Friday 31 December 2010

The empires of the clouds

Veering due to light

We are flying due south veering a bit to the right and through the castles in the sky, the monuments of aerated vaporification that would put architectures of renown to shame, the lights barge in flooding our sights to blindness from the left, ample proof that the sun does rise in the East.

Looking through the windows to the West these edifices of life forms we are yet to communicate with are as we look beyond them to some distant interstellar sister of our earth, their waste is rained upon us the sewers whilst we think our sewerage is the only exhaust for the unwanted on earth.

The empires war with each other and as they clash, we see lightning, new kingdoms are formed and rulers hailed with roars of adulation but we hear thunder.

Whether it is weather

Their Greco-Roman wrestling, the sport of gods – the stamping and rolling around on the ground are tornadoes with the maddest of our species chasing after them a thrill that might breed tragedy if a foot fell out of the circle.

The season of banquets rarely occur on land for there are no halls large enough for the feasts, in the East and the West, our Pacific which is rarely at peace and our Atlantic in which is buried that Utopian city, their tables are so laden with food and we see depressions.

The party starts small and it grows into a frenzy of wanton debauchery and reckless abandon, drink being guzzled faster than a whale fish could fill its mouth, we cannot call them to order, they are rotten neighbours that the council dare not threaten, at their mercy we give them names and one party called Katrina was probably the Golden Jubilee but our sewers and drainage failed for woefully.

Our place and places

We are junior partners on this landscape and yet our birds of fuel can cut through them we feeling turbulence and they probably grabbing on the clothes we just pulled off the clothes line in their gardens. Thankfully, their pegs are so inferior to ours but every once in while the story plays back about the maid that was in the garden hanging up the clothes and whose black bird pecked off her nose?

Clouds, a wonder, vapours we never fully appreciate and no, I do not have a window seat, I have been bettered, the lady in my three-seater aisle bought off the middle seat for space and that was not because she had girth, from all points of observation, I am probably bigger.

A Vampire Mocca Grande with Bloody Cream

Too early to last minute

My nocturnal habits must be getting the better of me, the cuckoo will pop-out announcing the unholy hour of three in two minutes and I am sat at an airport departure lounge. Madness!

That is the problem, without the anxiety in preparation for travel in the way, I could well be awake at home now, ready to juggle 4 balls balancing on a unicycle playing a harmonica as if I have just returned from Nashville.

It was all last minute preparations and that was fine because if things had been planned earlier the snow would have kept me for days in some airport terminal unsure of when I would depart whilst I am being fed something between encouragement and discouragement but no truth about the state of things, being in the Netherlands, someone might just have the Dutch courage to spill the beans and face an irate mob.

Disconnected voyages

I had hoped that was what travel agents were for when I planned to visit Gran Canaria and Boa Vista, the latter is one of the Cape Verde Islands - a good swim south of the Canaries when I was told I would have to return to Portugal to get out there – for a few hundred kilometres I was to traverse almost 7,000? Incredible!

So I stuck with the familiar, the known, the usual, the regular and the used-to – Gran Canaria it was for 11 days, the sun having set on the 29th of December and I was not spending the New Year in the Netherlands.

The travel agents never have an easy task of my simple requirements, they had to phone up the chain and out of the loop to get things sorted, things that take 5 days of inefficient pussy-footing had to be resolved within 12 hours or my lightened wallet that had vomited into their coffers will be retrieving every single Euro cent-ime.

I was not doing alternatives, not that I am that particular but then the things that need be done, just need be done the way one wants them done, which is hardly demanding; it stress tests their procedures and highlights flaws in their system.

Surely, a stopover in the Canaries on the way to Cape Verde Islands is a no-brainer.

Weigh me, weigh me goods

In any case, I am flying charter, which is unusual and that is why we are up this early to catch the worm, the complete package had to be picked up at the airport before check-in; allowing for time, I had a taxi pick me up and a van arrived, I sat in the front and when we got to the entrance, it had been blocked off that it required a 100 metre walk to another door.

The check-in was smooth, 21.9 kilograms my baggage weighed, that was me travelling rather light, I have lugged a good 30 kilograms through the system before which loyalties allow but there was a time I had to do excess baggage; the humiliation of having your wares tossed around until you have coughed up those outrageous charges.

I would that we were weighed along with our baggage and surely a good few of us would have our flights paid for in luxury class just by redistribution and compensation, it would eventually come to that and I had better have shares in the gym business.

So tame but very lame

It was too early to exercise priority access through Customs that had set up the shortest conveyor belt they could find, probably because people travelling at that time were not on some business trip.

The strip-tease complete and cane through the system, I sauntered through leaning on everything I could, a sudden weakness seems to overcome me at those times, I am most needing of help and assistance, my cane brought to me immediately and every request to move on is a major chore.

At least it is not Heathrow, after taking off your shoes you might be asked to take off your pants too, the other Christmas someone had contraband or was it fireworks attached to the most sacred crown jewels; I quiver and shudder.

By pants, for clarity sake, I might have used Americanisms at the beginning of the blog but the pants I meant are not your trousers.

I still have not come across those full body scanners, I have nothing to fear though, the myth lives and please keep your thoughts pure. Thank you.

Just after Customs, some people had rated their performance at an average of 8.6, the multi-colour touch screen was irresistible in its draw as my finger found the score of 7; it did not however budge the average, annoyingly, but it gave me much satisfaction.

Free to post

It would appear having fleeced us for more than is necessary to get online the airport is giving us an hour of free WiFi connectivity, the given in most airport lounges except when in Spain – they get all that tourism and still would charge for the air we breathe – shame on them.

I think I have decided to use my allocation in quarters; there should be 45 minutes left of which 15 should help post this then because it is only 3:45 AM, I should go to Starbucks and get a Vampire Mocca Grande with bloody cream because it is that time of the day.

Another hour to boarding as I think of the sun caressing my ebony … sorry, that was a line for my X-rated story.

Monday 27 December 2010

Nigeria: Journalism, law deaths and swimming

Poor journalism

One should tire about Nigerian journalistic practices that have a tendency to plumb the depths of the unschooled, badly edited and thoroughly lacking in quality and finesse.

The headline in this case announces [1] the unfortunate assassination of an ex-chairman of a state bar association close to his home, that in itself is a story that can be developed into details of the event, the on-going investigation, the possible suspects and tributes from peers and other notable people.

However, interspersed in this news story is that of the unfortunate death by drowning of another female lawyer who happened to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) meeting her demise when attempting the rescue of her aide who got into trouble in the waters of the Bar Beach.

The tenuous connection between the assassination and the sad deaths is they were lawyers, besides that, there are sketchy details about the murder and advanced preparations for the internment of the SAN, then tributes to her and the story concludes having completely digressed from the headline bordering on the peddling of false information.

This is a report filed by two reporters or correspondents and what could have been two distinct stories has been conflated into one running thread of barely and tenuous related issues that share the sparse commonality of death and law – appalling.

Beaches, swimming and lifejackets

However, the main reason for this blog touches on another serious issue; tributes were paid to the SAN and prominent amongst those eulogies was one from the human-rights lawyer Femi Falana, it is important that I quote him verbatim, “The deceased was a brilliant lawyer. It is a big shame that on a yearly basis people get drowned on Lagos beaches due to failure of government to provide lifesaving jackets. I hope that the NBA will take advantage of this unfortunate incident to demand that all the beaches in the country are equipped with lifesaving jackets.”

