If you drive past the site for the grand towers Abuja shopping mall, you will notice alot of activity. The annoucment was made recently of the plan to construct a major shopping mall in Abuja, Judging fro other examples I have seen across Africa particularly Johanesburg , Lusaka and Accra this promises to be full of potential.
Read more below
Grand Towers Plc has signed a contract of N2.9 billion with the Italian DTV Construction Company for the construction of the Abuja Shopping Mall.
The chairman of grand towers plc, Nze Chidi Duru and Managing Director of DTV, Mr. Piercano Bocciochio, both signed the contract agreement on behalf of their respective organisations at Grand Towers head office, Maitama Abuja.
Grand Tower plc has earlier declared that the company has so far generated N100b for investment in Nigeria during the facility visit to the site of the Abuja mall recently.
Speaking during the signing of the contract, Nze said they are happy to have pioneered a life changing experience in Abuja and to have great partners like Novare who have worked day and night to make the Grand Towers Abuja Mall a reality.
Nze said they had partnered with a leading specialist emerging market financial services company, Novare in South Africa to manage the Grand Towers Africa Fund and also partnered with Broll Nigeria, Group Five, Stanbic IBTC and shoprite.
“The Grand Towers Abuja Mall has been designed to offer a vibrant, convenient and safe shopping experience on level, and incorporates green building principles which are a first for Nigeria.The project is developed and financed by Grand Towers Plc and Grand Towers Africa Fund, which is managed by Novare,” he commented.
Derrick Roper, CEO, Novare, said they are proud to be associated with the new development, saying that Grand Towers Africa Property Fund focused on retail developments with reputable anchor tenants.
He said, “The fund’s first phase of investments is in West Africa, leveraging off the African expansion strategies of key South African and international companies. The fund aims for US dollar returns of 25% a year and we look forward to The Grand Towers Abuja Mall contributing to the achievement of that objective”.
Shoprite according to Nze will be the anchor food tenant at the mall, adding that the mall will also be home to a variety of international, national and local stores. “The mall’s retail mix includes fashion, speciality, electronics, sports equipment, furniture, home improvement, entertainment, health and beauty, food and banks. The centre will have in excess of 400 parking bays,” he concluded.
Update- 29th January
(Source: All Africa)
FCT Minister, Senator Bala A. Muhammed, has hailed Grand Towers Plc for its Grand Towers Abuja mall's project, which will kick off soon in the capital city.
The minister who was represented by Ibrahim Habu Sule, his senior special assistant on finance and economic matters, noted that the project will tremendously transform the shopping culture of residents in the city as well as reduce poverty and unemployment.
He said the project will give FCT residents options to shop for high quality variety products which will prevent many of them from travelling abroad thereby saving foreign exchange and time.
While reiterating government's effort to tackle infrastructural challenges in the country, the minister said the present administration will partner with serious minded developers who are interested in investing in the city.
He said FCTA has directed the department of development control to ensure that the grand towers comply strictly with regulations guiding land use in its construction of the mall. Mr. Jan Van Zyl, business development manager of Shoprite, the anchor tenant of the mall, said they are proud to be part of the project.
Grand Tower African Property Fund, Novare South Africa with Stanbic IBTC, DTV and Group 5 as partners, generated $100m for investment in West Africa with Nigeria as the primary focus and Abuja considered as the first beneficiaries of the fund.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 000259
STATE PASS USTR FOR AGAMA
USDOE FOR GEORGE PERSON AND CHAYLOCK
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2028
TAGS: EPET ENRG ELAB PINR ECON SENV PGOV NI
SUBJECT: (C) NIGERIA: SHELL BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON OIL GAS ISSUES,
COMMENTS ON PRESIDENT'S HEALTH AND HIGH-LEVEL CORRUPTION
REF: ABUJA 203
Classified By: Ambassador Robin R. Sanders for reasons 1.4. (b
¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Shell's regional executive vice president for
Africa Ann Pickard and government relations representative Peter
Francis met with the Ambassador on January 27 in Abuja and provided
an update on problems in the oil and gas sector. Pickard said that
things were going from bad to worse, especially the security
situation. She said that Nigeria now had one of the highest negative
ratings for maritime operations, creating problems for Shell in
hiring oil tankers to load, as tanker operators will work only under
highly selective conditions. Last year there were about 80 piracy
attacks on land and water combined. This year already 15 have been
tallied, which includes 3 for Shell and 3 for Exxon. On corruption,
Pickard said that Nigerian entities control the lifting of many oil
cargoes and there are some "very interesting" people lifting oil.
