212. Telegram 4100 From the Embassy in Nigeria to the Department of State1 2





  • LAGOS 4067

1. FMG’s wish to put off Secretary’s proposed visit is undoubtedly product of several factors. First and foremost is continuing preoccupation with internal stability. FMG’s negative reaction to visit appears reflect Obasanjo administration’s concern over its ability cope with ongoing internal security problems (Lagos 3822) and those that might be sparked by visit. Although FMG would presumably have wanted to prove “normality” of local environment by handling Secretary’s visit smoothly and without disorder, FMG feared it might not be able to carry it off. Moreover, FMG would certainly wish avoid situation where government security forces could be in active conflict with demonstrators supporting official FMG policy positions.

2. Other considerations, we suspect, buttressed the decision. With [Page 2] Gowon’s status in U.K. still unresolved, investigations of the coup attempt still under way, more executions expected, and xenophobia at a high pitch, FMG leadership may have considered this an awkward time to receive such a high level foreign visitor, particularly from the U.S. Recent cancellation of American Regional Studies Conference, Education Comissioner’s last-minute backing out on commitment to address U.S.I.S.-sponsored ceremony for student essay contest winners, plus continuing press attacks on C.I.A. and U.S. policy in Africa are all indicators that FNG may for the moment wish to maintain some distance between itself and U.S.

3. Lastly, we believe timing of the visit disappointed Nigerians, who had hoped Secretary could be here longer and have greater opportunity for substantive discussions of African and international issues. Nigeria’s position as last in a series of 8 brief African stops may have seemed to reflect insufficient recognition of Nigeria’s position in Africa (as FMG sees it) and the importance of the U.S./Nigerian connection.

  1. Source: Department of State, Lagos Embassy Files: Lot 79 F 43, ORG-POL-3, Henry Kissinger, Pending Visit. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by DCM Olivers S. Crosby, cleared by Robert L. Bruce of the Political Section, approved by Ambassador Donald B. Easum.
  2. Ambassador Easum explained Nigeria’s motives for canceling Secretary of State Kissinger’s visit to Nigeria. He indicated that security concerns were the primary reason, although Nigeria’s wish to maintain distance from the United States was also a factor.