Cablegate: Nigeria Public Diplomacy Influence Analysis

Published: Mon 26 Sep 2005 01:58 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
Ref: State A) 033359, B) ABUJA 000680
1. Introduction: Nigeria is Africa's most populous
nation and the central gravity for the continent's
emerging democracies. Nigeria's President Olusegun
Obasanjo is the current Chair of the Africa Union, and
with approximately 130 million people and still
growing, Nigeria provides the largest share of
peacekeeping personnel and logistics to most of
Africa's hot spots. Nigeria's size, diversity and
economy have direct strong influence on its neighbors
such as Chad, Niger, Benin, and Cameroon. The country
has access to a complex array of media, foreign and
domestic, electronic and print, as well as growing use
of the Internet. Nigerian public figures and opinion
leaders utilize and are influenced by all forms of
media and communication systems, but electronic media
are most pervasive in Nigerian society and have the
strongest reach to mass audiences. Free-to-air decoders
that provide free Arabic-language satellite broadcasts
from the Middle East, especially Al-Jazeera, has made a
strong inroad into many northern Nigerian homes.
Surveys have shown that about 67 percent of Nigerians
get their news from radio, 20 per cent from television,
10 per cent from newspapers and handbills, and 3 per
cent from the Internet. Given the high reliance on
electronic forms of media, the Nigerian Government has
been reluctant to give up its control of national and
state-level radio and television stations, but has
largely ceded the print media to the private sector,
which has surprisingly high number of daily and weekly
newspapers competing for a comparatively small
2. Press independence remains a work in progress,
given the high degree of government control in the
media. Thus Nigerians rely heavily on foreign media
outlets for information about world news and
secondarily, Nigerian news. Aware of the popularity of
foreign media, Nigerian officials have voiced their
displeasure and worry over foreign media influence in
Nigeria. Recently the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission
(NBC) banned direct rebroadcast of foreign news by
Nigerian affiliate stations of the BBC, VOA and DW.
The NBC has also outlawed the sale and use of free-to-
air decoders in Nigeria, but these measures have not
deterred Nigerian audiences who continue to receive
foreign broadcasts including the CNN, CCTV and Al-
Jazeera via satellite television and shortwave radio.
3. For foreign radio broadcasters, Nigeria represents
two distinct audiences divided largely by language and
geography. Roughly half of Nigeria's population lives
in northern Nigeria, speaks Hausa as a first language,
or uses Hausa as a second language or lingua franca.
This group is predominantly Muslim while southern
Nigeria is largely English speaking and Christian.
While many southern Yorubas are also Muslim, Islamic
scholars (and Nigerians Muslims themselves) make a
clear distinction between Yoruba Muslims and those from
the north. Thus, BBC and VOA have English as well as
Hausa language programs to cover northern audiences
while English programming is more popular in the south.
4. There are differences between how elites process
information and effective strategies to influence elite
opinion, and how average Nigerians get their
information and formulate opinions. USG-to-GON
influence strategies are only partially successful in
Nigeria, as Nigerian public officials are very
dependent on the opinions of other African government
officials, pay real attention, and envy the success
stories of other African and non-aligned countries.
Nigeria has a large ego, and the peer review mechanism
is an important self-assessment and policy formulation
toll in Nigeria. For contentious issues between the
USG and Nigeria, we should look to respected
intermediaries and messengers who are held in high
esteem by Nigerian officials - either distinguished
African-American, or distinguished Pan-African non-
governmental American leaders as well as other African
officials who enjoy access in Nigeria. Regardless of
what they hear from the media, average Nigerians place
great stock in opinions of local religious and
traditional leaders as well as youth militant leaders,
and can be influenced (both positively and negatively)
by such people. In both the north and south,
traditional and religious leaders play an increasingly
important role as one moves away from urban centers and
as literacy levels decline. In the oil-producing Niger
Delta region, voices from militant youth leaders are a
force to be reckoned with. End introduction.
The Media Environment in Nigeria
5. The media environment in Nigeria is remarkably
complex, with sharp north-south differences. In both
the north and south, however, radio remains the means
by which most Nigerians hear news. The government
regulates the national television and radio airwaves
through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) a
nominally independent body. The federal government-
owned Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and
the National Television Authority (NTA) are Africa's
largest radio and television networks. They operate
stations in the state capitals and have two "autonomous
stations in Lagos and Abuja. In addition, the
Government of Nigeria sponsors the Voice of Nigeria
(VOA), which broadcasts news and feature stories about
Nigeria within the country as well as outside Nigeria
to neighboring West African nations and South Africa,
where many Nigerians live. Africa Independent
Television (AIT) and Raypower radio have the widest
reach via satellite amongst the licensed private
broadcast operations. Other private stations are
mostly based in the urban cities of Lagos, Abuja,
Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano, Benin, Obosi, Abeokuta and Port
Harcourt with a largely southern following.
