyan officials had been showing interest, 
but expressed concern that their presence might not be in 
the long-term best interests of the state.  He mentioned 
that there were commercially viable quantities of precious 
and semi-precious metals in Kaduna, and said that Kaduna 
State would not present the same security risks as 
Nigeria's South-South, where the oil industry is based. 
The Ambassador agreed to provide any U.S. Geological Survey 
information to the Governor, and said that he would refer 
the Governor's request to the U.S. Commercial Service. 
6. (C)  Ambassador Jeter noted that many Nigerians appeared 
cynical about what they consider to be an ineffective and 
rapacious Fourth Republic federal government, as well as 
equally incompetent local government authorities.  He added 
that in some states, like Kaduna, Nigerians who were 
cynical about the local and federal governments appeared to 
feel greater allegiance to State governments that were 
actually delivering services to the populous.  The 
Ambassador then asked Makarfi how he managed his budget to 
ensure that State funds were invested rather than 
misappropriated.  In reply, Makarfi said that his 
background was in finance and private banking, having been 
the Commissioner of Finance in Kaduna under the 
administration of military governor Colonel Jafa'ar Isa. 
Makarfi emphasized that he knows how to read a balance 
sheet, and said that he personally reviews and approves all 
contracts let by the Kaduna State government.  He said, "I 
know what it costs to get something done." 
7. (C)  Makarfi said that when President Obasanjo came to 
visit Kaduna State last Autumn, he asked how Makarfi 
managed to get so much accomplished with no more money that 
is given to any other state government.  Makarfi said that 
he told the President that the states have adequate funding 
to accomplish a great deal.  It is managing the money--and 
the contracts it is spent on--that is the challenge. 
Makarfi also commented on the difficulty in monitoring the 
corrupt practices of local governments, which have 
independent budgetary allocations coming from the federal 
government.  He said that early in his tenure as Governor 
he picked the most rapacious among the local government 
chairmen in Kaduna, ordered the police to investigate the 
financial practices of the LGA, and then referred him to 
the State Assembly for removal, which it did.  Makarfi said 
this put the other LGA chairmen on notice that their 
activities would be monitored, and punished for corruption 
and wrongdoing. 
8. (C)  Makarfi added that the National Association of 
Local Governments was "lobbying" the National Assembly to 
pass a bill guaranteeing LGA chairmen a four-year tenure, 
which would prevent their removal by State Assemblies for 
malfeasance.  Makarfi said that nearly 400 million naira 
(3.07 million USD) had been spent in direct payments to 
Assembly members to ensure passage of the bill, which he 
added, would be unconstitutional unless presented in the 
form of a constitutional amendment to remove the oversight 
function of state governments over their LGA's.  (Comment: 
LGA's and State government budgets, when not properly 
administered, represent a substantial drain of GON 
resources into private pockets.  In the FY 2001 budget, 
LGA's will receive 218 billion naira (1.67 billion USD), 20 
percent of the federal budget, and States will receive 262 
billion naira (2 billion USD), or 28 percent of the federal 
budget.  End Comment.) 
9. (C)  Discussing corruption, Makarfi said that he was 
disappointed in the lack of oversight being exercised over 
federal Ministries.  Criticizing some of the current 
Ministers, Makarfi asserted "the President is being mis- 
used by his advisors."  He said, "If the Ministries in 
Abuja simply applied the oversight that I do here in 
Kaduna, a great deal of corruption could be eliminated." 
The Ambassador commented on the fact that Governors had 
become a powerful independent political force in the Fourth 
Republic.  Makarfi agreed that it was a new phenomenon, and 
traced it to the efforts of PDP governors to get President 
Obasanjo elected.  He said that part of the President's 
problem in managing what Makarfi described as a largely 
corrupt and undisciplined Cabinet stems from the fact that 
Obasanjo's Ministers were nominated in repayment of 
political debts and as an attempt to adhere to strict 
"zoning" by geographical region.  Makarfi said that they 
are not themselves electable, and many of them are spending 
a great deal of time, and government money, trying to 
position themselves as potential candidates for Governor in 
their home states.  (Note: State Governors in Nigeria are 
superior to Ministers in official protocol and most 
exercise more effective power than federal Ministers.  End 
10. (C)  Comment:  Governor Makarfi is one of President 
Obasanjo's favorites.  The Governor and his more 
progressive colleagues represent a new development in the 
Nigerian democratic experiment.  To the extent that 
ordinary Nigerians are experiencing a "democracy dividend," 
it appears to derive from effective State governments run 
by executives, like Makarfi, who claim to keep an eye on 
the bottom line.  We are not in a position at this point to 
assess definitively which Governors are in the vanguard of 
good government and which are engaging in business-as-usual 
while claiming to be advocates of good government.  We also 
cannot independently verify Makarfi's assertions of clean 
11. (C)  What we see on the gound, however, indicates that 
a larger amount of Kaduna State money may be going to fund 
projects than into officials' bank accounts.  Makarfi 
described himself as the wealthiest man in Kaduna State at 
the time he was elected, and therefore can afford to be 
clean, as he does not have to make his fortune during his 
tenure as Governor.  As we identify Governors who are 
delivering services to their constituents--and combating 
corruption--it would seem appropriate to support them and 
good governance by targeting some of assistance efforts to 
those states.  End Comment. 

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