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U.S. Department of State

1964-1968, Volume XXIV

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357. Telegram From the Embassy in Nigeria to the Department of State/1/

Lagos, March 25, 1964, 7 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, International Meetings and Travel File, Africa, Box 31, Harriman's Trip, 3/64. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Passed to the White House.

1723. Personal for President and Secretary of State from Harriman. In long talks with Prime Minister Abubakar and Foreign Minister Wachuku, both expressed great respect for President Johnson and his policies, and manner in which he is giving leadership. They both indicated grave concern over Congo, felt much time had been lost by UN in failing to gain troops and police, and otherwise help Congolese Government. Efforts must now be made to assist Adoula attain stability after UN leaves in June, which will be most difficult. They want to work with us and are ready to consider leaving troops and police if asked by Adoula. Would need, however, burden sharing on formula used in Tanganyika--Nigerians pay salaries but Tanganyikans pay other expenses of troops. They urge we use our influence with Belgian Government as well as Adoula to have Belgians play leading role in every way possible as only country which had needed knowledge and ability. They are ready to work closely with us in all aspects of problem. They fear Soviet and Chinese efforts to undermine as well as Rhodesian, South African and Portuguese support for possible Tshombe military intervention.

Both expressed desire our support in achieving African objectives but showed some understanding when I explained difficulties with Salazar. Prime Minister admitted Home had stated categorically that UK would not support economic sanctions against South Africa. Both indicated however they did not agree with Home and felt it was European and US responsibility to force change.

Both showed a suspicious attitude towards France and French policy in Africa and also resented French failure to assume any responsibility in Congo and other African problems outside former colonies.

They expressed gratitude for our aid and although intend to retain intimacy with UK feel they have much in common with US including growing pains of a federation and post colonial difficulties.

Both minimized concern I expressed for Communist takeover in Zanzibar, assured me that if UK and US gave needed help there was no danger of Communist control. Karume was sensible and Babu was primarily African nationalist and would not permit Communist takeover. When I pressed Wachuku, he firmly insisted he could guarantee Babu whom he had personally known a long time.

They intended to play leading role OAU, and strongly desire Lagos as headquarters.

They have no confidence in Nkrumah and expressed fear, having failed to gain other support, he would fall under Soviet and even more so Chinese Communist domination.

Prime Minister expressed personal hostility to British Labor leaders including Wilson because of their criticism if Nigerian justice on Enahoro extradition case.

My last call was on President Azikiwe who received me most cordially and informally. He then proceeded to read an eloquent statement of Nigerian objectives and friendship for US. (Statement in separate telegram later released to press by President.) In conversation that followed he confirmed his government's desire to assist Congo. Also expressed appreciation US aid and asked me to convey warm personal message of respect and admiration to President Johnson.

Talks throughout showed a sober determination to take leadership in African affairs and strong desire to obtain our support. They recognized need for moderating influence on impatient African leaders. They are prepared to give help to other countries but recognize their own shortage of trained personnel and resources.

Detailed report follows./2/

/2/Further documentation on Harriman's trip to Nigeria and other African countries during the last week of March 1964 is in Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 HARRIMAN and POL NIGERIA-US.



358. Memorandum From Samuel E. Belk of National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, December 30, 1964.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Nigeria, Vol. I, Memos & Miscellaneous, 6/64-8/67. Official Use Only.

The Situation in Nigeria

Both the Department and the acting Nigerian Ambassador (who is a personal friend) insist that press reports out of Nigeria (especially Garrison of the Times) picture the situation as being far worse than it actually is. That the country is passing through a serious political crisis, no one can deny. There have been irregularities in preparation for the elections being held today. The three southern regions (Western, Mid-Western and Eastern), which politically are represented by the UPGA, contend that the vast Moslem Northern region is returning, unopposed, 68 members of the Legislature, and that this is both unlawful and undemocratic. President Azikiwe (Eastern) has held that, in view of these irregularities, the elections should be postponed for a month; Prime Minister Balewa (Northern) insisted successfully in an all-day bargaining session yesterday that the elections should be held today.