This raises a whole range of issues that I must take this opportunity to address before the situation cools down in readiness for another unfortunate tragedy.

This SAN’s firm chose a beach for their end-of-year party, the presence of water means people might well go skinny-dipping or swimming. Nigerians in general are not natural swimmers, [References below explore that topic of Black African Americans not being able to swim.] we generally exhibit a fear of water except for those who have lived near rivers, lakes or beaches from childhood and have the fishing trade or something related in their family.

The aeration of the water baby

Rationally, irrationally or superstitiously, water either deep or raging is best observed from afar, I could have learnt to swim just before I was a teenager when we broke out of boarding school to play in the river not too far away until one day an animist priestess dressed in white wraps came to the banks of the river and appeared to walk on water, that was the last time we went there.

In fact, at Easter in 1976, I was thrown into the waters of Bar Beach by my uncles and I somehow came back to dry land a little worse for wear.

Years ago, my partner was able to persuade me to take swimming classes but at the first class, I was the big baby with floats and there never was a second lesson, the desire remains, the will is weak and it remains a fantasy but I would not use my fantasy and dreaming of swimming to exact a false reality on myself.

In any case, nothing is said about the swimming ability of the aide who got into difficulty and if the SAN was a swimmer at all, it is doubtful she was a strong swimmer at best and her judgment of her abilities might have been beclouded by the sight of the aide in distress.

Evidently, other members of the party probably knew that they could not swim and hence maybe were not involved in the rescue attempt of either ladies.

Lifeguards are what we need

That brings us back to Femi Falana’s statement, I doubt the issue is about life jackets because you will only be compelled to wear life jackets for safety reasons if you were on a boat and could not swim. Whilst there might be life buoys and tyres to throw out to people from the beach or boats, I doubt that in itself would have saved the day.

What the beaches require are life guards, people who are strong and able swimmers who are either paid or volunteers to oversee beaches and react immediately when people get into trouble.

Obviously, these lifeguards should be able to get the distressed to shore and perform first aid before the victims are transferred to hospital for treatment and/or observation.

Most importantly, people have no business going into the water if they cannot swim, fascinating as the Man from Atlantis might be, we are not fish. If anything should be learnt from this tragedy, it should be that we seek out swimming classes and restrict our water dunking to pools until such a time that we have built up strength to save ourselves in strong currents and hopefully save others who are weaker than we are in the water.


[1] The Punch: Ex-NBA boss assassinated in Ogun

Other references

Images of Bar Beach, Lagos

BBC News - Why don't black Americans swim?

Swimming history: 'Blacks Don't Swim' |

Sunday 26 December 2010

Nigeria: An analysis of that rigging document

A very fascinating document

Having just read a document, I cannot say if I should be amused, amazed, annoyed or apathetic but I am impressed with the organisational abilities of the Jonathan/Sambo presidential bid vehicle though they could do with using a spelling checker to give their scheming ways a sense of professionalism.

Sahara Reporters appears to have come into possession of what they call a rigging document which from my reading constitutes a strategy to infiltrate, persuade, cajole, compel and suborn the delegate selection process.

Introducing Mr. Fox

In a document titled The Man – Mr. Fox – a PDF file download; probably to depict cunningness and wiliness with the possibility that each dawn chicken count in your barn would have suffered a missing fowl for the table and palate of the fox, this makes quite interesting reading.

Mr. Fox is Atiku Abubakar, the vice-president during the two terms of presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999-2007 who was passed over for Umaru Yar’Adua.

This is a WikiLeaks-type scoop, a whistle-blower has revealed an internal strategy document meant to wade through the cesspool of Nigerian politics, most especially the snake-pit of the ruling party’s delegate congress, though it seems the document was exposed to Mr. Fox’s organisation who has taken the opportunity to circulate it far and wide with the hope that the President’s underhand tactics would be condemned.

And so?

I am not surprised by the content of the document, however, the fact that it has such great detail is progress in terms of planning, organisation and documentation in Nigerian terms.

Just before we rise in righteous indignation against the Jonathan/Sambo Organisation, Mr. Fox no doubt desperately wants to lead Nigeria, this document reveals enough about his person, his character and his motives to show that the exposure of this document is just as much for political advantage than for a free and fair fight to represent the ruling party as the presidential candidate.

One could well say that Mr. Fox is just as Machiavellian in his scheming but has left no smoking guns and dead bodies, but there could well be a cupboard somewhere with skeletons a mile deep.

A compendium of Nigerian politics

This is Nigerian politics, the power of the incumbency, the display, the use and abuse of power and the ability to use power to tease and persuade people to one’s side, none of which makes this right by any stretch of the imagination but it reveals how juvenile our political system is, why it is still about personalities than ideas and how the force of momentum is not created by the discussion or argument but by the herding of the crowd who are sheep needing shepherds.

It is a shame that the document does not have a table of contents or an index so you have to read through 139 pages of the stuff and really, I was left thinking what is new at the end?

Kingmakers and influence peddling

Nigeria is divvied up into constituencies of cohesive aggregation towards key figures in society who can be engaged through other political heavyweights chief amongst whom is Olusegun Obasanjo – who would have thought?

But this gives it context, people who have held power before need to maintain influence by being accorded the role of kingmaker, those who appear to have platforms in the media, in entertainment, in religion, in tradition, in business, in the states, in law enforcement, in the military and even in the judiciary need to be given the sense of proximity to power, feted at dinners, granted audiences with the President, given courtesy calls and every ego-massaging elixir to deliver their support and herds to the door of the President’s ambitions – it is a popularity contest and the one with the greatest numbers speaking up has the best chance of taking the spoils.

In the gift of the President are political appointees in key offices and rewards for those who show unswerving loyalty, patronage is paramount, Mr. Fox does have an uphill battle, he is to be annihilated at best.

The game at play

The issue then becomes whether delegates have an independence of mind to judge each candidate by their merits and potential not forgetting the murky baggage each candidate carries because none has clean hands.

There are many names in this document which might well be souls bought and sold not to talk of votes that are in the bag, money having changed hands.

It is very possible that this scheme would be extrapolated to the national polls in April 2011, I think it is a given that whoever leads the ruling party would become the next President of Nigeria, the real contest is in delegate aggregation, if the contestants are this bad, it simply means we have been dealt a really bad hand.

The picture that appeared last week of the President kneeling before a church leader for prayers and blessing is a political coup if I ever saw one and that is just one tick on Page 44.

Getting the meat out of this

In this morass, one must not miss the gems of wisdom, an understanding of the problems Nigeria is facing, actions to be taken to address them, the reasons the ruling party is losing traction in the South-West of Nigeria - the big revelation being the governors were not performing and contrasted with the governor of Lagos State they were woeful failures.

Whilst the earnest wish of the ruling party is to have quality candidates that become good governors, the grasp on power of these dead-weights has the party hamstrung; the President appears to have no choice but to support every dog in place.

If anything should be learnt from this document, it is to educate oneself about what ideas and policies these people bring to power and the decision to refuse to follow leaders just because they lead, people should ask difficult questions, seeking convincing answers, challenge the status quo and keep out of the mob, if you are in a crowd make sure it is informed, knowledgeable and continually discussing the key issues.

Be sheep no more, do not be herded like goats into the pen just because they have planned to have you penned in there.

