US embassy cable - 89KADUNA1532

NIGERIA: THE DYNAMICS OF PARTISAN POLITICS: SCEPTICAL VIEWS ON IBB'S POLITICAL UTOPIA

Identifier: 89KADUNA1532
Wikileaks: View 89KADUNA1532 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Kaduna
Created: 1989-10-19 17:05:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINR NI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P R 191705Z OCT 89
FM AMCONSUL KADUNA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0572
INFO AMEMBASSY LAGOS
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KADUNA 01532 
 
LONDON FOR KOLKER 
 
PARIS FOR FENDRICK 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:OADR 
TAGS:   PGOV, PINR, NI 
SUBJECT:  NIGERIA:  THE DYNAMICS OF PARTISAN POLITICS: 
          SCEPTICAL VIEWS ON IBB'S POLITICAL UTOPIA 
 
REF:  (A) LAGOS 15948  (B) LAGOS 15697 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  DURING A WEEK-LONG TRIP TO BENUE AND GONGOLA 
STATES, CONGEN QUERIED BUSINESSMEN, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, 
FORMER MINISTERS OF GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SERVANTS, AND 
TRADITIONAL TITLEHOLDERS  ABOUT PRESIDENT IBRAHIM 
BABANGIDA'S HISTORIC DECISION TO REGISTER TWO POLITICAL 
PARTIES OF HIS OWN CREATION.  INTERLOCUTORS AGREED THAT, 
WHILE A DEFT SURPRISE, THE DECISION WAS TOO IDEALISTIC, 
I.E., THE NEW POLITICAL STRUCTURES WILL NEVER BE IMMUNE TO 
THE NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT OF TRIBAL, ETHNIC, RELIGIOUS AND 
REGIONAL PARTISANSHIP, THE "MONEYBAGS" AND CORRUPTION. 
SEVERAL COMMENTATORS OPINED THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS NOW 
SHIFTED HIS VISION TO "GUIDED DEMOCRACY" WITH LONG-TERM 
MILITARY SUPERVISION AND A SUSTAINED THREAT OF 
INTERVENTION.  NOTWITHSTANDING SUCH OPINIONS, ALL WILL 
JOIN ONE OF THE TWO NEW PARTIES AND SOME WILL ACTIVELY 
PARTICIPATE IN PARTY AFFAIRS.  REPRESENTATIVE VIEWS FROM 
FOUR INDIVIDUALS ARE PRESENTED.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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BENUE STATE 
----------- 
 
2.  BANNED POLITICIAN PAUL UNONGO, FORMER MINISTER OF 
MINES, POWER AND STEEL IN THE SHAGARI REGIME AND DEFEATED 
NPP CANDIDATE IN THE 1983 BENUE STATE GUBERNATORIAL 
ELECTIONS, HAS BEEN IN THE BACKGROUND OF ORGANIZATIONAL 
EFFORTS IN BENUE STATE OF THE NOW-DISSOLVED PEOPLES 
SOLIDARITY PARTY (PSP).  UNONGO STATED THAT THERE ARE 
THREE THEORIES ABOUT BABANGIDA'S DECISION.  THE 
"CONSPIRACY THEORY" ASSERTS THAT THE PRESIDENT'S INTENTION 
TO REMAIN IN POWER HAS BEEN MANIFESTED CONTINUOUSLY SINCE 
THE 1985 COUP THROUGHSHIS SYSTEMATIC ELIMINATION OF 
OPPONENTS.  THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE ARMED FORCES RULING 
COUNCIL (AE) AND ITS RECONSTITUTION AS A SMALLER GROUP 
AND THE FREQUENT REPLACEMENT OF GOVERNORS ARE CITED AS 
RECENT EVIDENCE.  THEORISTS CLAIM THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT 
OF TWO NEW PARTIES BEHOLDEN Y TO H M IS HIS LATEST 
MANEUVER. 
 
THE "IDEALIST THEORY" POSITS THE OPPOSITE, THAT PRESIDENT 
BABANGIDA IS SINCERE IN HIS DESIREJ BREAK WITH THE PAST 
AND ESTABLISH A FIRM FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE THIRD 
REPUBLIC AND THAT HE BELIEVES HE CAN ACHIEVE THIS GOAL 
THROUGH THE TWO NEW PARTIES.  HIS DECISION REFLECTS HIS 
FRUSTRATION WITH BOTH OLD AND NEW BREED POLITICIANS AND 
HIS DESIRE TO LET THE IGERIAOEOPLE DECIDE FOR 
THEMSELVES.  IN SHORT, HE SHOULD BE TAKEN AT HIS WORD. 
 