Very complicated African politics, in which tribes, religion and economics all play a part, are involved in the situation. The Northern Premier is at odds with the Eastern Premier in whose region large oil deposits have been discovered. In the heat of the election campaign, there have been threats of secession by the East; threats of violence "that would make the Congo look like child's play" from the North; etc., etc. No one believes these threats actually will be carried out. What we are in for is a period of hard political bargaining which, when they emerge from it, should make the Nigerians more aware of the nature of the internal forces of the country than they now are.

As of noon today, the UPGA (the three southern regions) were boycotting the elections and some trade unions controlled by the UPGA had gone on strike. But, according to the Acting Ambassador, who talked to Lagos at seven this morning, much bargaining is going on in the background. He is as much worried about press reports here as he is the situation in his own country.



359. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, January 2, 1965.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Nigeria, Vol. I, Memos & Miscellaneous, 6/64-8/67. Secret.


I haven't bothered you on Nigeria, on a simple premise that if nothing we should do no point in flapping. We decided to take UK's counsel, rather than that of our Lagos man, and not propose any LBJ intervention./2/

/2/Telegram 1107 from Lagos, December 30, recommended that the President send a message to Nigerian President Nnamdi Azikiwe declaring support for the preservation of the federal republic. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence File, Nigeria--Presidential Correspondence)

Latest news is encouraging. The two sides have gotten together; while a long period of bargaining (with perhaps some minor violence) is in prospect, odds are against Nigeria falling apart./3/ Of course it's regrettable that Nigerians will be so wound up in their own affairs as to be less useful on the Congo than we had hoped.

/3/Telegram 02477 to Lagos, January 7, requested delivery of Johnson's congratulations to President Azikiwe and Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on their statesmanship and spirit of comprise in averting a crisis. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-1 NIGERIA)



360. National Intelligence Estimate/1/

NIE 64.2-65

Washington, August 26, 1965.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-R01012A, ODDI Registry of NIE and SNIE Files. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet, the estimate was submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence and concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Board on August 26.


The Problem

To estimate probable developments in Nigeria over the next two to three years.


A. The salient question for Nigeria is whether the federal structure can survive in the face of the many internal strains and tensions. The facts of geography and population assure that under the constitution, the federal government will continue to be dominated by the party representing the tradition-bound Moslems of the North, who are generally contemptuous of the South and unsympathetic to its problems. The southern regions, which are deeply divided along tribal, regional, and party lines, resent northern domination. Some southern leaders cooperate with the North in federal affairs realizing that only thus can they and their interest reap the benefits of participation in government. (Paras. 1-7)

B. The economy is based upon agriculture, the beginnings of a modest industrial sector, and a promising petroleum industry. Economic development is hampered by regional and tribal parochialism, the dearth of essential skills, and a high incidence of corruption. There is considerable unemployment and underemployment. At mid-course in a six-year development plan, domestic financial resources are inadequate, although foreign capital is flowing in, particularly in the petroleum industry. Some modest overall economic growth is expected, but the government will be beset by rising pressures from discontented jobless and urban workers. (Paras. 8-16)

C. We do not foresee any important lessening of the internal tensions and resentments which threaten the unity of the federation. If northerners and southerners continue to think and act in terms of narrow regional interests, there will be serious danger of a critical North-South confrontation. We estimate that the continuation of the federation and the growth of an integrated nation cannot be taken as assured. Nevertheless, we believe that the chances are considerably better than even that Nigeria will be able to avoid a breakup during the next two or three years, through the disappearance of Prime Minister Balewa from the scene would reduce these odds significantly. Over the longer run, we expect a rise of discontent and radical leaders in the South who will challenge and probably replace present leaders and place national unity in jeopardy. The security forces appear capable of dealing with most disorders, but it is doubtful if they could cope with a national crisis which involved interregional or federal versus regional issues./2/ (Paras. 17-25)

/2/The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State, agrees that Nigeria is not likely to break up during the next 2 to 3 years. He believes, however, that the threat to continuation of the federation is not so serious as the estimate suggests. He considers that the estimate does not give due weight to the accommodation to northern predominance effected by southern leaders in the courses of major trials of strength over the past 3 years and that consequently it misinterprets present north-south relations and undervalues the southern commitment to maintenance of the federation. While agreeing that social and economic grievances are becoming more serious, he considers that the growth of southern opposition to northern leadership will be slowed and limited by southern disunity, division within the labor movement, and the weakness of radical organizations. On the basis of these considerations, he also disagrees with a number of related points of detail and presentation in the Estimate. [Footnote in the source text.]