Oil buyers would pay NNPC GMD Yar'Adua, Chief Economic Advisor Yakubu
and the First Lady Turai Yar'Adua large bribes to lift oil. Pickard
also reported an instance of the Attorney General Aondoakaa allegedly
soliciting a $20 million bribe to sign a document. The International
Oil Companies (IOC) are quite concerned about the "very flawed" new
petroleum sector energy bill. The IOCs will be asking U.S., Dutch,
and U.K. COMs to convey points on the bill to GON policymakers.
Pickard agreed that the President's health is a guessing game. She
said that in her recent meetings with Yar'Auda he seems alert, though
very drawn in the face, thin, and frail. Her information is that the
President was not in danger of dying soon, but also was unlikely to
ever fully recover from his ailments. (Note: see septel on oil/energy
sector issues for the Ambassador's meeting with the new Minister of
Petroleum Resources. End Note). END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Shell's regional executive vice president for Africa Ann
Pickard and government relations representative Peter Francis met
with the Ambassador on January 27, 2009 in Abuja and provided an
update on problems in the oil and gas sector. Pickard reported that
Shell's meeting with Minister of Petroleum Resources Dr. Rilwanu
Lukman scheduled for earlier that day had been cancelled; the third
week in a row where key appointments had fallen through, with the
excuse of being summoned to the Presidential Villa. (Note: Emboffs
have observed that meetings with ministers and senior staff are
indeed often cancelled with the explanation that they have been
summoned to the Presidential Villa, even when the President is out of
town. End note). Econ Counselor and Econoff (notetaker) also
attended the discussion.
- - - - - - - - -
from bad to worse
- - - - - - - - -
¶3. (C) The Ambassador took the opportunity to share with Pickard that
the Mission was in the midst of completing its Strategic Plan and
asked Pickard where she thought Nigeria was headed. Pickard said that
things were going from bad to worse, especially in terms of security.
She said that Nigeria now had the highest negative rating for
maritime security, creating problems for Shell in hiring oil tankers
to load; tankers will work only under highly selective conditions.
She also noted that late on the evening of Saturday January 17,
Nigerian militants attacked and boarded two vessels at a Shell crude
oil loading platform in Bonny and took eight crew members hostage.
Standard procedure on the tanker was followed: the ship went into
immediate lock down; there were no injuries or fatalities from the
boarding. The eight Nigerian crew members who were taken hostage were
later released. The pirates who went through the sections of the
boat to which they were able to gain access, smashing and stealing
computers, electronics, and personal items of the crew members. The
second vessel was a tug boat towing a supply vessel from Bonny to
Calabar. Last year there were about 80 incidents of piracy; this
year already 15 had been tallied, which includes 3 for Shell and 3
for Exxon. GON officials have told Shell to "hire more security."
The price of doing business in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria
continues to climb she concluded. [Note: The International Maritime
Bureau (IMB), a division of the International Chamber of Commerce -
www icc-ccs org - reports that the waters off the Gulf of Guinea
(Nigeria) remain the second worst, with 40 incidents in 2008 to the
Horn of Africa (Somalia) with 42 recorded incidents. The IMB notes
that in 2009 the Horn of Africa will be more intense as Spring comes
due to the large number of foreign warships in the region on active
patrol to ensure the safety and security of vessels. The same
increased security is not expected for Nigeria in 2009. End Note]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
shell believes coup unlikely; corruption worsening
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Abuja 00000259 002 of 003
¶4. (S/NF) The Ambassador asked what Shell's thoughts were on any
potential for a coup. Pickard answered that there is little
intellectual capital to plan and execute a coup and Shell sees little
potential for one. Pickard then went on to say that corruption in
the oil sector was worsening by the day. The Ambassador asked for a
few examples. Pickard said that Nigerian entities control the
lifting of many oil cargoes and there are some "very interesting"
people lifting oil (People, she said that were not even in the
industry). As an example she said that oil buyers would pay Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) General Managing Director
Yar'Adua, (Note: not related to President Yar'Adua. End Note) Chief
Economic Advisor Yakubu, and the First Lady Turai Yar'Adua large
bribes, millions of dollars per tanker, to lift oil. The IOCs
control the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cargos, so GON actors do
not have the same opportunity for illicit gain. Pickard also said xxxxxxxxxxxx
Attorney General Aondoakaa had told a visitor that he would sign
a document only if the visitor paid $2 million immediately and
another $18 million the next day.
