Extract from a leaked cable on Nigeria’s role within Africa:
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.
A/S = assistant secretary
ECOWAS = Economic Community Of West African States
GON = Government of Nigeria