Enjoy reading the document but put it in context.

The source

The Man – Mr. Fox [PDF download]

Friday 24 December 2010

Thought Picnic: Releasing lovers gone to rest

Getting away late

The last train to somewhere a long way from home the journey began like that of ages ago but thankfully there was room at the inn.

The arrival will be late and they already know the eccentric and very particular guest will arrive at just the eleventh hour.

The Christmas tree stands alone in a corner, acquired for the memory and set down for the season but decorations are a labour of love, done with the banter of placements and replacements, adjustments made for all sorts compromises of love and harmony, out of the heart and in the company of lovers.

The presents you share are wrapped and placed at the foot of the tree to be opened on Boxing Day for the truly posh or Christmas Day for those who aspire.

Let them rest

As the time drew near to board the train, the expiation was complete, let dead lovers rest, let their memory remain fond but give up the embrace of that which is gone.

Set their spirits free to roam the lands of the great beyond unbound by the grief and the loss of those that were left to mourn. Release them to their eternal repose and start the rest of your life.

The mourning is complete, the living have buried the dead and now remain to come alive again to joy, to happiness and to new loves and lovers.

Like one old flame did say, knowing that strange tendency, not an invite was offered but advice was given, find something to do and done let loneliness become the reality of your being alone.

Maybe one is now ready to find someone new, let the new adventure begin.

Thought Picnic: Has Christmas gone yet?

One beside oneself alone in singularity

Deep in thought one wonders about it all. The comforts of a hermit or the embrace of strange places where you are invisible in a crowd and safe in the multitude of faces that will never be remembered.

It is that season where everyone appears to find family if you have created one or it is close and suddenly you realise, you are alone and seriously part of nobody’s plans.

They are all gone, either for a while or forever as you stare at the same surroundings you woke up in or seek the attention of those paid to make their ends meet, else they would also be with family.

Things have been left undone, unplanned, unsettled and unsure; this is one Christmas that might well be over long before it started.

Deep in thought one wonders, be a hermit or be a stranger? I wonders.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Nigeria: NaijaLeaks and why China is bad for Africa

The cables are still coming

The need to continue to mine the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables must not wane even after the spotlights have moved on, there is much to be seen in those cables and this one must be highlighted.

NaijaLeaks, the Nigerian side of the things in this cable [1] presents a very interesting perspective to governance, leadership and accountability issues in Nigeria.

Playing one off the other

At the end of 2009, the Nigerian legislature was busy debating versions of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which many International Oil Companies (IOCs) thought was not structural or strategic but about asserting greater ownership of our national resources, in ways, this was a disincentive for new investment by IOCs but an opportunity for negotiation for the Government of Nigeria (GON).

Shell Nigeria had brashly suggested to the National Assembly that if the PIB were passed, the “Nigerian oil industry would be dead”, so the GON brought in the Chinese. Considering Shell has the best deal in the Nigerian oil industry they felt they could use that leverage to thwart a legislative process.

For those who advocate Chinese investment in Africa and sing the highest praises of China, this is one cable you should read and comprehend.

Introducing the Chinese in Africa

This is what they did, “The Chinese are very aggressive because they need the oil. They came in with big money, and they were ready with large loans with low interest rates.”

I have to give Nigerians credit for this, playing competing interests against each other whilst keeping control of the process, "We know what had happened in the Sudan and Chad and we know enough about them to know where we want them and where we don't." Then, the person goes on to say, "No one really desires to see the IOCs go when we have worked with them so long. Long-term friendships develop, a lot is learned from them, and we know how they do business.

However, what was most revealing was because the Chinese oil companies are run, by which I think they mean owned by the Chinese government, their representatives in the oil industry do not know how to deal with democratic governments.

The Nigerian democratic experiment can be flawed but the core elements of it are working, efficient, functional and aggressive too in protecting Nigerian interests.

It is not for sale in Mandarin?

The Chinese because of their incentive of cash and softer loans had come to cherry-pick the oil fields and many of those fields were already allocated to other partners in the Nigerian oil industry. The cable says the Chinese acted dumbfounded and I think what was intended was dumb and of the fields already operated by other interests the Chinese said, “You mean we can’t have it?

Therein lays the reason for the Petroleum Industry Bill, to create partnerships and binding contracts where interlopers cannot with their money make us rescind agreements in their favour and the punch line to this episode is, “We are lucky we have a democratic government, under the military, the Chinese and Russians would be here.”

If the Chinese had gotten their way, they would have successfully jettisoned the PIB and abridged our democratic process which is by no means perfect, this crucial bill showed that Nigeria had to keep its nerve and resist the incentives offered to pervert due process whilst protecting partnerships that have existed for decades.

Apparently, the Russians through Gazprom had tried similar tactics and the Nigerians did not like it at all, in fact, it appears Nigerians were more comfortable with the devil they know in the existing IOCs than the moneybag Russians and Chinese along with a willingness to maintain business agreements regardless of alternative business incentive.

Rotten command structure

Interestingly, the labour unions also did not want the Chinese in the Nigerian oil industry, with China featuring in the list of the five worst countries to work for; they do not have industrial relations representatives or formal human resources processes. The immediate supervisor exercises all power without being accountable to anyone and most of the Chinese officials are non-English speaking hindering constructive interaction, according to the cable.

Zambia is another African country that had suffered at the hands of the Chinese and if I recall, the writer of Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo [2] is from Zambia and I do wonder what she has to say about the unions chasing the Chinese out of Zambia.

The issue of corruption is probably moot as well as it is global, but this is a very cautionary note, “The Chinese have no respect for local laws, and they compromise a lot of things, including safety.” According to the cable, “the Chinese were the first to bribe local officials to win contracts and get around local laws.”

This sets a very dangerous precedent in any setup that the Chinese seek to have influence, especially in Africa, if this kind of business practice is norm, we should not be blinded by the idea that the presence of money is the solution to development at the expense of other rather more established capitalist business practices which include the whole spectrum of management, accountability, industrial relations, human resources and more recently corporate social responsibility.

Know how to handle the Chinese

Therefore, it is, “The poor image of the Chinese helps to explain why they never seriously threatened renewal of the IOCs' oil mining licenses.”

Nigerians were playing the diplomacy game with relish and offered this statement from the minister in charge in which he said, “There was never any consideration of selling or trading one firm for (I think he meant against) another. NNPC has a right to relinquish any part of its equity to any third party that expresses interest and it is in that regard that the discussions with the Chinese have been carrying on.”

Nigerians have signed agreements with the Chinese and Shell get 45% of joint venture deals with the GON compared with other IOCs that get 40% and I would suppose the Chinese might be offered a lot less whilst doing well to keep a rein on their activities within Nigeria.


[1] Viewing cable 09ABUJA2170, Chinese oil companies not so welcome in Nigeria’s oil patch

[2] Dead Aid - Review

Newswatch Magazine - The Draft Petroleum Industry Bill 2009

What’s the Fuss about the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill?

The Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill - Part 2

The Cable – With interesting highlighted bits

E.o. 12958: decl: 11/28/2019

Tags: econ, epet, enrg, einv, pgov, prel, ni, ch

Subject: Chinese oil companies not so welcome in Nigeria’s oil patch

Ref: Abuja 2100

Classified By: Ambassador Robin R. Sanders for Reasons in Sections 1.4 (b) and (d).


