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Leaked Cable: An Evening With Ambassador Ade Adefuye

December 23, 2010

USCVRBH006
OUT REUTE
 
FRENGU #987357
ZSE VFRTTTG
NUTBN DEC 10
FM MINFORE ABUJA
TO COUNCILSTATE IMMEDIATE 0000
OWNERSFGN/
INFO DEFENCE HDQ/TRAD RULERS/GOVSUNION
 
Sunday, 05 December 2010 22:45
CONFIDENTIAL STATE 22345
ASUU/NUC
FRSC/SMC/AFRC
ASUU OPC AREWA MASSOB
 
R.O 17543: Decl: 12/04/2035
 
Subject: AN EVENING WITH AMBASSADOR ADE ADEFUYE

USCVRBH006
OUT REUTE
 
FRENGU #987357
ZSE VFRTTTG
NUTBN DEC 10
FM MINFORE ABUJA
TO COUNCILSTATE IMMEDIATE 0000
OWNERSFGN/
INFO DEFENCE HDQ/TRAD RULERS/GOVSUNION
 
Sunday, 05 December 2010 22:45
CONFIDENTIAL STATE 22345
ASUU/NUC
FRSC/SMC/AFRC
ASUU OPC AREWA MASSOB
 
R.O 17543: Decl: 12/04/2035
 
Subject: AN EVENING WITH AMBASSADOR ADE ADEFUYE


 
Classified by: CO GCFR Nathan Badluck 2.4 (a) and (c)
 
1.) (c) An evening with Ambassador Ade Adefuye (AA) unmasked the façade, raising more questions than it answered.
 
I first met Ambassador AA at an event to honor the Top 50 Nigerians in America. I was a presenter while he was one of the guests of honor who handed out the awards to recipients. His job was to receive the plaque, hand it over to the honoree and smile for the camera. For the most part, he did so until I read out the citation for Saharareporters which was honored under the media category.
 
“Saharareporters is a child of necessity,” I said.
Behind me, Ambassador AA muttered, “It’s not true.”
“It came about because the Nigerian media went to bed with corrupt politicians,” I continued, ignoring his comments.
“That’s a lie,” Ambassador AA said.
 
As I spoke, Ambassador AA, who stood a few feet behind me, kept muttering “No.” “It’s not true.” “That’s a lie.”  At first, I was taken aback. At one point, I turned round, glanced at him. Conscious that I was the one with the microphone, I kept on going. Ambassador AA kept on editorializing behind me. His snipes made me remind the audience that “the only countries where newspapers are full of good news are those countries where the prisons are full of good people.”
 
 
Later at the Achebe Colloquium, when it was announced that Ambassador AA would buy drinks for Nigerians at 9.00 pm at the Lincoln hall, I was eager to go for two reasons. The first one was my interest in finding out more about Ambassador AA’s feeling towards Saharareporters. Several times during the day, I heard him talking about how Nigerian government officials on visit to Nigeria’s embassy in Washington DC were always eager to lay their hands on a computer as soon as they arrived. He expressed his surprise that the first site they always visited was Saharareporters. I wanted to know more of his views on the work Saharareporters was doing.
 
My second reason for going was that throughout the day, Ambassador AA was going around telling anyone who cared to listen, that he would deal with the former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell. Some people were worried about the number one Nigerian in America making a spectacle of Nigeria at the international conference. They spent the day calming him down.
 
2. (d) An Evening With Ambassador AA
 
I got to Lincoln hall at 9.00 pm in company of Mr. XXXXXXXX and two others. There were bottles of wine, soda, water and assorted finger foods. Ambassador AA was already there with a few other Nigerians, including his colleague from Washington. Soon after, more Nigerians came in, including the EFCC secretary.
 
With cheese, sushi, cookies flying into our mouths, wine cruising down our throats, several conversations opened up. Ambassador AA decried any suggestion that Nigerian embassy staff go without pay to the embarrassment of Nigerians. “We have enough,” he said. He affirmed that since he came salary payments had been prompt.
 
We queried the ambassador and the EFCC man on how they planned to arrest and try former U.S. Vice President, Dick Cheney. The EFCC man was not forthcoming with details. The ambassador kept saying that we should watch and see the wonder they planned to perform. Meanwhile, a Ugandan graduate student came into the hall and interrupted the flow of our conversation, it provided the EFCC man with an opportunity to sneak out.
 
The Ugandan lost his jacket at the Colloquium hall. In the jacket were his keys, wallet and other personal effects. He asked us if anyone could lend him $20 to pay the taxi that brought him back to the hotel. He promised to return the money as soon as he recovered his wallet.
 
A Nigerian attorney pulled out a $20 bill. As the Ugandan approached the lawyer to take the money, Ambassador AA asked the lawyer to keep his money. Ambassador AA pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to the man. While the man was expressing his thanks and pledging to bring back the change, Ambassador AA told him not to worry.
 
“It’s transport money,” Mr. XXXXXXX explained to the baffled Ugandan.
 