- - - - - - -
very bad bill
- - - - - - -
¶5. (C) Pickard reported that Shell, Exxon-Mobil and Chevron all have
big license review disputes with the GON. Shell has taken its
dispute to court and the court is supporting Shell's position.
According to her, Shell is stepping back for the moment, however, to
see how the other two majors negotiation fair, but is not taking its
case out of court yet. The IOCs are quite concerned about the "very
flawed" new petroleum sector energy bill. The bill is silent on what
fiscal regimes would be applied. Shell says that the bill could
reduce the corporation's overall value in Nigeria. GON discussions
around the bill have mentioned the possibility of moving to five-year
licenses and prohibiting exploring both oil and gas from the same
source, which would contradict how oil and gas extraction works in
practice. The bill is silent on joint ventures; it just states that
NNPC will be incorporated. Pickard said the bill was "likely to sail
through." The IOCs will be asking U.S., Dutch and U.K. COMs to
convey points on the bill to GON policymakers. (Note: Pickard
mentioned that the IOCs will not share company information directly;
they will hire consultants, like McKinsey, to produce common themes
so the messages from the IOCs to be shared with the relevant
Ambassadors are clear and consistent. End note). Pickard lamented
that the expected cycle of petroleum is at least five years for the
first oil to flow, another 10 years of production to begin to break
even. These numbers change when oil is $40 per barrel instead of $100
per barrel. Hence, a five year license would not be an incentive for
investment and development.
- - - - - -
- - - - - -
¶6. (C) The Ambassador said that the Mission was looking at
performance measures for the economy, i.e. the linkage between the
country's electricity output and gross domestic product (GDP). The
Ambassador shared that the Mission feels strongly that gas for
feedstock is the key to Nigeria's power production, which is only
about 2,800 average megawatts for a country of 140 million people.
Pickard agreed and added that the U.S. got it wrong on its domestic
natural gas policies, which it took over 20 years to sort out. So it
is not surprising that Nigeria has it wrong at this point. She said
there is not adequate infrastructure for gas. Gathering plants and
pipelines to carry the product to the power plants still have to be
financed and built. The Nigeria Independent Power Projects (NIPP)
were located where there is no gas and no infrastructure. In
addition, the international oil companies were coerced into building
a power plant each, something they have no expertise in, and they are
scrambling to deliver gas to these plants.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
yar'auda vacation is perhaps something else
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶7. (S/NF) Pickard agreed that the President's health is a guessing
game. She said that in her recent meetings with Yar'Auda he seems
alert but drawn in the face and frail. She reported that a xxxxxxxxxxxx
contact says that the President was not in danger of
dying soon but has serious ailments from which he will never fully
recover. Pickard shared that Berger provides transportation
including planes for the President and has reportedly flown in
doctors and technicians to attend the President (reftel). She said,
for instance, that xxxxxxxxxxxx confided that they flew the
President from Germany to Saudi in September 2008. Additionally, the
Berger contact thought the President would not return to the Villa
Abuja 00000259 003 of 003
offices, as they were moving the President's personal things out of
the Villa. (Note: What we think this means is that Yar'Adua is
spending most of his time in the presidential residence and not in
the Villa offices. End Note).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
hopes that oil nationalism can be tempered
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶8. (C) The Ambassador asked how comfortable Shell was with the new
appointment of Dr. Rilwanu Lukman as Minister of Petroleum Resources,
and the appointment of Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo as the new NNPC GMD.
Pickard sees the nationalism card cooling with the removal of former
NNPC GMD Yar'Adua, given that new Minister of Petroleum Lukman is
more "pragmatic" and will hold sway over deputy Minister Ajumogobia.
