US embassy cable - 02ABUJA2800

NIGERIA -- DEFENSE MINISTER DANJUMA TALKS TOUGH TO THE FRENCH

Identifier: 02ABUJA2800
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA2800 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-10-04 15:41:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
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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