Commercially, NTA, MITV, AIT, Minaj, and Channels are
available within Africa via satellite, while U.S.
satellite subscribers may receive AIT broadcasts. The
top leading Nigerian newspapers in the south includes
"The Sun," "Guardian," "ThisDay," "Vanguard," "Daily
Independent," "Tribune," and "Champion" while "Daily
Trust," "Gaskiya," and "Al-Mizan" are the widest
circulating papers in the north.
Information Sources
6. In the north, radio is particularly important in
reaching large audiences, and the Hausa language
broadcasts are very popular. Both Nigerian and foreign
stations, BBC, VOA, DW, Radio Iran inclusive, have
large listenerships. Because of the north's relative
low literacy rate and lack of development, television,
especially English language broadcasts, does not yet
reach large audiences. But satellite broadcasts -- not
only BBC and CNN but also Arabic-language stations from
the Middle East -- reach and influence the elite.
Cable television subscriptions and free to air
decoders, bringing international stations to Nigerian
viewers by satellite, have become more important in
affluent communities, especially in the north. Local
language and ethnically based papers are important in
both the north and the south. Aside from traditional
media, a broad category of other information sources
also includes influential teachings in the mosques,
churches, Sunday schools and Islamic schools. Some of
the opinions in circulation come from visiting scholars
and clerics, and are a particular source of influence
in an increasingly illiterate northern Nigeria. There
is a sector of sponsored pro-Islamic information
sources with grassroots influence that is primarily
religious and anti-U.S. in character. Some of them,
especially the pro-Islamic sponsored literature,
pamphlets and hand bills exploit the Hausa language to
build a large readership. Internet chat groups are
also influential with the elite and political class
such as and
which has become very
influential with northern intellectuals, labor leaders,
northern Muslim/Christian youth activists, Civil
Society and NGO leaders as well as student groups.
Christian organizations in the south are a large force
for mobilizing crowds but are not generally viewed as
political actors; parishes actively discourage
political messages.
Who matters in Nigeria?
7. It is important to distinguish between influential
political actors that are within the government and
those outside it. Those in government influence
policies and are respected for the positions they
occupy, but they may not have the same clout after
vacating their offices. Conversely, there are retired
military leaders and political actors whose opinions
remain crucial to policy decisions well after they had
left the government. Top political party leaders,
religious leaders, labor leaders, traditional rulers,
youth leaders, and academics have varying levels of
influence in the government's decision making process.
Retired past military leaders still retain significant
influence while Muslim clerics are the most influential
in northern Nigeria. Journalists are important in
informing the public and mobilizing public opinion, but
have little direct influence as individuals.
Those in government
---President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo makes the decisions. The president has
severally denied any third term, self-succession plan.
Obasanjo is serving his second term as a democratically
elected leader since May 1999, having served previously
as the only Nigerian military Head of State who
voluntarily handed over to a democratic government in
1979. Obasanjo has a large ego and an ambition for
global statesmanship.
---Atiku Abubakar
Abubakar is the current vice president of Nigeria.
Born on November 25, 1946 at Jada, Adamawa State,
Abubakar is reportedly working assiduously hard to take
over from President Obasanjo in 2007. Although, his
ambition may face some hiccups, observers believe he
has all it takes to be the next Nigerian president -
power, money, influence and political connections.
Abubakar came to the Nigerian political scene in the
1990s as a prominent member of the Peoples' Democratic
Movement (PDM), an influential national political
association founded by late Musa Yar'adua. PDM
eventually became one of the associations that formed
the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998.
Abubakar was elected Governor of Adamawa State in 1998
before President Obasanjo nominated him as Vice
President during 1999 presidential elections. They
were reelected in 2003.
---Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu
Ribadu has been the Chairman, Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (since 2003).
Ribadu was likely appointed to his post by President
Obasanjo because of his reputation as a formidable and
hard-nosed financial fraud police inspector and his
personal connections to several members of Obasanjo's
economic team. Described as dedicated but at times
arrogant, Ribadu has won kudos from GON officials and
the press for his aggressiveness in pursing economic
criminals. He has often tested the limits of his
authority, ruffling feathers inside and outside the
A mid-level bureaucrat before his appointment to the
EFCC, Ribadu was the Head of the Legal and Prosecution
Department of the Nigerian Police. He joined the
Nigeria Police in 1986 as an Assistant Superintendent
of Police, climbing the ladder to become Deputy
Superintendent (1992), Superintendent (1995), Chief
Superintendent (1998) and Assistant Commissioner
Ribadu was born in Yola, Adamawa State on November 11,
1960. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree at the
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1980-1983) and
proceeded to the Nigerian Law School where he was
called to the Bar in 1984.