(Note: Ajumogobia's technical assistant told EconOff in a meeting on
January 14, 2009 that the State Minister was focusing on Gas, since
before the mass cabinet change he was State Minster of Petroleum,
with a separate State Minster for Gas.) End Note. She said she was
also okay with NNPC chief Barkindo. She has worked with Barkindo
several times over the past few decades, especially when they were
both working climate change. She said Barkindo led Nigeria's
technical delegation to climate change negotiations that produced the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)and the
Kyoto protocol to UNFCCC during while he served on its Bureau at
various times. She indicated that although his undergraduate studies
were in political science, he obtained his MBA from Southeastern
University in Washington DC and did postgraduate work in petroleum
economics and management at Oxford University. Although she also said
terms like nationalistic and Chavez she however said that she thought
he could be steered in the right direction on the petroleum sector.
- - - -
- - - -
¶9. (C) Although Pickard clearly seems frustrated with the way things
are going in the maritime security, oil sector legislation, and
corruption which affects Shell's bottom line, it was useful to hear
that she has hopes for the new Petroleum Minister and NNPC chief.
Septel on the Ambassador's meeting with new Petroleum Minister Lukman
will address many of these same issues.
¶10. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001016
DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA, INR/B
DOE FOR GPERSON
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2033
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM KISL SOCI NI
SUBJECT: (S/NF) NIGERIA: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Ref: a. ABUJA 320
b. ABUJA 799
c. ABUJA 972
Classified By: A/Pol/C Heather Merritt, reasons 1.4 (b, c & d).
¶1. (S//NF) SUMMARY: xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that Yar'Adua began
experiencing symptoms of acute renal failure in late 1999,
and traveled at that time to Mainz, Germany, to consult with
kidney specialists. xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed, that in 1999, German
doctors told Yar'Adua to undergo dialysis treatment, and that
a dialysis unit was subsequently installed in his private
Katsina residence in 2000. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx when
Yar'Adua's condition worsened in 2002, he traveled to Saudi
Arabia to receive a kidney transplant. To ensure his body
would accept the transplant, Yar'Adua took steroids and other
medications which in due course reportedly caused the
discoloration that we see today on the President's face.
Moreover, xxxxxxxxxxxx averred that Yar'Adua's poor health reduced
his capacity to govern and, correspondingly, his political
influence in the North. xxxxxxxxxxxx also alleged that during
Yar'Adua's tenure as Katsina governor his wife, Hajiya Turai
Yar'Adua, persuaded Yar'Adua to divert millions of dollars of
public funds from the Katsina state treasury into private
accounts. (Note: We have heard of similar illicit enrichment
attempts by Mrs. Yar'Adua now that she is in the Villa as
well as scarce allegations that President Yar'Adua had
engaged in corruption while Katsina governor. End Note.) On
the political front, amidst current rumors of President
Yar'Adua's failing health, the northern political elite
appears increasingly concerned that in the event of
Yar'Adua's untimely demise, the presidency may return to the
South. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (S//NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx spoke with
PolOff May 26. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that Yar'Adua began experiencing
symptoms of acute renal failure in late 1999, after traveling
to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the lesser pilgrimage in Mecca.
Upon returning from Saudi Arabia, xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed, Yar'Adua
traveled to Mainz, Germany to consult with kidney experts.
According to xxxxxxxxxxxx the German specialists instructed
Yar'Adua to promptly go on dialysis treatment. xxxxxxxxxxxx stated
that the German-based Julius Berger construction company,
which had significant financial ties to the Yar'Adua family
(through the President's elder brother Shehu Yar'Adua), was
contracted to set up a dialysis unit in Yar'Adua's home in
Katsina. Doctors from Germany were brought to Katsina to
train local physicians in dialysis operations, though, xxxxxxxxxxxx
asserted, Yar'Adua also retained the services of German
kidney specialists in Wiesbaden, making frequent trips there
between 2000 and 2002.