LASTLY, THE "THEORY OF GUIDED DEMOCRACY" CENTERS ON THE 
BELIEF THAT BABANGIDA WILL REMAIN IN SOME AS YET 
UNSPECIFIED ROLE, OR PERMIT HIMSELF TO BE DRAFTED AS 
PVSIDENT, TO EXERT MILITARY GUIDANCE, REWARDS AND 
PUNISHMENT OVER THE THIRD REPUBLIC.  HE RECOGNIZES THATHD 
IGERIA IS NOT READY FOR FULL DEMOCRACY AND WILL NEED 
"GUIDANCE" FOR AT LEAST TEN TO TWENTY YEARS, SAY THIS 
THEORY'S PROPONENTS. 
 
3.  UNONGO SUBSCRIBES TO THE LATTER THEORY BUT WOULD NOT 
CONJECTURE HOW BABANGIDA WOULD DO IT.  THIS WILL NOT 
PREVENT THE DEFUNCT PSP FROM JOINING EN MASSE THE NEW 
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SDP), HE SAID.  THE EX-PEOPLE'S 
FRONT OF NIGERIA (PFN) WILL DO SO AS WELL BECAUSE THE PSP 
AND PFN WILL STICK TO THEIR PRE-DECISION DEAL, ENGINEERED 
BY HIMSELF AND ALHAJI SHEHU YAR'ADUA, WHICH SPECIFIED THAT 
THE LOSER AMONG THE TWO WOULD JOIN THE WINNER AFTER 
REGISTRATION.  TOGETHER WITH THE FORMER LIBERAL PARTY (LP) 
THE NEW SDP "WELFARISTS" WILL FACE THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN 
CONVENTION (NRC), THE PARTY OF "PRIMORDIAL CAPITALISTS." 
 
4.  COMMENT:  UNONGO IS A DYNAMIC, YOUTHFUL-APPEARING 
POLITICIAN WHO APPEARS TO ENJOY A LOYAL FOLLOWING AMONG 
THE TIV PEOPLE IN NORTHERN BENUE STATE.  AT A LUNCHEON AT 
HIS RESIDENCE IN GBOKO, STATE-WIDE PSP OPERATIVES 
DEFIANTLY PLEDGED TO ROUND UP THEIR SUPPORTERS TO REGISTER 
SDP AND TO TAKE OVER AT STATE CONVENTIONS, TELLING CONGEN 
THAT THEY WOULD BEAT BAGANGIDA AT HIS OWN GAME.  UNONGO 
BASKED IN THEIR HOMAGE, CLEARLY INTENDING TO CONTINUE HIS 
BEHIND-THE-SCENES ROLE AT THE STATE AND NATIONAL LEVELS. 
END COMMENT. 
 
5.  MR. IYORKOHOL AKURE, THE PRESIDENT OF THE BENUE STATE 
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, INDUSTRY, AGRICULTURE AND MINES, WAS 
HIGHLY CRITICAL OF BABANDIGA'S DECISION.  THE NEC 
GUIDELINES FOR REGISTRATION WERE IMPOSSIBLE, HE STATED, 
WITH THE TIME TOO SHORT, THE DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS 
ONEROUS, THE RANGE TOO BROAD, AND THE COSTS PROHIBITIVE. 
THE TWO NEW PARTIES MIRROR THE DISSOLVED PSP AND NIGERIAN 
NATIONAL CONGRESS (NNC) IN OUTLOOK AND PHILOSOPHY, AND IN 
FREE ELECTIONS WITH ALL 13 POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS 
CONTESTING AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL THEY WOULD HAVE 
PREVAILED, HE MAINTAINED.  WHAT THEN IS THE EFFICACY OF 
THIS DECISION, HE ASKED.  HE CONTINUED THAT IT ONLY SHOWS 
BABANGIDA'S LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE NIGERIA POLITY, 
HIS THEORETICAL AND IMPRACTICAL APPROACH TO POLITICAL 
PROBLEMS, AND ABOVE ALL HIS CONTEMPT FOR NIGERIAN CIVILIAN 
SOCIETY.  THE PRESIDENT IS PREDISPOSED TO BELIEVE IN THE 
SUPERIORITY OF THE MILITARY AGAINST ALL EVIDENCE OF POOR 
JUDGMENT AND SIMPLISTIC THOUGHT, HE OPINED.  IN SUM, THE 
RESULTS OF THE LIFTING OF THE BAN ON POLITICS, THE 
FORMATION OF POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS, AND THE NEC 
VERIFICATION EXERCISE WERE DEGRADING AND DISILLUSIONING. 
 
