|Wikileaks:||View 02ABUJA2800 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL PNAT MOPS NI CM PTBS|
|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.
S E C R E T ABUJA 002800 SIPDIS NOFORN E.O. 12958:DECL: 1.6X1, 1.6X6 TAGS: PREL, PNAT, MOPS, NI, CM, PTBS SUBJECT: NIGERIA -- DEFENSE MINISTER DANJUMA TALKS TOUGH TO THE FRENCH REF: ABUJA 2787 CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER; REASONS: 1.6X1, 1.6X6. 1. (S/NF) Summary: During a September 23-24 Invitational Visit to EUCOM headquarters, Nigerian Defense Minister T.Y. Danjuma castigated the French for allegedly supporting Cameroon in the Bakassi dispute. A close confidante of President Obasanjo, Danjuma implied that Nigeria might nationalize French oil companies if the Bakassi flared because of Cameroonian reluctance, due to French support, to negotiate a political solution. End Summary. 2. (S/NF) During meetings with EUCOM DCINC, Nigerian Defense Minister talked expansively about the Bakassi. Danjuma asserted that the Bakassi was Nigerian territory and that Nigeria had the stronger legal case. Dismissing the legal significance of the 1913 Anglo-German treaty that ceded Bakassi to Germany, Danjuma claimed that the treaty is a nullity. As a "protecting power," the U.K. lacked authority, under international law, to dispose of the territory of the Obong of Calabar, the traditional ruler whose territory included Bakassi. (Comment: Most Nigerians embrace it as an article of national faith that Bakassi is theirs and that their case is legally and morally unassailable. While hard for outsiders to understand why Nigerians cannot see the weakness of their case, it is even more psychologically difficult for Nigerians to see that the Cameroonian position has merit. This inability to make an objective appraisal leads Nigerians to believe that an adverse ICJ verdict would be an injustice engineered by another country wanting to undermine Nigeria's national interests and steal its oil wealth. End Comment.) 3. (S/NF) Danjuma was surprisingly open about Nigeria's pique at perceived French support for Cameroon in the dispute over the Bakassi peninsula. Danjuma had accompanied President Obasanjo to Paris for the September 5 meeting with Cameroon's President Biya. Despite the positive public spin placed on the meeting, the Nigerian side was dissatisfied. It could not extract from Biya what it most wanted: an agreement to suspend the ICJ case so the sides could negotiate a political settlement. Obasanjo directed Danjuma to remain in Paris to express Nigerian displeasure to TotalFina/ ELF management. In his meeting with company executives, Danjuma told us that he complained the GOF was encouraging Biya's intransigence toward negotiations with Nigeria on Bakassi. He also told the French oilmen that France was providing military assistance to strengthen Cameroonian resolve over Bakassi. 4. (S/NF) Danjuma warned the businessmen that continued French instigation of Cameroon's attitude would be a serious challenge to Franco-Nigerian relations. Alluding to the nationalization of British Petroleum in 1977 due to South Africa and British support for Rhodesia, Danjuma clearly implied that the GON was contemplating taking the same action against France's biggest oil company unless France assumed a more helpful, or at least, a neutral role in the Bakassi. 5. (S/NF) COMMENT: The Nigerians intend Danjuma's comments to reach the French government, and Danjuma probably expects us to raise this with the French as well. Apparently, the Nigerians believe the best way to get to Biya is by pressuring Paris, and some of Danjuma's remarks were probably bluster intended to achieve the desired effect. Even if nationalization of TotalFina/ELF assets is improbable, the GON could easily exclude the oil major and other French firms from participation in future oil ventures in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the Cameroonian FM visited Nigeria for the Independence Day celebrations and reportedly came with a special message from Biya. The Nigerians now seem to be following a strategy of private tough talk coupled with conciliatory public posturing. JETER
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