¶3. (S//NF) Following a 2001 visit to Saudi Arabia, xxxxxxxxxxxx
said, Yar'Adua's condition worsened, and he was diagnosed
with chronic renal failure. Upon returning from Saudi
Arabia, Yar'Adua's dialysis treatments become more rigorous,
xxxxxxxxxxxx confided, and his dialysis machine was moved into his
private bedroom. xxxxxxxxxxxx maintained that Yar'Adua likely
received a kidney transplant in Saudi Arabia in either late
2001 or early 2002. xxxxxxxxxxxx also claimed that Yar'Adua's
dialysis machine was removed from his Katsina residence in
2002 and that discoloration was evident on his face at that
time, which he assessed was the result of Yar'Adua taking
steroids and other medications to enable his body to accept a
transplant. xxxxxxxxxxxx rejected notions Yar'Adua suffered from
Churgg-Strauss syndrome. Additionally, xxxxxxxxxxxx explained that
the raised patch of skin often noted by observers on
President Yar'Adua's right hand is not connected to his
kidney ailments, but instead the result of a serious car
accident Yar'Adua sustained in 1999. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx
after Yar'Adua's car accident, his physicians removed some
tissue from his buttock area to graft to his injured, and
badly disfigured hand.
Abuja 00001016 002 of 003
¶4. (S//NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that Yar'Adua "always" craved
power, dating back to the days when Yar'Adua first contested
and lost the governorship of Katsina state in 1991. Indeed,
xxxxxxxxxxxx remarked, Yar'Adua's politically prominent family
"bred" him to assume office in the future. However, xxxxxxxxxxxx
asserted that throughout Yar'Adua's administration in
Katsina, his performance suffered due to his poor health,
which contributed to his constant fatigue, and to "an
inability to govern." Whereas Katsina state commissioners
and permanent secretaries routinely worked twelve-hour days,
xxxxxxxxxxxx said that governor Yar'Adua himself entered the office
at 10:00am and returned home around 3:00pm each day.
According to xxxxxxxxxxxx Yar'Adua seemed disinterested in
engaging in the requisite politicking that is the hallmark of
political relations between elected leaders and power brokers
in the North, and Nigeria generally. Yar'Adua's
disinclination to travel while governor, even to neighboring
states to meet with the northern political elite, also
perpetuated his political isolation.
¶5. (S//NF) During his tenure as governor of Katsina, xxxxxxxxxxxx
maintained, Yar'Adua appeared deliberative and ruthless in
managing the affairs of his state. While intelligent,
Yar'Adua, according to xxxxxxxxxxxx neither tolerated disagreement
nor insubordination. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that Yar'Adua ultimately
relied on a handful of confidants, whom xxxxxxxxxxxx considered
sycophants more than dispassionate consultants. xxxxxxxxxxxx said
that Yar'Adua, paradoxically, routinely ignored the counsel
of even his purportedly trusted advisers, preferring instead,
to make his own decisions. In so doing, xxxxxxxxxxxx said,
Yar'Adua had been assessed by some other northern elders as
both an unimpressive leader, and an irresponsible one.
¶6. (S//NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx suggested that while Yar'Adua served as
governor of Katsina, Yar'Adua's wife Hajiya Turai Yar'Adua,
manipulated him into diverting millions of dollars of funds
from the state treasury into private Yar'Adua family
accounts. xxxxxxxxxxxx alleged that Yar'Adua used these stolen
funds to construct a lavish private residence in Katsina and
to finance family vacations to the Middle East and the UK
(Ref A). Though xxxxxxxxxxxx acknowledged that Yar'Adua as former
governor had built primary and secondary schools in Katsina,
xxxxxxxxxxxx criticized Yar'Adua for failing to properly fund the
training of teachers for those schools. As a result, xxxxxxxxxxxxx
said, unlike in the past, under Yar'Adua's two terms as
governor, Katsina students consistently failed to meet
national standards in math and reading assessments. xxxxxxxxxxxx
said that for Yar'Adua, "it was all about the spectacle of
governing." Even the roadways in Katsina, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, may
have been impressive, particularly when compared to the
deplorable road network in other parts of the North, however,
xxxxxxxxxxxx alleged that while the roads had been built, the
contract costs were egregiously inflated and the excess funds
were siphoned. xxxxxxxxxxxx said some Katsina road contracts had
been given to non-existent, "ghost" companies, which were
secretly "owned" by Turai Yar'Adua.