¶1. (C) Two xxxxxxxxxxxx officials recently volunteered that Chinese oil companies had made a lot of mistakes in Nigeria and neither official welcomed their presence. Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) xxxxxxxxxxxx said on xxxxxxxxxxxx the NNPC is aware of how the Chinese have behaved in the Sudan and Chad and that the Chinese do not know how to deal with a democratic government.

xxxxxxxxxxxx complained on November 11 that there is no recourse when dealing with the Chinese and that the Chinese do not respect local laws. The poor image of the Chinese helps to explain why they were never a serious threat to the renewal of the international oil companies' (IOCs) oil mining licenses (OMLs).


Ruffled feathers...

¶2. (C) Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) xxxxxxxxxxxx discussed the Chinese oil companies' recent attempts to obtain deep water oil mining leases (OMLs) with Economic Counselor and Trade and Investment Specialist on November 13.

xxxxxxxxxxxx said that Shell Nigeria had opened the door for the Chinese by resisting GON efforts to pass the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and telling the National Assembly that the "Nigerian oil industry would be dead" if the PIB passed. "So they brought in the Chinese," xxxxxxxxxxxx said.

¶3. (C) Asked about how the Chinese handled themselves in Nigeria, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "The Chinese are very aggressive because they need the oil." "They came in with big money," he said, "and they were ready with large loans with low interest rates."

But the Chinese also made some mistakes. First, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "We know what had happened in the Sudan and Chad and we know enough about them to know where we want them and where we don't." At the same time, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "No one really desires to see the IOCs go when we have worked with them so long. Long-term friendships develop, a lot is learned from them, and we know how they do business."

¶4. (C) Second, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "Their oil companies are run by the Chinese government and they do not know how to deal with Qthe Chinese government and they do not know how to deal with a democratic government. For example, the Chinese told the NNPC officials which fields they wanted and the NNPC officials had to say, 'No, this field is operated by someone.'" The Chinese acted dumbfounded and said, "You mean we can't have it?"

"The PIB did not come from nowhere," xxxxxxxxxxxx explained. Much consultation occurred before the GON presented the PIB to the National Assembly and all that was not going to be undone because of a Chinese official. "The Chinese caused the problem," he summarized, "and they ruffled a lot of feathers." Xxxxxxxxxxxx added that Gazprom of Russia had used a similar approach. "We are lucky we have a democratic government" he said, "Under the military, the Chinese and Russians would be here."

...and no forwarding address

¶5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx colleagues also told visiting Coordinator for International Energy Affairs (S/CIEA) David Goldwyn and his delegation on November 11 that he and his union colleagues did not want the Chinese in the Nigerian oil sector. Goldwyn was asking about the problems faced by xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "The Chinese are here and that is a huge problem!"

"xxxxxxxxxxxx have a list of the worst five countries to work for," xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "and they are on that list." xxxxxxxxxxxx explained that xxxxxxxxxxxx had experienced a problem with ExxonMobil when they "wrongfully fired a worker." xxxxxxxxxxxx applied pressure through the U.S. steel workers and the worker in question was given a choice of being re-hired or compensated and xxxxxxxxxxxx chose the latter. "If xxxxxxxxxxxx a problem with a Chinese company," xxxxxxxxxxxx complained, "who can xxxxxxxxxxxx to?"

(COMMENT: Nigerian xxxxxxxxxxxx have complained to Labor Officer that the Chinese do not have industrial relations representatives or any formal human resources process other than the immediate supervisor who does the hiring and firing. Dealing with non-English-speaking Chinese officials also hinders constructive interaction.


¶6. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx later elaborated by alleging that Chinese labor practices were not good so no one wants to be part of it. "Look at the Chinese mining companies in Zambia," xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "the labor unions there had to chase them out." xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that corrupt people in China were put to death, but overseas they quickly adapt to the local environment, including adopting corrupt practices.

"The Chinese have no respect for local laws," xxxxxxxxxxxx said, "and they compromise a lot of things, including safety."

¶7. (C) Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Q7. (C) Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) xxxxxxxxxxxx said the Chinese were the first to bribe local officials to win contracts and get around local laws.

By contrast, xxxxxxxxxxxx said xxxxxxxxxxxx played by the rules and was above-board. "xxxxxxxxxxxx proud of xxxxxxxxxxxx company in that respect," xxxxxxxxxxxx said. (See reftel for additional background on Goldwyn's meeting with the xxxxxxxxxxxx).


¶8. (C) The poor image of the Chinese helps to explain why they never seriously threatened renewal of the IOCs' oil mining licenses (OMLs), the first of which the GON signed with ExxonMobil on November 20. Most of the remainder will be signed in the coming weeks.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Odein Ajumogobia told the joint GON-ExxonMobil press conference on the same day that, "There was never any consideration of selling or trading one firm for (against?) another." But he also said that, "NNPC has a right to relinquish any part of its equity to any third party that expresses interest and it is in that regard that the discussions with the Chinese have been carrying on."

The GON owns 60 percent of all the joint ventures with the IOCs (55 percent in the case of Shell). So, the NNPC and the IOCs could still end up having minority Chinese partners -- whether they like it or not.

¶9. (U) Embassy coordinated this telegram with ConGen Lagos.


Tuesday 21 December 2010

Having a sense of fun at 45

Giving thanks a year on

I just read a blog I wrote exactly a year ago and realised that much had changed to that time and much more had changed today.

A new day of reckoning has come, one in which to offer gratitude as a year of long days, which had longer hours and the longest seconds, has past like it was just yesterday.

I write giving thanks to God, to my ever amazing neighbours, to the ever considerate medical staff, to my ever sustaining friends far and near, to my ever supporting family and relations and my ever expanding network of colleagues, acquaintances and what do you call that Internet-based list of the many people who have given, commented, elicited and sometimes abused me on my blogs, Facebook or Twitter?

You all gave me strength, helped my will to live, given me scope to express the joy of living and much more that words fail me in expressing.

An imp colouring my beard

And to what do we owe this day of thankfulness than to the fact that another bleak winter day like the one in 1965 has come again and lo and behold, hardly in a manger and not expecting wise men because it is too foggy to see a guiding star, the boy is 45.

I allowed myself to go unshaven the other day and noticed in my sleep someone had been colouring each strand of hair of my growing beard grey, mischievous imp, wait till I catch him.

I have moved into that bracket of age-based surveys that allow you to tick the box 45-54, I am going to enjoy it as I contact those many others I share this day with, Rachel, Rosalie, Jan and not forgetting Marie of fond and blessed memory.

On this day

Many things have happened on this day as far back as history can record the year of four Roman emperors, the fourth being crowned on this day in 69 AD; and if you have ever been stuck in a crossword puzzle, the first was published in the New York World in 1913; Apollo 8 took off with the first manned mission to the moon in 1968 and sadly a bomb went off on a plane over Lockerbie in Scotland 1988.

An interesting day to be welcomed to earth and you can see what else happened on this day for your entertainment since many would be not be here to share my wonderful day with me for all sorts of reasons.

Thanks and I love you all, you all make my life such a wonderful living story. Did I just take a call from my mum at 2:51AM? Yes, we are that peculiar and have fun too.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Nigeria: NaijaLeaks that did not make the headlines

Lost influence despite historical ties

Back to the bottom of the pot scrapes of WikiLeaks on Nigeria, the NaijaLeaks; the ones that did not make the headlines.