NEVERTHELESS, AKURE SAID, THE PSP NATIONAL EXECUTIVE 
COMMITTEE IS RESIGNED TO THE NEW REALITY AND WILL ENJOIN 
ITS FOLLOWERS TO REGISTER WITH THE SDP.  ON OCTOBER 2, 
1992 - ONE DAY AFTER THE RETURN TO CIVILIAN RULE - THE SDP 
WILL REWRITE ITS MANIFESTO TO REFLECT PSP VIEWS, RENDERING 
BANBANGIDA'S MOVE A PYRRHIC VICTORY, HE CLAIMED. 
 
6.  COMMENT:  AKURE'S VIEWS, COMING ONE DAY AFTER THE 
PRESIDENT'S ANNOUNCEMENT, WERE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE 
WIDESPREAD INITIAL CONSTERNATION AND DISAPPOINTMENT AMONG 
BENUE STATE PSP ADHERENTS THAT THEIR ASSOCIATION HAD LOST 
OUT.  AS ELSEWHERE THE DECISION WAS SOON VIEWED 
AS JUST ONE MORE CHALLENGE THRUST UPON THEM BY BABANGIDA, 
WHICH WOULD NOT, HOWEVER, ALTER THE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF 
NIGERIAN POLITICS.  END COMMENT. 
 
------------- 
GONGOLA STATE 
------------- 
7.  ALHAJI BAMANGA MUHAMMED TUKUR - ELECTED CIVILIAN 
GOVERNOR OF GONGOLA STATE (1983), FORMER GENERAL MANAGER 
OF THE NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY (1975-82), PROMINENT 
BUSINESSMAN, AND TRADITIONAL TITLEHOLDER  (THE WAKILI 
CHAMBA) - WAS EQUALLY CRITICAL OF THE PRESIDENT'S 
DECISION.  TO HIM, THE NEW TWO PARTY SYSTEM, RATIFIED BY 
THE COERCIVE "POWER-OF-THE-GUN," IS AN ATTEMPT TO IMPOSE 
IDEAS, FEELINGS, AND LOYALTIES IN THE PRACTICE OF 
DEMOCRACY.  HOWEVER, TRUE DEMOCRACY MUST SPRING FROM THE 
PEOPLE, WHICH EVEN THE U.S.S.R. AND EASTERN EUROPEAN 
COUNTRIES ARE REALIZING, AND NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP, HE 
SAID.  IT MUST GROW FROM INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AND WANTS 
COALESCING WITH OTHERS INTO GROUP DEMANDS AND THE 
FORMULATION OF ASSOCIATIONS TO ACHIEVE COMMON GOALS 
THROUGH POLITICAL ACTION, HE MAINTAINED.  THERE WILL BE NO 
DEVELOPMENT IF AS A PEOPLE WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEARN TO 
GOVERN OURSELVES, TO MAKE MISTAKES, AND TO LEARN FROM 
THEM, HE STATED. 
 
INSTEAD, HE SAID, THE DECISION FORCES PEOPLE TO THINK 
GOVERNMENT'S IDEAS, ACCEPT ITS VIEWS, AND OPERATE WITHIN 
ITS PRESCRIBED PARAMETERS.  MOREOVER, IT REINFORCES THE 
IDEA OF THE INEVITABILITY AND ACCEPTABILITY OF MILITARY 
RULE, HE CONTINUED.  ECHOING A THEME REPEATEDLY 
HEARD, TUKUR SAID THAT THE MILITARY HAS RULED NIGERIA FOR 
21-PLUS YEARS OF ITS 29 YEARS OF EXISTENCE.  THOSE FEW 
SHORT YEARS OF CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATION WERE INSUFFICIENT 
TO LEARN THE LESSONS OF DEMOCRACY, HE SAID, BUT THE LONG 
YEARS OF MILITARY CONTROL HAVE TAUGHT THAT THE POWER OF 
COERCION IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE MEANS TO RULE.  THE NEW 
DECISION, CONTEMPTUOUS AND HUMILIATING, SHOWS BABANGIDA'S 
TRUE COLORS - A DEMAGOGUE, CONVINCED OF THE MILITARY'S 
SUPERIORITY, WHO WANTS TO REMAIN IN POWER. 
 
8.  TUKUR CRITIZED THE POLITICAL ASSOCIATION EXERCISE AS A 
USELESS WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.  THE NEC REPORT MIRRORED 
THE FMG'S VIEW  THAT ALL CIVILIAN POLITICAL GROUPS AND 
POLITICANS, OLD AND NEW ALIKE, ARE UNTRUSTWORTHY BECAUSE 
BY THEIR VERY NATURE THEY OPPOSE THE SUPREMACY OF THE 
MILITARY, HE SAID.  THE DECISION THUS PERPETUATES THE IDEA 
THAT MILITARY RULE IS ACCEPTABLE, WHILE DISCREDITING THE 
EDUCATED AND EXPERIENCED CIVILIAN LEADERS.  IN EFFECT, 
THEN, THERE ARE ONLY TWO GROUPS IN NIGERIA - THE MILITARY 
AND EVERYONE ELSE; THESE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE TWO PARTIES 
AND THE PEOPLE ALLOWED TO DECIDE, HE SUGGESTED. 
 
