cable 08ABUJA1016, S/NF) NIGERIA: xxxxxxxxxxxx

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001016



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2033
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

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.

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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

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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.
End comment.

9. (S//NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx END NOTE.