|Wikileaks:||View 02ABUJA366 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL MASS SENV PHUM PREF NI|
|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 02 ABUJA 000366 SIPDIS AF/W FOR BOOTH AF/RA FOR BITTRICK NSC FOR FRAZER OSD FOR TIDLER E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012 TAGS: PREL, MASS, SENV, PHUM, PREF, NI SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PRESIDENT OBASANJO - SPECIAL APPEAL TO PRESIDENT BUSH REF: A. LAGOS 188 B. LAGOS 189 C. LAGOS 227 D. ABUJA 301 E. ABUJA 304 F. ABUJA 325 G. STATE 19427 H. STATE 20922 I. STATE 18807 Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b/d). 1. (C) President Obasanjo convoked Ambassador Jeter (accompanied by DATT and PolMilOff) on February 4 and stated, "Howard, we need help." Explaining that he did not initially realize the extent of the destruction caused by the explosion at the Ikeja ammunition depot, the President said he was making a special appeal to President Bush for assistance. 2. (C) The DATT explained that the joint EUCOM, UK, UN, Nigerian Army EOD assessment team believed that clean-up of unexploded ordnance would take two EOD companies six months to one year, and that the affected areas of Ikeja and Maryland would have to be isolated. Obasanjo noted that, while the British would help, they would only supplement American efforts. 3. (C) Ambassador Jeter explained that with the present pace of U.S. military operations, it was unclear to what extent we could help, beyond the USD 25,000 in emergency disaster funds. We were also looking to provide some remaining Operation Focus Relief supplies, if possible. Noting that efforts thus far were appreciated, Obasanjo said he would also make the request to President Bush in writing. He then dictated some phrases to his assistant, including, "Thank you for the condolences...I am asking for special assistance...we do not have the technical capacity to deal with this disaster and need assistance...we need a strong team for a considerable amount of time." ======= COMMENT ======= 4. (C) The situation in Ikeja is much worse than President Obasanjo first believed, and he now clearly realizes why his initial reactions were seen as unfeeling. Bombs continue to cook-off with attendant injuries and deaths. As more citizens slip back into the affected areas, we can expect to see additional injuries and deaths. 5. (C) The Nigerian military, though initially claiming to have an EOD capability, does not. Soldiers and police have exacerbated the danger while attempting to clean up by stacking unexploded ordnance, including leaking phosphorus rounds. Without sufficient assistance, the situation in Ikeja and its environs will grow even more dangerous, and the humanitarian, environmental and political fall-out will be severe. 6. (C) There is no doubt that the humanitarian needs are great and that we could see a substantial loss of life if something is not done quickly to clean up the ordnance spread over a heavily populated area comprising between 50 and 200 square kilometers. More deaths will almost certainly lead to political instability in Lagos, including within the Nigerian army. 7. (C) The British High Commissioner has told us that HMG will help but does not have large numbers of specialists to commit to this task. 8. (C) Nigeria has a clear perception of a special relationship with the United States, and made strong statements of support for the U.S. after 9-11. Moreover, Nigeria has had a consistent policy of opposition to terrorism, including early support for our engagement in Afghanistan. We hope that we can be responsive to Obasanjo's appeal, which in this time of dire need, will symbolize for many the litmus test of our bilateral relationship. Jeter
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