73. Telegram From the Consulate General at Lagos to the Department of State 0
158. Personal for Dillon from Harriman. Please repeat substance to Senator Kennedy confidentially. Fourth message. Am impressed by stability of situation in Nigeria. Government officials I have met seem mature with clear concept of their policies after independence. Prime Minister Abubakar 1 was unequivocal in his determination to stick to democratic institutions and firm relations with west. He does not like the terms non alignment or neutrality as he considers himself committed to western ideals. “They are the same as those of Nigeria” he stated. He will not however join any power bloc “as matter of routine.” He understands dangers from Communism and is concerned by increasing Russian and Commie influence in Congo. He is champing at the bit for independence and UN membership in order to exert counter influence in Congo. He has already selected strong Ambassador to send. As the largest and strongest country in West Africa, he feels responsibility to exert leadership towards stability in West African area. He is annoyed with Nkrumah because of his personal ambitions and therefore difficult to work with. He is also worried about Russian influence in Ghana. He expressed certain sympathy for Sekou Toure since French, British and US had turned our back on him. He believes he is not lost if we can give him some help. He has confidence in Houphouet-Boigny. He wants increased American aid and hopes [Page 222] fact that Nigeria has no communism threat will not make this more difficult. He wants aid direct from US rather than through UN as he has confidence in America and wants to develop close relations. He values also close British ties. This same view was expressed by Akintola, Premier of Western region who said that poverty and disease are greater threat than commie activity. They consider aid in higher education first priority, then industrial development, expansion of power, transportation, and private investment. Ministers foresee movement from farms to cities as agricultural methods improve. Therefore planning for jobs and housing is essential.
Although differences between three regions will cause some internal strains in Nigeria, I feel more confident that West Africa can be held to west since my visit here. I have tried to get some indication of order of magnitude of aid desired over next five years but ministers decline to guess until plans now under way are completed. One longrange project is considered important, namely, upper Niger triple-purpose dam—power, navigation and irrigation—roughly estimated to cost around 150 million dollars. They hope steel mill will prove economically feasible to attract outside public and private financing to utilize the brown iron and coal deposits. Also oil refinery to process their increasing oil production. Otherwise they foresee need largely for smaller consumer food processing industries for which they want to interest foreign private capital.
I am impressed with value of potential leadership of Nigeria in West Africa providing we give adequate helping hand under present friendly atmosphere and favorable conditions.
I leave for Brazzaville and Leopoldville today. I will return via Paris for engagement with De Gaulle on September 15. I have also been asked by Heath to stop in London which I hope to do before going to Paris.