US embassy cable - 02ABUJA1714


Identifier: 02ABUJA1714
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA1714 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-06-06 11:45:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
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.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  Major General Joseph Nanven Garba (retired) died Saturday 
morning, 1 June 2002, of undetermined causes.  He was 58. 
Surviving him are Kate, his wife of six months (and companion 
for five years before that), five daughters and one son (born 
to a former wife, Evelyn).  Funeral arrangements have not yet 
been announced, though family friends believe Saturday, 15 
June the most likely date.  President Obasanjo is likely to 
2.  As commander of the Brigade of Guards in 1975, Garba was 
one of the "five colonels" who executed the bloodless coup 
that toppled the increasingly rudderless regime of General 
Yakubu Gowon.  The colonels asked the triumvirate of Murtala 
Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo and Theophilus Danjuma to assume 
power.  Murtala, Obasanjo and Danjuma pledged to transfer 
power to an elected civilian government by 1979.  Garba 
became Nigeria's Commissioner for External Affairs.  Nigeria 
was increasingly active in world affairs during Garba's 
tenure, providing support to liberation struggles in 
Zimbabwe, South Africa and the remaining European colonies on 
the African continent.  He left that position in 1978 to take 
command of the Nigerian Defence Academy.  He was retired as a 
Major General in 1980 by the elected Shagari government. 
3.  He received a Masters Degree in Public Administration 
from Harvard in 1983.  When military rule returned in 1984, 
Garba became Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the United 
Nations, a position he held until 1989.  During that period, 
he was also Chairman, United Nations Special Committee 
Against Apartheid.  He was President of the UNGA for the 
1991-92 term. 
4.  In 2000, Garba became Director-General of the Nigerian 
Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), the 
position he held until his death.  The NIPSS campus outside 
of Jos (about three hours by road from Abuja) has become a 
major center for Government of Nigeria retreats.  Garba's 
dream was to make it a world-class seminar site, and he had 
received word from President Obasanjo shortly before his 
death that the NIPSS bid to host the Commonwealth Heads of 
Government retreat in 2003 had prevailed over two rivals. 
5.  At a private dinner at his Abuja residence 27 May, Garba 
was relaxed and expansive, holding forth on a broad range of 
subjects.  Hosting the CHOGM retreat, however, was uppermost 
in his mind.  He had not yet heard from Obasanjo at that time 
but was confident NIPSS was the only choice.  He relished the 
work that would go into planning the event and the permanent 
improvements to NIPSS facilities that would result. 
6.  Born 17 July 1943 in Langtang, a rural part of Plateau 
State, Garba was raised a Catholic and attended school in 
Shendam.  He was dismissive of dancing and drumming in 
church, voicing a preference for Gregorian Chants and the 
Latin Mass.  The late Archbishop of Jos, Gabriel Ganaka, one 
of Nigerian Catholicism's most conservative voices was a 
close friend.  Though several years younger than President 
Obasanjo and not one of his closest advisors, Garba was among 
the President's friends and probably exercised some influence. 

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