¶7. (S//NF) COMMENT:xxxxxxxxxxxx allegations of Turai Yar'Adua's contract-related
corruption in Katsina also seem credible in light of similar
claims previously reported by the Mission since she became
the First Lady (see Ref A, for example).xxxxxxxxxxxx perspective may help shed light on
President Yar'Adua. As reported (Ref C), we believe the
President has two sides: one, for international consumption;
and the other, which turns a blind eye to certain rule of law
issues, particularly as it pertains to his wife.
Then-governor Yar'Adua's unwillingness to engage in the
necessary politicking to build a broad base of support in
Katsina may have been relatively insignificant against the
backdrop of insular Katsina state, or even northern regional,
politics. However, as president of a diverse nation, with
competing regional interests and powerful patronage networks,
Yar'Adua's continued political isolation (even within the
Abuja 00001016 003 of 003
North) may illustrate, to an extent, why even today Yar'Adua
has not fully succeeded in truly stamping his authority on
the PDP or the Presidency.
¶8. (S//NF) COMMENT CONT'D: Certainly, Yar'Adua's health
remains a cause of concern for northern power brokers,
especially in light of the possibility that Vice President
Goodluck Jonathan would constitutionally be next in line for
the presidency in the event of Yar'Adua's demise, although we
doubt the northern elite would allow this to transpire.
Opposition presidential aspirant Muhammadu Buhari (All
Nigeria People's Party) told PolOff May 13 at his Kaduna home
that given the North's trepidation of power returning to the
South (if, for instance, Yar'Adua cannot complete his term),
Buhari feels vindicated in his insistence on challenging the
President's election. Buhari intimated that members of the
northern political elite have begun visiting him to affirm
their allegiance to him, and to support him as he continues
to contest Yar'Adua's election at the Supreme Court (see Ref
B). Buhari noted that, in light of news of Yar'Adua's
troubling health, some northern power brokers now believe
fresh polls (wherein Buhari emerges the victor) might be the
best way of ensuring that the North retains the presidency.
¶9. (S//NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx END NOTE.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000202
DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR GEORGE PERSON
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL EFIN KCOR TBIO NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SARAKI ON PRESIDENT'S HEALTH, NEED FOR
ACTION ON PRIORITIES IN 2009, APPOINTMENT OF FORMER NFIU CHIEF TO GOVERNOR'S FORUM
Classified By: Political Counselor Walter Pflaumer for reasons 1.4. (b
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Ambassador met with Kwara State Governor and
President of the Governor's Forum (GF) Bukola Saraki on
January 28. Saraki was his usual self, discussing President
Yar'Adua's health situation and his own attempt to resolve
some of the EFCC's issues by appointing the former NFIU Chief
as Director General of the GF. He also noted that he had
followed through on the framework for stemming polio
outbreaks tha tthe Ambassador had given to him in December
2008 to share with the 36 governors. (NOTE: The Ambassador
had provided the interagency points on what states needed to
do better to address polio in Nigeria.) Saraki continues to
maintain that Yar'Adua does not have lung cancer and noted
that he is less fatigued and breathing better than in
September 2008. Saraki told me Yar'Adua recognizes the need
to take visible action on his seven point agenda in 2009, as
January 2010 will see the beginning of political maneuvering
for the 2011 elections. Saraki put the recent reconciliation
between former President Obasanjo and former VP Atiku in the
context of preparations for the 2011 elections. He again
thanked Ambassador for a presentation on polio sent by the
Mission and noted that the governors agreed to work to
eradicate polio in their respective states under the umbrella
of the "Make Your State Polio Free" campaign. END SUMMARY.