---Mr. Bode Agusto
Mr. Agusto has been the Director General/Adviser in the
Budget Office of the Federation (since 2003).
Taciturn and no-nonsense, Olabode (Bode) Agusto, was
likely appointed to his post by President Obasanjo to
add further credibility to the GON's new economic team.
He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1981,
obtaining the third prize in the overall order of
merit. Agusto then worked with Price Waterhouse in
Lagos and London as an auditor, tax consultant and
management consultant.
The Director General also worked in Citibank Nigeria
first as an operations officer and later as a credit
officer. Agusto is the founder (1992) and Managing
Director of Lagos-based Agusto & Co Limited, a credit
rating and business information company.
---Professor Charles Saludo
Professor Saludo has been the Chief Economic Adviser to
President Obasanjo (since 2003) and Governor, Central
Bank of Nigeria (since May).
Professor Saludo is the driving force and leading
member of President Obasanjo's economic team. Saludo,
an intelligent, energetic and worldly interlocutor, was
likely appointed to his position by President Obasanjo
because of his international connections to leading
economists and for his pro-debt relief stance. He was
Educated at Harvard University and Cambridge in the
United Kingdom.
Before assuming his post, Saludo served as the
Executive Director of the African Institute for Applied
Economics (AIAE) at Enugu, Nigeria. He was also a
Professor of Economics at the University of Nigeria,
Nsukka. Dr. Saludo has consulted on debt relief and
poverty reduction for the Bretton Woods Institutions,
UN agencies, and USAID.
---Dr. (Mrs). Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Dr. Iweala has been the Minister of Finance (since
A career bureaucrat, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (o-KON-jo-ee-
WAY-ah-la) was likely appointed to her position by
President Obasanjo because of her contacts in and
influence on and understanding of the Bretton Woods
Institutions and her international reputation as a
competent administrator. The Minister joined the World
Bank's Young Professionals Program in 1982. From 1982
to 2000, she worked as an Economist and subsequently
managed the East Asia, Africa and Middle East
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala initially served the Obasanjo
Administration in 2000, when she took a leave of
absence from the World Bank to help Nigeria in managing
its foreign debt, culminating in the establishment of
the Debt Management Office (DMO).
---Dr. Jide Adedeji
Dr. Adedeji is an entrepreneur, scientist, innovator
and business owner with strong interest in value added
agro-industrial business enterprises in Africa. He is
the President of Honeydrop Foods Incorporated in New
Jersey, USA.
He recently completed method and process
development of two unique and exotic
tropical fruit flavors that have
extraordinary commercial potential as a
flavor ingredient in flavor
formulations, beverages and food
Dr. Adedeji has a Ph.D. and masters degree in Food
Science from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New
Jersey. He has a Master of Science degree and
postgraduate Diploma in Food Science and Technology
from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a bachelor's
degree in Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition from
the same institution.
---NasirAhmed El-Rufai
El-Rufai has been the Minister of the Federal Capital
Territory (since 2003)
El-Rufai, who served as President Obasanjo's effective
and often publicly maligned Director-General of the
Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from November 1999
to May 2003, is considered one of the GON's ablest
technocrats. El-Rufai is a key and influential member
of Obasanjo's economic team and was a driving force in
preparing the GON's National Economic Empowerment
Development Strategy (NEEDS) program.
Nasir El-Rufai has worked in various fields in the
private sector, including Telecommunications and
Construction. His first professional experience in the
public sector was his appointment as a member of the
Program Implementation Monitoring Committee (PIMCO)-a
think tank in the office of the Head of State (1998-
Born on February 16, 1960, El-Rufai attended Ahmadu
Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained First Class
Honors in Quantity Surveying (1980) and a Masters of
Business Administration (1984). He also attended the
Harvard Business School, Management Program (1994-
1998/2001) and the Arthur D. Little School of
Management, earning a Certificate in Privatization
Senate President Ken Nnamani
Senator Nnamani presides over Nigeria's upper
legislative house. By Nigerian official ranking, he is
the third in the hierarchy of government. He was
elected as Senate President on April 5 2005. Nnamani
holds an MBA from Ohio University, Athens, USA. He was
a businessman and industrial consultant before trying
his hands in politics.
Speaker Aminu Masari
Representative Masari heads the lower legislative
house. He is the fourth ranking official in Nigeria.
He was elected speaker in 2003.
Obong Ufot Ekaette
Ekaettee has been the Secretary to the Government of
the Federation (since 1999). He heads the cabinet
secretariat and coordinates activities of all cabinet
members. He was born on April 17, 1939 in Ikot Edor,
Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He
attended King's College, Lagos and later University
College, Ibadan, where he graduated with B.Sc (Honors)
in Economics in 1964 with a distinction in Development
Political Heavy Weights outside Government
---General Muhammadu Buhari
General Buhari is a retired General, former military
head of state and presidential candidate of Nigeria's
largest opposition party, ANPP in the 2003 elections.