[Here follows the body of the paper.]


361. Editorial Note

On January 15, 1966, the Nigerian Government was overthrown by a military coup. Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and the other junior officers who led the coup, however, failed to take power. Instead, on January 16, Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, Commander in Chief of the Army, assumed power as Head of the National Military Government. His government announced the death of Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

A Nigerian Ministry of External Affairs note of January 20 informed the U.S. Government that the Council of Ministers had "unanimously decided to hand over voluntarily the administration of the country" to the Army on January 16, that Nigeria would continue to honor its treaty obligations, and that it hoped to continue normal and cordial relations with the U.S. Government. (Telegram 1060 from Lagos, January 20; Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 NIGERIA) The State Department responded by note to the Nigerian Embassy on January 27 that the U.S. Government continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the Government of Nigeria, and expected to continue to do so. (Telegram 1573 to Lagos, January 27; ibid.) The Department issued a statement to this effect at the regular noon press briefing on January 28, and added that the question of recognition did not arise.


362. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Coordination, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Koren) to the Director of the Bureau (Hughes)/1/

Washington, January 18, 1966.

/1/Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Nigeria. Secret. Prepared on January 21. The memorandum was also sent to the Deputy Director of INR George C. Denney, Jr., and to Deputy Director for Research Allan Evans.

AF Meeting with CIA Representatives January 18, 1966

AF--Mr. Fredericks and Ambassador Trimble; AFW--Mr. Clark; AFC--Mr. Brown; CIA--[names not declassified]; INR/DDC--Ambassador Koren and Mr. Ekern

1. Nigerian Coup

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] agreed with Mr. Fredericks that the chief problem at the moment was the absence of adequate information on what was happening in Nigeria, the identities behind the coup,/2/ and what the significance was. Current reporting was reviewed as well as the problems associated with evacuation of Americans should this become necessary.

/2/See Document 361.

Mr. Fredericks reported on his discussions with the Nigerian Ambassador whom he described as being a "shattered man." On his way out the Ambassador made the remark that "he was no longer authorized to ask for US intervention," but Mr. Fredericks was not sure what the Ambassador was trying to tell him. The Ambassador was very much in the dark as to happenings in Nigeria and asked for information we might have on the names of people involved in the coup.

Mr. Clark reviewed the E and E plan, and the status of preparations.

Mr. Fredericks was concerned over the role Ghana might have played, or its intentions towards the coup. He felt that Nkrumah would attempt to fish in troubled waters, and in particular try to capture Nigerian foreign policy. Should Nigeria go over to the radical coup the loss to the US would be most serious. He discoursed upon the stake the US had in Nigeria, the biggest in Africa. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] recalled that during the recent Commonwealth conference a Communist journalist had been passing out funds in Lagos.

Mr. Fredericks phrased the prime questions that had priority for intelligence acquisition purposes:

a. Who are the personalities behind the coup and what is their coloration and motivation?

b. Can the Army run the government?

c. Can the Army hold together?

d. What would happen if Ironsi was assassinated?

Mr. Fredericks also thought it important that we determine what we should say to other African leaders, if anything. If Nigeria could fall victim to military takeover, then it could happen anywhere in Africa. The stage was set. What sort of advice could we give the remaining civilian regimes? Ambassador Koren suggested that INR and possibly CIA together prepare an agreed assessment of the situation for information of our Embassies, including whatever advice for other heads of government seemed appropriate. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] gave him a preliminary Agency report on this question of shock waves from Nigeria (see attached Tab A)./3/

/3/Not printed.