Saraki comments on yar'adua's health
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶2. (C) On the President, Saraki began by saying Yar'Adua will
remain in Abuja the week of January 26 and plans to travel to
Katsina and other areas of Nigeria the next week. He holds
to his view (as a medical doctor) that Yar'Adua is
chronically ill, suffering from kidney disease, but maintains
that he knows of no plans to go to Germany for treatment and
does not believe he has lung cancer or is in need of a kidney
transplant at this time. Saraki said Yar'Adua wanted to go
out of Nigeria with his family for vacation, but was
concerned that international travel would be perceived as
another medical trip, so decided to stay in Nigeria to allay
any fears. Regarding Yar'Adua's health in general, Saraki
said that Yar'Adua suffers from less fatigue and shortness of
breath than he had in September 2008, and has not had a major
episode since returning to Nigeria from his September trip to
Saudi Arabia, implying that his medical regime has given him
¶3. (C) NOTE: In a January 27 meeting, Shell Petroleum Vice
President for Africa Anne Pickard noted to Ambassador that xxxxxxxxxxxx
the German construction and transport company
Julius Berger xxxxxxxxxxxx provide transportation to and
from Germany for doctors looking after Yar'Adua, as well as
helps ship medical equipment to Abuja.
Yar'adua realizes need to act in 2009
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
¶4. (C) Saraki asked the Ambassador (given her recent trip
back) how Nigeria is being viewed in the U.S. these days.
Ambassador noted that there was still concern that there was
not more movement on Yar'Adua's 7-point agenda, nor concrete
steps to improve the Niger Delta situation and the lack of
movement on the anti-corruption fight remains at the top of
the list. Saraki said he discussed this with Yar'Adua and
that Yar'Adua realized he needs to move faster and no longer
has the liberty to be as deliberative as his nature might
dictate. Saraki said that he and Yar'Adua are of like minds
in seeing 2009 as a "make or break" year. In January 2010,
political camps within the PDP will already be formulating
their positions on candidates for the 2011 election and it
would be harder for Ministers and others to take any bold
actions as they seek their godfathers for 2011. Ambassador
asked Saraki if he thought the PDP would support Yar'Adua for
another term, if he so desired. Saraki said he did not know,
noting there are already others interested (i.e., Atiku) who
will also be working the party members. Saraki said he did
not know and has not received any signal from Yar'Adua
regarding his plans for 2011.
Abuja 00000202 002 of 002
Saraki on obasanjo-atiku meeting
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶5. (C) Saraki maintained that former President Obasanjo and
former VP Atiku were having a "lovefest" in order to prepare
for the 2011 elections. Asked about internal machinations
within the PDP lately, which clearly have the governors on
one side and politicos like Obasanjo and Atiku on the other,
Saraki said this was the case and he expected things to
continue in this vein as people begin to decide who they are
going to back for the 2011 election. Saraki said Atiku would
officially be coming back into the PDP in March 2009.
Gov's forum to put efcc back on track
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶6. (C) Saraki said he is trying to work behind the scenes
getting the issues surrounding the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission "back on track." He maintained this was
the motivation behind hiring former Nigerian Financial
Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Director Ashishano Bayo Okauru as
Director General of the Governor's Forum (announced publicly
on January 27). Saraki said Okauru is not/not being pursued
on corruption nor national security grounds and neither is
there an arrest pending on him. According to Saraki, Okauru
has worked out his "resignation issues." (COMMENT: Given
previous EFCC focus on the Saraki family, we are skeptical of
the Governor's comments as he has a vested in terest in the
EFCC taking its spotlight off his family. END COMMENT.)
State-level polio eradication campaigns
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
¶7. (C) Saraki said the governors were appreciative of the
polio presentation the Ambassador sent to the Governors'
Forum in December, noting the attendance of Ministry of
Health officials at the forum. The governors agreed to a
campaign to make their states polio-free and report on polio
issues at each GF meeting. Further developments will be
¶8. (C) COMMENT: Although Saraki is very plugged in with
President Yar'Adua and holds a lot of political sway with
many governors, particuarly in the north, we always need to
weigh his motives with the information he provides in
one-on-one meetings. He certainly sees himself as a
potential political candidate at sometime and sees Yar'Adua
as one of his best vehicles to get there. On the other hand,
he clearly has fears about the Obasanjo-Atiku reunion as they
would be a more difficult faction of the PDP to control.
¶9. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
Updated:24th January 2011
Despite the initial hicups, I did get it , and here's the proof.
The voter registration exercise in Nigeria , should be viewed as the first step to performing one's duties as a citizen.
Once a person is registered, the next step is to make sure you become informed of the various candidates, and ultimately help elect qualified people, by going out to vote.