The Ugandan settled the taxi driver and returned to the hall. He had seen the largesse of Big Brother Nigeria and wouldn’t leave. It turned out that he went to the same University as the ambassador – Makerere University, in Kampala. The Ugandan quickly established friendship with Ambassador AA, even joking with him as to whether he had fathered some kids while out there in Kampala. Ambassador AA acknowledged that the question came up at his senate confirmation because of the controversy surrounding the man he replaced.
 
Once comfortable in our midst, the Ugandan told a story of how Olusegun Obasanjo visited Yoweri Museveni in Kampala and wanted to know how Museveni was able to convince the Ugandan parliament to extend his tenure whenever it expired. Museveni told Obasanjo that all it took was to give members of the parliament $2, 500 each whenever it was time for an extension. On getting to Nigeria, Obasanjo decided to give national assembly members $5, 000 each. The Ugandan wondered why Obasanjo gave more than Museveni gave and yet failed to achieve the same result.
 
Mr. XXXXXXX reminded the Ugandan that he asked for $20 but Ambassador AA gave him $100. “It’s a Nigerian thing,” Mr. XXXXXXX said.
 
In all, there were about 15 of us in the room. Ambassador AA’s colleague from Washington DC complained about the apathy of Nigerians, noting that they would not even come to eat. “This is your tax money o,” she said. “Y’all must finish it.”
 
It was the first time I heard a Nigerian government official use the term tax money to refer to money from Nigeria’s treasury. They usually call it national cake; baked inside the soil of the Niger Delta. I guess she stayed too long in South Africa before coming to the embassy in Washington DC.
 
As we went further into the night, discussion merged into how to work with the embassy for the mutual benefit of Nigerians in America. From the embassy perspective, it was more of JFK’s think-not-what-your-country-can-do-for-you, but-what-you-can-do for-your-country. When it was brought to his notice, Ambassador AA commended the Nigerian lawyer for the articles he wrote repudiating a foreigner who attacked Nigeria.
 
I wondered aloud if by accepting the drinks it meant that we would now vote Goodluck Jonathan for president. Ambassador AA did not find it funny. He warned me that he would not grant me an interview if I made any more of such comments.
 
By midnight, everyone was eager to retire to their rooms in preparation for next day’s session when Nigeria would take center stage at the Colloquium. There were assortments of drinks and snacks left behind as people retired. This writer made sure that two bottles of wine were not left behind.
 
The cost of the drinks and snacks came to a little over $1000 dollars. Ambassador AA’s colleague took care of the bill without any sweat.
 
 3. ® Performance at Nigerian Sessions:
 
After a panel discussion on the recovery of Nigerian loot stashed abroad, I watched with shock as Ambassador AA pushed away Niger Delta activist, Miss Annkio Briggs, who was first on the line to ask questions. Ambassador AA took the microphone to warn former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell. “We shall confront him in the next session. By the time we finish with him, he will see that Nigeria is not on the brink,” AA said. On Saharareporters, Ambassador AA said that the young man, Sowore, is full of passion for Nigeria. He grumbled about Sowere’s approach to political actors. Then Ambassador AA conceded, “He keeps them on their feet.”
 
When the opportunity to deal with John Campbell came during the discussion on the Niger Delta, Ambassador AA arranged with the moderator, Prof. Mobalaji Aluko, to speak last instead of following the normal sequence of the colloquium. At the end of all the maneuvering, Ambassador AA had nothing to say other than, “I agree with what everybody said… Militancy is an accumulated expression of frustration. There is a reason for what those guys are doing.”
 
4. (g) Comment:
 
From all indications, the Nigerian embassy in the U.S. is swimming in cash. Ambassador AA has no problem deploying the cash. This Post is not yet sure of whose goal he intends to advance. That is a $50,000 question. His aggressiveness in seeking every opportunity to say that the corporate existence of Nigeria is sacrosanct; that Nigerians are determined to live as one people; and that those who dare to suggest that Nigeria will collapse are arriving at mischievous conclusions. These are all indications that he is good at the job he was sent to Washington to do. The jury is still out as to whether he is more than just a rat that has mastered the act of blowing air at the wound while biting its victim.
 
He comes across as the Tariq Azizi of Nigeria. While there is a change in tone in Washington, the government has not made any change in its action. The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta continues to wipe out villages while the ambassador in Washington is publicly saying that force is not the solution.
 
For the first time in the history of the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC, a real Nigerian is resident as the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States. On the surface, that could be seen as a good thing. But in reality, it is really a dangerous thing. The Nigerian progressives are in danger of accepting the man at the embassy as an ally. In actual fact, he performs the same old mission of ambassadors –  spy for the government that sent him and lie to the government that hosts him. The additional danger in having this kind of emissary is that he is good at penetrating the inner circles of the Nigerian communities under false pretenses.
 
We are watching Ambassador AA with caution. We, at this Post, stand on this summation until proven otherwise. Mr. XXXXXXXXX agrees fully with this conclusion. He wasn’t swayed by Ambassador AA’s unprovoked suggestion that he was responsible for Emeka Anyoku’s appointment as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth. When not pandering to his audience, he appears to be condescending.
 
There will be more on this in subsequent cables.
 

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