Although, he lost the elections amid allegations of
widespread irregularities, Buhari is still very popular
with the grassroots especially in the Northern part of
Buhari received his military training at the Nigerian
Defense Academy (NDA), Kaduna Nigeria, Mons Officer
Cadet School, Adershot, United Kingdom, Defense
Services Staff College, Wellington and USA Army War
---General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
General Babangida, retired General and former Head of
State remains an influential figure in the Nigerian
political scene since he quit government after
annulling the controversial 1993 elections. Born in
1941, Babangida joined the Nigerian army in 1962 and
retired in 1993. He had his military training at the
Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA), Indian Military Academy
(1964), Royal Armored Center, United Kingdom (1966),
Army Armored School, USA (1972-73), Command and Staff
College, Jaji, Nigeria (1977) and Senior Defense
Management Course, Naval Postgraduate, USA (1980).
---Chief Tony Anenih, Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees
Anenih is the current Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees.
Believed to have the ears of president Obasanjo who
once appointed him Minister for Works and Housing,
Anenih is undoubtedly Obasanjo's political strategist
and tactician. Nigerians sometimes read Anenih's lips
to know Obasanjo's mood.
Anenih was born on September 25, 1941 in Uromi, present
day Edo state. A chartered accountant, Anenih was
trained in Nigeria and Great Britain. He later joined
the Nigerian Police force where he rose to the post of
an Assistant Commissioner before he went into private
---Chief Chukwuemeka Anyaoku
Traditional/Religious Leaders
---Sultan Muhammadu Maccido
Maccido is the Sultan of Sokoto. By official
recognition, Sultan of Sokoto is the highest ranking
Muslim leader in Nigeria, combining both religious and
traditional roles. Therefore, the Sultan represents
not only all the Muslims in Nigeria but he is also the
highest raking traditional ruler in the North. As the
reigning Sultan, Maccido is both the president of the
Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and Supreme Council of
Islamic Affairs (SCIA), two most important Muslim
organizations. Sultan Maccido was born in 1926 and was
appointed Sultan on April 21, 1996 following the
deposition of Sultan Dasuki by the Abacha regime.
---Cardinal Anthony Okogie
Cardinal Okogie is the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos. He
is one of the vocal Christian leaders in Nigeria.
Okogie was born on June 16, 1936 in Sapele, Delta
state. He was educated in Lagos and Rome and was
ordained Catholic priest on December 11, 1966. On June
5, 1971, he was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Lagos and
ordained Bishop on August 29, 1975. He became an
archbishop on April 13, 1973.
Alhaji Ado Bayero
Bayero is the Emir of Kano. A retired police officer,
diplomat, administrator and traditional ruler, Bayero
is perhaps the most influential traditional ruler in
the North. Bayero has played several mediating roles
during communal conflicts and he is well respected
within and outside Kano. The significance of Kano as
the commercial nerve center of the North coupled with
its huge population of the State (Note: Kano is the
second most populous in Nigeria after Lagos).
He was born on June 15, 1930 and appointed Emir of Kano
1963. Prior to that, he was Nigerian Ambassador to
Senegal. He served as Chief of Police, Kano Native
Authority from 1957 to 1962. Bayero was a member of the
Northern State House of Assembly from 1955 to 1957. He
attended Kano Middle School from 1942 to 1947, School
of Arabic Studies, Kano from 1947 to 1949 and Institute
of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from
1951 to 1952.
---Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola
Akinola is the Head of Anglican Church in Nigeria and
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Apart from heading one the largest Christian
congregations, Reverend Akinola's position as CAN
chairman makes him an influential religious leader in
Nigeria. CAN is the umbrella organization for all the
Christian communities in Nigeria.
---Oba Okuade Sijuwade
Oba Sijuwade is the Ooni of Ife (paramount rule of the
cradle of Yoruba civilization). Businessman and
traditional ruler, Oba Sijuwade is one of the most
influential traditional chiefs in the Southwest. His
domain, Ile-Ife is considered the ancestral home of
Yoruba nationality. He was born on January 1, 1930 and
was crowned the Ooni of Ife in 1980.
Igwe Alfred Achebe
Achebe is the Obi of Onitsha (the most vibrant
commercial city in Ibo land). Achebe was a member of
the recently disbanded political reform conference. He
represented southeast traditional rulers. Igwe Achebe
was born in Onitsha, Anambra state on May 14, 1941. He
was appointed the Obi of Onitsha on May 10, 2002. The
stool of the Obi of Onitsha is the most powerful
traditional institution in the South East. He obtained
a B.A in Chemistry from the Stanford University
California, USA and an M.Sc in Business Administration
from the Columbia University in New York City.
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