The voting exercise for Nigeria's 2011 elections began on the 15th of January, after much fanfare you started to notice little white plastic desks scattered around various points in the city with at least 2 youth corpers , 1 civil defence personnel and in some cases a police officer manning the registration unit.
Personally, I had no idea where the registration units were in my district , but after 3 days, I noticed people congregating nearby and alot of activity so we figured out it must be the unit.
I tried getting the polling stations online, by visiting INEC website, got lots of information and news but unfortunately not the information I was searching for , further investigation led me to another site which had a lot of useful info it is called the reclaim Naija project , a grass root movement.
They had information from around the country but at the time not FCT, I eventually confirmed this by reading a tweet from a kind gentleman who had uploaded a picture of a document with the polling stations in Maitama on twitter.
After a few false starts, I decided to get it done at all cost on 21st of January and this is a basic summary of how the day went.
I arrived early and put my name down on a list, the people had organised themselves into writing down a list which was used once the Inec officials arrived to hand out que tickets.
At 6:45am there were already 90 or more names on the list so I complied accordingly and waited.
8:30 am the Inec officials had arrived and started handing out the que tickets,
My estimated time of service read 11:13 am so I just waited around and watched the process commence.
There was generally a large turn out and I must commend the INEC staff , who despite the difficult conditions managed to compose themselves proffesionally throughout .
You could see people from every tribe in Nigeria showing up comming together and registering
Technically people were discouraged from jumping the line as is normal here , allowances were made for pregnant women , women carrying babies or elderly people.
Commerce flourished as all sorts of vendors from newspapers to softdrinks did some brisk trade.
As the day progressed we started to notice the data capture machine was slowing down so it was taking longer to process each person, basically although the machines have a backup system, the data had to be backed up and the data flushed from the memory to ensure smooth operations unfortunately most of the staff at the registration units dont have the correct access control /permission or passwords to perform this function.
The day just progressively dragged on, the staff would sometimes switch places / functions to eliminate monotony I believe. Apart from capturing the data via the scanner and computer, there was an additional giant notepad used to collect name address and thumb print information for an extra level of data integrity
The highlight of my wait was suddenly noticing increased activity from security personnel in the area, an elegant lady who I recognised but couldn't place suddenly emerged from the SUV and joined us briefly in the que, she exchanged greetings with some people in the crowd and suddenly began advising members of the public about the importance of making sure we all voted after this registration process . Apparently she had also somehow waited for 2 previous days to register . The lady is a politician, Ireti Heebah Kingibe , I recognised her because I've seen her posters plastered all over Abuja
She eventually registered , bade everyone farewell and was on her way again.
I spent the rest of the day waiting for my number to come up, but in the process I spoke with people waiting around with me and even managed to interview some of the Inec support staff in the area.
In reality, people are still excited about the opportunity to make a difference in these elections although many are sceptical about if thier votes will really count.
Like with most things, there are bound to be initial teething problems but most people were optimistic the process was improving by the day.
The youth corpers at this particular registration unit were working very hard and did a tremendous job of it considering the circumstances
Eventually at about 2:30pm my number was called up , I did my data capture thumb print etc but Alas!
I couldn't get the voters registration card today, come tommorow the black ink had finishd in the HP printer
BY CHRIS OCHAYI, Abuja
THE Christmas and New Year celebrations have come and gone but the harrowing and excruciating pains experienced by the motorists and other users of the Abuja-Lokoja highway will ever remain indelible.
The story of the Abuja-Lokoja road is pathetic, even as hope of rescuing it from its present deteriorating situation remains a mirage. Worst still, is the near failure of contracts for the dualisation of the highway project.
The 196 kilometres highway is one of the most critical roads in the country, being the major link between the North and South for the movement of people, goods through vehicular transportation.
The road is also very significant to the survival of the nation because it boosts economic activities in the country.
It links the entire southern Nigeria to Abuja, the seat of the power, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and to the rest of the northern states and therefore, one of the busiest roads in Nigeria today.
The single lane highway shares similar characteristics with most other road networks in the country as it lacks maintenance and adequate care by the Federal Government. Abuja-Lokoja road is extremely too narrow for a link between the North and the South.