In February 2009, a cable was dispatched with concerns about Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) lack of clear policy with regards to Nigeria; this was specified by “citing Nigeria’s significant financial links to the UK, large Diaspora community, and energy potential.Cable Referenced.

Apparently, with the turmoil in the Niger Delta and issues of corruption it was suggested that the HMG’s capacity for political analysis was both “weak and shallow”.

Now, considering the historical ties between Britain and Nigeria, it is interesting that the Americans appear to have more of an insight into happenings in Nigeria and have a better intelligence gathering network embedded in the country.

Terrorist threats in Nigeria

There have been quite a number of religious sectarian attacks and violence in Nigeria, in June 2009, one cable suggests plans for a massive terrorist attack as the text below shows.

¶26. (S//NF) Nigeria - Extremists believed to be planning a massive terrorist attack: (S//REL TO USA, FVEY) Tearline states, "Unspecified extremist groups, suspected to be operating in concert with Nigerian Shi'ites, Salafiya, or Muhammad Yusuf's Nigerian Taliban are reportedly planning to launch a massive surprise attack on some piece of critical infrastructure or against high-profile targets within Nigeria.

Probable targets of this attack include top Nigerian Government officials or security agents. Members of the general public, who might be opposed to the attackers' doctrines, were also believed to be possible targets. This planned attack is reportedly aimed at sparking sectarian clashes across Nigeria."

¶27. (S//NF) DS/TIA/ITA cannot immediately corroborate the current threat with additional intelligence. While no connection can be made between this threat and previous reports, DS/TIA/ITA is concerned about recent activity surrounding extremists associated with the Nigerian Taliban. Cable Referenced.

It goes on to suggest that a Chadian terrorist might be involved and a number of speculative and circumstantial opinions are proffered which is exposed that the time could have had dire consequences for volatile regions under sectarian tensions as well as created diplomatic concerns with Nigerian-Chadian relations.

The Shi’ite connection also links up with the concern about Iranian influence in Nigeria, most especially with news about arms imports from Iran. [1]

Jobs for life for Nigerians

However, it makes such interesting reading that for all the hard and sweaty jobs some Nigerian people rise up for in the early mornings in Europe and America others are living large in Arabian opulence where the external façade of Wahhabist restraint and fundamentalism gives way to a secret debauched and wild partying crowd of sheiks up to unspeakable conduct.

One cable says, It is common practice for Saudi princes to grow up with hired bodyguards from Nigeria or other African nations who are of similar age and who remain with the prince well into adulthood. They are called “khawi,” derived from the Arabic word “akh,” meaning “brother.” The lifetime spent together creates an intense bond of loyalty. Cable Referenced

A lifetime together almost makes one wonder about the supposed closeness and that terrifyingly nasty case of servant abuse that was in the courts in the UK where a Saudi prince murdered his aide [2] who was believed to be a sexual slave.

The darker tanned Bandar Abdulaziz was probably of African origin and though he did not look like bodyguard material, history of Arab being involved in African slave trade and the contemporary situation of hiring them as sexual pleasure units, bodyguards or servants seems to be corroborated by the cable.

I have had offers to work in the Arabian peninsula and really, I have never been fully persuaded especially if the job for life was terminated with a homicide.


[1] BBC News - Iranian man charged in Nigeria over arms shipment

[2] Saudi prince guilty of servant's murder | UK news | The Guardian

No combs to dress the hair on fire

A snapshot of celebrity

It would be remiss of me not to offer an opinion if not a form of social commentary on the cult of celebrity and the prisoners of that wave of image embellishment or rather pretentious charity.

The news article [1] offers a bit of detail but the 50 seconds of video that accompanies speaks a world about what it shows and it is a microcosm of a glittering and almost tantalising spectacle one that is as attractive as it is debilitating and dangerous.

Mr Sean Combs [2], known as many variations from Puff Daddy to P. Diddy that polite society is better served by referring to his birth name and refuse to be carried away with the razzmatazz is a very successful man and he was in New York to promote the launch of his new album, Last Train To Paris.

Having hired the pent house suite of a posh hotel as hip-hop hedonism allows, the renowned of that genre and ilk had gathered there for a smoke-filled party with an American actor/comedian Kevin Hart [3] apparently compering.

At the hot tub

In the video, Kevin Hart sets the scene; they are nowhere more respectable than at the hot tub fishing as it were for what might be left to your imagination, but there is a “model” sat in a bubble and rose petal filled bath surrounded by lit candles.

We are made to understand that party is female-friendly, I suppose that means there are scantily clad ladies all around that place titillating the men and getting their adrenaline and testosterone levels running high with the scent of wanton debauchery or smell of sex probably created by one of Mr. Combs’ piss-water perfumes.

Kevin Hart might even jump into the bath tub probably to have a wash, surely, as a married father of two children, it is unlikely that it is his wife that would be scrubbing his back at the London as he liberally introduces other "niggers", a word fashionable amongst that clique but abominable to other races.

All hair on fire

I will leave the issue of the objectification of women, the lack of respect for their person, their use for the elevation of the animal instinct towards the Neanderthal man and their function as pheromone secretion catalysts on hedonist gatherings to others to address.

However, as we ogled the lady in the bath whose poise shifted to some rather more provocative pose, her hair, probably conditioned with non-flame retardant chemical caught fire, it took a while for her to notice what was happening and the guests might have been too absorbed in ambience to have the presence of mind to react appropriately.

Then suddenly, the flame caught on and she ducked into the water to quench the flames but the seconds that show that event left me more than just concerned. It did not appear that anyone went to her aid and when Kevin Hart realised what was going on, he was more particular about that event not being caught on camera than attending to the unfortunate lady. They all found it funny, they really did.

Forget chivalry

I can only wonder who that lady was, how she got that job, how burnt she got, what care and comfort she received and where she is now.

Keith Hart’s reaction left much to be desired, but then if we ever expected and chivalry in such a setting, we must have forgotten that ostentation does not necessarily breed class and having a huge profile like this with all the apparently stage-managed publicity and photo opportunities does not reveal the real sense of compassion or humanity the principals might have.

Smudging the image

In this very short episode, Mr Combs could not understand why fire-fighters were called, which would have been the right thing to do including getting a first-aid crew on site with the possibility of having the lady taken to hospital for observation and possible treatment.

Mr Combs was having a launch party and such a distraction could not be allowed to get in the way of a night of revelry, the music played on, everything was under control but the inability to prevent the release of this video and the lady is probably history.

We, the cultists of celebrity

That is the world of today’s celebrity, it is about image and the management of it, presenting a pretentious façade to the world of being rich and successful with foundations helping the unfortunate wherever they might be but not when met with the immediacy of helping a damsel in distress.

These are our role models, our motivational speakers, our figures of emulation and the people we aspire to become; people who shirk responsibility, lack character, denigrate women, men without integrity but money talks and as long as everyone is having a nice time, the lady was at best an annoyance, woe betide her, she was for the record the collateral damage of keeping that image pristine.

The video reveals the underbelly of the odious and the reprehensible and just about the worst of that sub-culture, the majority might however not be persuaded to refuse to patronise such people and their stock in trade because we are prisoners of the cult of celebrity, slaves to the pretentious icon and already impervious to basic human values. I lament.