AS FOR THE NEW LEFT/RIGHT DICHOTOMY, TUKUR OPINED THAT 
NIGERIA COULD NEVER BE TRULY LEFTIST BECAUSE IT IS TOO 
DIVERSE, INSUFFICIENTLY DEVELOPED, AND CULTURALLY 
OPPOSED.  THE TRADITIONS OF CHIEFTANCY, RESPECT FOR 
ELDERS, THE EDUCATED LEADING THE UNEDUCATED, AND THE 
EXPERIENCED AS GUIDES CANNOT BE ABOLISHED BY MILITARY 
FIAT.  MOREOVER, THE NIGERIAN PEOPLE ARE CAPITALISTS, 
BUSINESS-ORIENTED, AND FREE-THINKING, SO SOCIALIST AND 
COLLECTIVIST IDEAS WILL NOT PROSPER, HE SAID.  EVEN SO, 
THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOW IMPOSE IDEAS BASED ON THE THINKING 
OF BUREAUCRATS CONTROLLED BY THE MILITARY, SO ONE CANNOT 
TELL.  IN ANY CASE, MEMBERS OF THE NEW PARTIES WILL HAVE 
NO LOYALTY TO THE PARTY STRUCTURES OR THEIR IDEALS BECAUSE 
THEY WILL NOT HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THEIR DEVELOPMENT, HE 
CONCLUDED. 
 
9.  COMMENT:  ALHAJI TUKUR REFLECTS VIEWS COMMON AMONG 
NORTHERN TRADITIONAL ELITES - COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY 
TEMPERED BY LEADERSHIP BY THE ARISTOCRACY.  END COMMENT. 
 
10.  ALHAJI ADAMU IBRAHIM, FORMER LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
CHAIRMAN OF BALI, GONGOLA STATE, GAVE VIEWS FROM A 
DIFFERENT, MORE GRASSROOTS PERSPECTIVE.  THE PFN, HE SAID, 
HAD BEEN STRONGER IN HIS AREA THAN ANY OTHER POLITICAL 
ASSOCIATION.  ITS LEADERSHIP HAD BEEN "NEW BREED" BUT 
FOLLOWED PFN S DELI 
FFROM THE NATIONAL LEVEL.  HE 
WORRIES THAT THE NEC REPORT AND THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS 
AND DECISION SO CRITICIZED THESE BUDDING POLITICIANS THAT 
THEY WILL NOW OPT OUT.  HAVING BEEN ELECTED IN DECEMBER 
1987 ON PERSONAL MERIT, IBRAHIM HAD WANTED TO JOIN THE 
REPUBLICAN PARTY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMEN, BUT THERE 
WAS NO OPERATIONAL STRUCTURE IN GONGOLA STATE, GIVEN POOR 
COMMUNICATIONS AND INSUFFICIENT TIME.  HE BELIEVES THAT 
VOTERS WOULD FOLLOW HIM IF HE WERE TO INDICATE STRONG 
INTEREST AND PREFERENCE FOR ONE OF THE NEW PARTIES, BUT HE 
HAS DECIDED TO SIT IT OUT RATHER THAN HAVE A POLITICAL 
PROGRAM IMPOSED UPON HIM.  (HE IS NOW GONGOLA STATE'S 
LIAISON OFFICER IN KADUNA.)  HE SUSPECTS THAT THE SDP WILL 
DO WELL, GIVEN ITS WELFARIST STANCE, BUT THAT THE NRC WILL 
BE VIEWED AS "MORE ISLAMIC."  IN THE END, PREFERENCE WILL 
BE DEPENDENT ON WHICH WAY THE STATE AND NATIONAL 
LEADERSHIP GO, HE SAID. 
 
11.  COMMENT:  ONE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF BABANGIDA'S 
DECISION MAY BE TO DRIVE OUT SOME OF THE MORE IDEALISTIC 
POLITICAL NEOPHYTES WHO JOINED IN THE POLITICAL 
ASSOCIATION FORMATION EXERCISE.  THE DISILLUSIONMENT 
EXPRESSED BY ALHAJI IBRAHIM IS REPRESENTATIVE OF MANY 
VIEWS CONGEN HEARD FROM MIDDLE-LEVEL GOVERNMENT AND 
BUSINESS CONTACTS DURING THE VISIT TO BENUE AND GONGOLA 
STATES.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
HOLMES 

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