Cablegate: Nigeria: Aid Asst. Administrator's Delta Visit

Published: Thu 31 Jul 2003 04:17 PM
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.(SBU) USAID Assistant Administrator Constance Newman
visited the violence-plagued Warri area July 17. Accompanied
by USAID Mission Director and Corporate Responsibility
Officer (CRO), Newman received a briefing on security,
community relations and community development from Shell's
General Manager for Production and its regional Manager for
Community Relations.
2.(SBU) The Shell officials described their often turbulent
relations with communities in the riverine areas of Delta
State. The company seeks "host community" relationships with
villages in the immediate vicinity of Shell installations and
pipelines. MOUs signed with the communities govern the
provision of community development assistance. In the past,
assistance was focused on tangibles such as wells, school
buildings and clinics. Shell is now reorienting its
community development program to focus on human capital --
through training, scholarships and job creation. Recognizing
that its staff is not well skilled at designing and
implementing sustainable assistance programs, Shell is also
seeking to out-source a large portion of its assistance.
Development agencies and organizations such as USAID, DFID
and the World Bank will be sought as partners in
collaborative assistance efforts.
3.(SBU) During a helicopter overflight of the Warri "creeks,"
Newman was shown closed facilities, including a Shell
logistics center completely destroyed by armed Ijaw
militants. She also saw the ruins of two Itsekiri villages
destroyed during the March Ijaw attacks. With the exception
of the huge Chevron terminal and tank farm at Escravos, the
area remains off-limits to oil company personnel because of
the lack of security. Flying over Warri's harbor, the group
saw one of the two USG-donated buoy tenders at berth and
could identify a weapon mounted on the boat's stern. (Note:
Photos of the boat have been passed to Post's DAO. End Note)
4.(SBU) In a meeting with Warri-area Ijaw leaders the AID A/A
heard complaints about the underdevelopment of Ijaw areas in
the Delta. Basic amenities such as clean water, roads and
schools are needed, claimed Ijaw national leader Chief Edwin
Clark. Despite the enormous wealth produced by the region,
villages remained isolated and development assistance has
been meager. Leaders of the Ijaw militants -- the Federated
Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) -- presented a more
strident message. Although the Ijaw leaders found fault with
the Niger Delta Development Commission -- the federal
government's vehicle for recycling a portion of oil
dividends to the communities -- they reserved their harshest
criticism for the oil industry. They called for a larger
allocation of development resources to Ijaw communities.
realignment of resources provided by the oil companies, to a
more equitable sharing with Ijaw communities. The militants
particularly faulted ChevronTexaco for allegedly favoring
Itsekiris with the company's development dollars.
5.(SBU) AA Newman's schedule prevented her from meeting
Itsekiri leaders, but the AID Mission Director and CRO met in
Sapele (about 40 kilometers from Warri) with leaders of
Itsekiri communities displaced from the Warri creeks.
Itsekiri leaders also complained about insufficient
development assistance. In a prophetic note, the Itsekiri
National Youth Council leader warned that Itsekiri youth were
preparing to fight. No longer would they "stand with their
arms folded" while the Ijaw attacked and destroyed their
villages; they would respond in kind to the next Ijaw
provocation. (Note: A July 24 Ijaw attack on the Itsekiri
village of Abi-Gborodo in Warri North Local Government Area
was met by a reprisal attack by the Itsekiri youth the
following day -- the first time the Itsekiri have used force
in this crisis that began in March. End Note).
6.(SBU) Comment: The visit served to highlight the
complexity of the current Warri situation. It is an ethnic,
emotional and economic conundrum that will require deft
handling to minimize. Tribalism, ethnic animosities, and
frustration over lack of economic opportunities have grown.
Groups compete against each other for this portion of meager
local resources as well as contest each other for the
attention of the only functioning authority seen in the area
-- the oil companies. Attempts at political settlements will
mostly likely fail as they do not address the core economic
grievances of the ethnic groups involved. Conflict
mitigation work and development assistance aimed at the
micro-level has a greater chance of success. For this reason,
USAID has assigned a priority to projects addressing conflict
in the Delta, through public-private partnerships with the
7.(SBU) As part of its new five-year strategy (2004-2009)
USAID has commissioned an assessment of the southern region
of Nigeria, with a focus on the Delta. USAID has engaged in
numerous discussions with the oil companies regarding current
and future partnerships aimed at economic growth and
community development. USAID will use the southern
assessment to help guide its future investments in the Delta
8.(U) Post was not able to clear this cable with AA Newman
before her departure.
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