The longer version of that event appears here [4], you can make up your mind about it, but I did not find it funny, at all.


[1] Diddy-Dirty Money's: Model's hair catches fire at album release party in LA | Mail Online

[2] Sean Combs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Kevin Hart (actor) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] YouTube - Girl Hair Catches Fire on Diddy's Dirty Money Ustream Party + Reenactment

Thursday 16 December 2010

My body will not suffer

From trouble to resolution

Another long day at work, it started at 7:00AM, a simple change that should have ended in 2 hours had us clutching at straws well after 3:00PM.

Whilst we did not have full knowledge of the multi-faceted system, it was quite difficult to guide the troubleshooting systematically.

A lot of people are a lot more computer savvy than I am, I concede that but sometimes the background from which you have come into Information Technology can be of interesting significance.

Very few people I know have come from an engineering background and there is a particular discipline and rigour that is lacking from other fields in terms of deduction, analysis, building and dismantling components of systems, abstraction and other nuanced thought processes about inputs and expected outputs at different stages.

It is almost a frustrating exercise in trying to align the thinking and analysis but I have learnt to adapt, interject the conversation with pointers that might well be breakpoints somehow the picture begins to take shape and hopefully begin to make progress, the key to keeping it moving is keeping it calm and collected.

Anyway, in the end, we deduced where the problem was and were soon close to resolution.

No intrusive procedures

As the day grew to a close the call I was expecting arrived, my treatment advisor called to inform me that after conferences between my medical consultant, the neurologist, the laboratory and the they review of the results, the invasive procedure will not be required.

Treatment commences tomorrow morning and I can rest easy that I do not have to challenge the preponderance of medical opinion just because I asked that they review their original conclusions.

It was a nerve-racking experience for me but I think I had the right premise, the consideration that I am the one most affected by the decisions made, it is my body; researching the condition and the available options to get clued in about what the suggestions are and engaging the medical personnel to review the seemingly unfavourable option for a more comfortable situation.

I am happy about that. Phew!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

I have a Christmas tree

It has arrived

Give me time and the pictures would arrive soon, there are baubles to buys and fairies to mount, mount atop the tree, I meant.

I went downstairs to the forecourt of my apartment block and got me a potted Christmas tree in memory of my dear Chris.

There wasn’t much time for negotiations, it looked good enough and in the mid-price range so I decided to get it.

Being quite a heavy thing the florist offered to deliver it for a price, surely not for taking it to the lift and putting it in my hallway. I just live upstairs I said and then offered to deliver it free walking with me to my apartment.

Unlike the other trees on offer with contraptions and awkward stands, I can water my tree and care for until I go away probably after Christmas.

Never fail to do the things you could have done and enjoyed together that you are left to do those things just in memory of what could have been.

Seize the day

It worked for them

I rarely read motivational books, I have always felt they were like snake oil remedies, people who might have found ways of making life work for thems who suddenly think their shoes will fit everyone else who tries them out and then readers would begin to walk the paths of success their motivational book mentors have charted.

Again, I have always been amused by amulet peddlers who have love potions, lucky charms, money spinning wheels and whatever incredible schemes, you never see them in contagious love, they are always down on their luck and if they could spin money the only positive end of that should be doling it out to charity to lift the ones who lack rather than looking for new ways to swindle the gullible.

Seize the day

In ways, I have charted my own way, learnt my own lessons, experienced my own life to the full and whatever regrets I have; they have become part of my own little narrative that confers a sense of uniqueness on my own tale.

Maybe, I heard this somewhere before, it might have come from the book of Proverbs something about seizing the day, the refusal to allow others create your agenda without consulting with you first and then trying to impose the situation on you.

Hear me out again

This morning I called my treatment advisor and remonstrated strongly about the course of treatment that had been left in limbo yesterday, the serology tests and results are indicative when compared to research findings that the intrusive procedure might not be necessary and an aggressive course of treatment should be commenced.

She probably did not understand me or comprehend my argument and premise the first time so she called again to fully understand what I was saying.

My medical history puts me in an at risk category, the less aggressive form of treatment could result in treatment failure that we might have to review in a year’s time when we could by the preponderance of statistical information of such situations address the matter with the accepted course of treatment that guarantees treatment success within 6 weeks.

It was now left to her to discuss this with my medical consultant and agree a comfortable set of choices I can subject myself to.

With me or no way

Meanwhile, the neurological department called and offered me two time slots demanding I attend tomorrow morning. Now, hardly 30 minutes before, I had been asked to standby for a major change taking place at work to allow for a colleague to attend hospital, I had agreed to that arrangement, I could not renege on that setup to the inconvenience of that carefully arranged schedule.

My work life gives me a sense of purpose just as my medical requirements allow for me to have the ability to fulfil my obligations – the medical condition is not life threatening but it needs attention, however, not of the urgency being urged on me.

The conversation with the neurology department went along the lines of the neurologist can only see me tomorrow and so I had to make the time to which I retorted, the neurologist should first consult me and we align our schedules to the convenience of both parties.

I was just not available

They were adamant but then if the patient is not available it would be interesting if they would send the police to come and get me; now that would be comical to the extreme; they just could not see me tomorrow and I made that quite clear – go back to the neurologist and let us plan a date for next week. My hospital is not a court, they should check my availability first.

They are probably not used to patients talking back, this patient is patient but not supine and it so transpired that they allowed themselves to appreciate my situation and we would now meet at 10:00AM on Monday morning, in fact, I was first asked to choose any time slot in the whole of next week but I deferred to their making that choice and I can make the necessary adjustments to my calendar.

First, it is my body

How is that for consideration, respect, resolution and basically not allowing yourself to be pushed over?

My medical consultant now has to be speak to a good few people and we just have to wait and see if I have to challenge the concert of medical opinion singing from the same sheet, knowing what is best for me despite the fact that it is first my body before it becomes a medical curiosity and if that is my last fight, it would have been well fought.

Nigeria: Naijaleaks and the importance of Nigeria

Searching the leaks

With the headlines items gone and the choice bits taken, let us now pick up the remnants of the Nigerian WikiLeaks cables which are now termed NaijaLeaks and hear the background chatter behind the deafening noise.

With the WikiLeaks search tool which came to me through some indirect reference in my Twitter feed it was only right to search for what else contained Nigeria but was not of breaking news media pervasiveness but still a matter of conversation.

First of all you can find the WikiLeaks search facility at Leak Search and I thank @nubiancheetah for reTweeting @rafiq with the indirect link.

Nigeria is the most important in Africa

Looking at what Nigeria represents, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson was in Nigeria with a message and on a fact-finding mission which included meeting with International Oil Companies (IOCs).

In attendance were the now legendary Ann Pickard of Shell, representatives from Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Schlumberger, Hercules, the American Business council and consulate staff, from what I can see of the names highlighted in the cable, there were at least two Nigerians in that meeting too.

He had this to say, Nigeria is the most important country in Africa for the United States due to: the size of its population; presence of hydro-carbons; peace keeping role in ECOWAS, its seat on the United Nations Security Council; along with the strength and size of its financial markets. Nigeria has enormous potential and is the seventh largest Muslim country in the world with an Islamic population that will eclipse Egypt by 2015. Having no United States presence in Northern Nigeria is akin to having no presence in Egypt and is why the United States is considering opening a Consulate in Kano.

Despite what we know of Nigeria, these seem to be rather profound statements about Nigeria which places it in prominence above both Egypt and South Africa in terms of importance to the United States in Africa.

The failings and the impasse in leadership notwithstanding, one can say those terms of reference have also been mentioned in order of importance, population, oil, regional clout, UN presence, markets and religion, especially the Islamic influence.

The failure of our democratic systems

What is alarming is the suggestion that only 10% of Nigerians saw a ballot ticket in 2007, that is damning as it is worrisome and I hope that the elections in 2011 do aim to have a healthy majority exercise their right to vote and have their votes counted declaring the wishes of the people.

The managers of the election should aim for 70% or better and not just a slight improvement on the performance of 2007, but with the theft of registration machines from the international airport last week, one worries about how much success can be expected.

The assertion that Lagos is better than Cape Town and the most important in the Nigerian federal system is interesting, it is the commercial capital of Nigeria with the administrative capital in Abuja and though it is less salubrious compared to Cape Town, it is where things are happening and changing.

Three state governors in the south had a favourable mention for their work, development and governance and they were those of Akwa Ibom - Godswill Akpabio, Rivers - Chibulke Amaechi and Edo - Adams Oshiomhole, it is interesting that despite the seeming infrastructural improvements in Lagos State the governor does not get a mention.

Charting the course to the right future

Fundamentally, the view of the IOCs is that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is more about taking control and extracting more value for Nigeria’s resources than providing solutions in terms of security, safety and development of the resources.

It appears the PIB is in three versions with no idea of what would eventually be adopted and more damning is the idea that Nigeria can manage its resources with spreadsheets and this apparently inadequate bill. – See cable for more views on the PIB.

Looking to the future the concern is the Nigeria has the possibility of developing into a Pakistan, the parallels are developing are of serious concern and though we are not a nuclear power, oil and religion are just as explosive and capable of creating an ungovernable entity.

To reach the standard of living of Indonesia by 2020, Nigeria needs to grow at 14% a year but that is predicated on credible democratic process, the development of independent and viable institutions that adhere to the rule of law and in my view an sustainable legislature which at the moment consumes 25% of the federal overhead. With Nigeria growing at only 5% and not taking account of the growth of Indonesia, there is much capacity and potential for improvement but the opportunities are yet to be tackled with the necessary fervour.

China for China makes US rethink Nigeria

As for other foreign influences in Nigeria, this is the view they have of China and the purveyors of Chinese investment in Africa better take note of the situation - The United States does not consider China a military, security or intelligence threat. China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals. China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons. China is in Africa for China primarily. A secondary reason for China’s presence is to secure votes in the United Nations from African countries.

However, China’s influence is making the United States rethink its strategy in Africa and it is working all ends to ensure that it remains significant in the Nigeria polity by locating a presence in all parts of Nigeria, in the words of the Assistant Secretary - No presence means no access, which leads to no influence. Without influence you have nothing.

Whilst Secretary Carson did not get to sign off this cable, the conclusions are clear, Nigeria in Africa, its hydro-carbons, its potential and the religious element needs that the United States be fully engaged in Nigeria by all means possible and it comes above South Africa, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan in terms of if its important to the interests of the United States.


Viewing cable 10LAGOS75, Assistant Secretary Carson meets oil companies in Lagos

The cable – with interesting portions highlighted.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010, 08:20

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 LAGOS 000075




EO 12958 DECL: 2020/02/23



CLASSIFIED BY: Donna M. Blair, CG, State, ConGen Lagos; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)


¶1. (C) Assistant Secretary (A/S) Carson met with members of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) on February 7. The A/S stressed the fact that Nigeria is the most important country in Africa for the United States. The IOC members noted that the A/S spoke mainly of issues in Northern Nigeria and did not dwell on Southern issues.

The Petroleum Industry Bill is discouraging future investment mostly in deep-water fields where most of the remaining oil in Nigeria lies. If Nigeria raised the price of gas to two-thirds of the world price, the IOC’s would be at each others throats trying to cut the price by a penny or two. Nigeria has the possibility of becoming the next Pakistan within 25 years. A/S Carson allayed the IOCs concerns of the United States’ relationship with China. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) Assistant Secretary Carson met with members of the international oil community in Lagos on February 7. In attendance were the following: Shell Senior Vice President’s Ann Pickard and Ian Craig; Shell Vice President Peter Robinson; Chevron Managing Director Andrew Fawthrop; Chevron Public Affairs Manager Femi Odumabo; Exxon Mobil Managing Director Mark Ward; Hercules Manager Coleman McDonough; Schlumberger Manager Supply Chain Service Demi Adenusi; American Business Council (ABC) President Dick Kramer; Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary; Economic Officer; Maritime Affairs Officer; Marine AttachC) and, Consul General Lagos.


¶3. (C) Fawthrop asked the A/S whether he was in Nigeria to deliver a message or was it more of a fact-finding trip? A/S Carson stated that he was in Nigeria for both reasons in that he wanted to listen and engage with Nigeria. Nigeria is the most important country in Africa for the United States due to: the size of its population; presence of hydro-carbons; peace keeping role in ECOWAS, especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia; its seat on the United Nations Security Council; along with the strength and size of its financial markets the A/S continued.

Nigeria has enormous potential and is the seventh largest Muslim country in the world with an Islamic population that will eclipse Egypt by 2015 according to A/S Carson. Having no United States presence in Northern Nigeria is akin to having no presence in Egypt and is why the United States is considering opening a Consulate in Kano.

¶4. (C) The United States is concerned about the power vacuum in Nigeria and the state of health of President Yar A’dua, per A/S Carson. The president is “very, very, very, very ill” and Nigerians are under illusions regarding the state of their president. “Nigeria cannot afford to implode or run aground.”

30 years of military government was not good. The United States expects a stable, legal, democratic, constitutionally-based government with no “military involvement, full stop” A/S Carson stated. It is important for the GON to do a better job this time around in regards to elections. Only ten percent of Nigerians saw a ballot ticket in the 2007 elections. If Nigeria brings credibility to its democratic processes, its economic processes will improve.


¶5. (C) Some places are more important than others within the Federal system of Nigeria and Lagos is one of the more important places, according to A/S Carson. Consulate General Lagos is bigger and more important than Embassies Benin and Togo together. Lagos is significantly more important than Cape Town even though the latter is 100 times better in terms of livability. The United States must be in Lagos in a significant way, A/S Carson declared.

¶6. (C) The statements of the A/S sounded wonderful from a Hausa viewpoint, but nothing was mentioned about Southern and Eastern Nigeria, Fawthrop pointed out. The A/S agreed that Fawthrop was correct. The United States is underrepresented diplomatically, economically, commercially, militarily and from a security standpoint.

When the A/S served in Nigeria from 1969-1971, the United States had the Embassy in Lagos with Consulates in Ibadan, Kaduna, and briefly in Port Harcourt, before the Civil war, and also a USIS post in Kano. With the Nigerian population at 50 million the United States was better and more broadly represented in a Nigeria that produced almost no oil.

With an Embassy in Abuja and a Consulate in Lagos, the United States has experienced a “huge loss” in Nigeria today, per A/S Carson. The United States must get back into Enugu and Port Harcourt. “No presence means no access, which leads to no influence. Without influence you have nothing.”

¶7. (C) Akwa Ibom governor Godswill Akpabio was singled out as an impressive governor by Mark Ward. Akpabio has built up infrastructure and industrial development. He is “one to watch” per Ward. Other Southern governors that were highlighted included were Rivers State governor Chibulke Amaechi and Edo State governor Oshiomhole. Fawthrop suggested that USAID has a lot to offer in the South in that if USAID makes a mistake it is OK.

If a private company engages in a similar project and makes a mistake you have a FCPA investigation. The Consul General (CG) added that it might be possible to team up with security assets of the IOCs to arrange diplomatic trips to the Niger Delta. This arrangement would not happen “100 percent of the time,” but more often than not, per the CG.


¶8. (C) The PIB is more about taking control and not a real solution, per Mark Ward. XXXXXXXXXXXX There are currently three versions between the Senate, House, and Interagency committee and it is unclear when and what will materialize, according to Ward. Fawthrop added that the PIB amounts to resource nationalization and stated that it costs more than 40 percent to develop the oil as opposed to leaving it in the ground. The current fiscals of the PIB estimate that is costs 25 percent to develop the oil, thereby creating a disincentive.

If the oil stays in the ground then billions of development money will go away and the resulting slowdown will be a massive problem. The IOCs received a lecture from a team made up of various GON agencies (the interagency team) in Abuja In a recent meeting in an example of the current level of communication per Fawthrop. The whole group then went to the office of the Vice President where the interagency team stated that there was very good communication between them and the IOCs.

¶9. (C) The large fields, elephants, have all been developed in Nigeria per Fawthrop. What remains are fields one-quarter to one-third the size. The same costs are involved in producing the oil but the revenue will be less because there is less oil.

The IOCs need more incentive, not less, in order to develop these fields profitably. What the PIB accomplishes is a disincentive. The downstream sector is very simple in Nigeria in that the refined gas is moved from one tanker to another, to a smaller tanker and then sold. The refining sector, exploration and production sectors are very complex. It is unrealistic for the PIB to try to change all of these areas in one tome of legislation, asserted Fawthrop.

¶10. (C) The gas side of the PIB tries to legislate the delivery of gas rather than incentivize it. “The donkey is tired and beaten. It will not go no matter what you tell it” stated Fawthrop. If the gas price went to two thirds of the world price the IOCs would “cut each others throat” to cut the price by one or two cents.

The rest of the IOC members nodded in agreement to this statement by Fawthrop. European gas competition has gas developed on a cost plus basis adding about eight percent to the cost. The model should be based on rate of return and not forced upon operators by legislative decree.

¶11. (C) Whenever gas doubles the cost of electricity goes up by one quarter. Stable electricity will allow industry to flourish in Nigeria but this will not happen 15 months before the elections. Amateur technocrats run the oil and gas sector according to Shell’s Peter Robinson.

They believe that they can control the industry via spreadsheets and pushing through the PIB. There are many emotional issues in the PIB with Nigerian politicians believing that they make no money on deep-water projects. Potential banker and businessmen partners do not understand the industry. The GON has made USD 2.5 billion with no investment in the past two years according to Robinson.

¶12. (C) A large problem will be the ten percent of equity that is to go to the communities argued Fawthrop. Equity going into the communities will make them explode. The recipients of the monies will be highly disappointed when they see the amount they will receive, a much larger sum will be expected. Kramer referred to the community equity as the “lawyer relief act” and wondered how one defines an actual community.

¶13. (C) Peter Robinson stated after the meeting that Pedro Van Meurs, the oil consultant hired by the GON to help negotiate with the IOCs, is considering leaving. Van Meurs has been trying to show the GON officials that their fiscal math does not work with the PIB.

Van Meurs does not agree with the IOC position completely but sees areas for improvement. One example given to Lagos Econoff by Exxon Mobil Project Manager Anh Tran concerned the levels of cost involved with deep-water projects. Exxon, and other IOCs, maintain that their capital costs are at least 40 percent of deep-water projects while the GON allows for 25 percent capital costs under the PIB. Van Meurs agreed that 25 percent was not adequate.


¶14. (C) It is possible that Nigeria could be a future Pakistan according to A/S Carson. In 25 years, there could be impoverished masses, a wealthy elite and radicalism in the North. The question is whether the oil wells will be dry as well and could Nigeria be on “sustainable and irreversible glide path to a new economic base” per the A/S.

When you look at the 2020/20 plan by the GON you see that Nigeria needs to grow by 14 percent a year to be at the current level of Indonesia Fawthrop asserted. That is using today’s figures, which does not take into account Indonesia’s growth Kramer added. Nigeria is growing at five percent now and would need 20 percent growth per annum in energy and USD 22 billion investment in power plants Fawthrop stated.

What would happen if Nigeria fell just short of their goals, would there be an alternative plan in place Fawthrop wondered? He cited the example of the 2009 6,000 Megawatt goal. It was apparent early on that the goal was not feasible and an alternative plan could have been devised. The GON insisted that they would reach their goal and did not develop alternatives. The same would hold true for 2020/20 Fawthrop assumed.

¶15. (C) The A/S offered that a forum could be organized in Nigeria with World Bank President Robert Zoellick speaking to a wide audience. Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Bob Hormats would be invited as well to lend his knowledge of Africa. The forum would be shaped with the broader picture in mind, not just oil. This would not be sponsored by the IOCs. Members of the business community and individuals that were committed to making oil meaningful to Nigeria’s future would be asked to participate.

Talk would center on “over the horizon” issues, where Nigeria has gone right and where it has gone wrong. Two or three fora would be defined with key people to spark debate. Religious tensions, North-South issues, the lack of capacity in the GON, narco-trafficking, the growing irrelevance of Nigeria, as Princeton Lyman has suggested, could be potential subjects. Nigeria is at a critical financial and political threshold and the entire nation could possibly tip backwards permanently, per A/S Carson.


¶16. (C) What is the status of America’s influence in Africa and how does it compare to China, Fawthrop queried? The influence of the United States has increased in Africa, the A/S countered. The United States’ reputation is stable and its popularity is the highest in Africa compared to anywhere else in the world. Obama has helped to increase that influence. “We must manage the expectations of the Obama administration” offered the A/S.

The United States does not consider China a military, security or intelligence threat. China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals. China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons. China is in Africa for China primarily. A secondary reason for China’s presence is to secure votes in the United Nations from African countries. A third reason is to prove that Taiwan is not an issue.

There are trip wires for the United States when it comes to China. Is China developing a blue water navy? Have they signed military base agreements? Are they training armies? Have they developed intelligence operations? Once these areas start developing then the United States will start worrying. The United States will continue to push democracy and capitalism while Chinese authoritarian capitalism is politically challenging. The Chinese are dealing with the Mugabe’s and Bashir’s of the world, which is a contrarian political model, A/S Carson stated.


¶17. (C) A/S Carson effectively provided the IOCs with a rationale for the United States’ interest in Nigeria and its commitment to the country. This commitment seems more substantial than the IOCs given the prospect of the PIB and the current state of play in Nigeria.

Providing the IOCs with statements of support through continuing if not increasing the USG presence in Nigeria will be important in determining the increasing, decreasing or non-existent role of the IOCs in the future in Nigeria. As the A/S stated, if we can have a substantial presence in Pakistan, why not Nigeria?


¶18. (U) A/S Carson did not have an opportunity to clear this cable before departing post. BLAIR