[2 paragraphs (12 lines of source text) not declassified]

The meeting then turned to a wide-ranging discussion of the consequences of a really chaotic situation in Nigeria, and the effect on the rest of Africa.


363. Memorandum From Ulric Haynes of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Washington, May 30, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Nigeria, Vol. I, Memos & Miscellaneous, 6/64-8/67. Secret.

Comments on Nigeria Sitrep of 5/30/66/2/

/2/The attached situation report is not printed.


Last week the Nigerian Military Government prohibited all political parties and abolished the four federal regions. This action, taken in a climate of unemployment, rising prices, food shortages, poor administration, increased tribalism, etc., triggered the current uprisings in Northern Nigeria.

Both the political parties and the former federal regions were created and supported along distinct tribal lines. They were important safety valves because they provided an outlet for tribal expression and a modern political basis to traditional tribal homelands. The Military Government's action, therefore, struck at the heart of those institutions which preserved the shaky equilibrium in Nigeria.

It is significant that the current disturbances are well-organized and that they broke out in the North. I would attribute this to the fact that all of the Northern politicians from the previous government got off scot-free. (After the coup, the Military Government did not arrest or detain any Northerners for fear of arousing Northern sentiment over the assassinations of the Federal Prime Minister and the Governor of Northern Nigeria, both Northerners.) These politicians have undoubtedly been involved in covert activities against the Military Government.

Prognosis: Trouble for some time to come, with little USG leverage to influence the situation.



364. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All African Posts/1/

Washington, August 2, 1966, 5:45 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-9 NIGERIA. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Samuel Sloan and Roy W. Melbourne of the Office of West African Affairs, cleared by Officer in Charge of Nigerian Affairs Robert P. Smith, and approved by Trimble. Also sent to CINCSTRIKE, Brussels, London, USUN, Paris, Ottawa, Bonn, Canberra, Rome, and Moscow.

20025. Infotel: Nigeria Crisis. Circular 18771./2/

/2/Dated July 31. (Ibid.)

1. Following July 29 army mutiny in western provinces Nigeria, former Army Chief of Staff LTC Yakubu Gowon (a northern Christian)/3/ announced on August 1 that he had assumed control of government at "request majority members of National Military Government's (NMG) Supreme Military Council." Upon assumption of power, Gowon pledged to continue policies Ironsi government as enunciated in January and made customary assurances to effect all existing treaty obligations and commitments and financial agreements and obligations would be honored. Gowon referred to recent events Nigeria, noted cryptically that "base for unity not there" and said that issue of national standing should be reviewed to see if country can be stopped from drifting away into utter destruction. He stated that a decree would soon be issued to lay a sound foundation for resolution problems which have disunited country in the past. Federal Chief Justice has received assurances from some northern leaders that north would take no action to secede for next six weeks.

/3/Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) Yakubu Gowon, the Army Chief of Staff under Ironsi and the ranking northern officer, was named to head the National Military Government (NMG) by northern Muslim officers and Army units after their coup of July 29. Ironsi and some other Ibo officers were killed in this action. Gowon was a Christian from a small Middle Belt northern tribe. He had not been involved in the coup, but was very popular with the northern soldiers who made up the bulk of the infantry. Gowon had been a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the National Military Government and replaced Ironsi as Supreme Commander with the approval of the majority of members of the SMC. Shortly after taking power, Gowon changed the name of the military government to the Federal Military Government (FMG).

2. At present time NMG appears in control military establishment, particularly in north and west, although structure is fragile as result loss many senior officers. Situation throughout country reportedly generally quiet. Gowon has stated Ironsi kidnapped and whereabouts unknown.

3. Following Gowon's assumption power, in an appeal for cooperation with law enforcement authorities, Eastern Mil Gov Ojukwu/4/ referred to Gowon only under previous title as Chief of Staff of Nigerian Army. Ojukwu said he not consulted regarding terms but had agreed to following conditions for "ceasefire" laid down by rebels: that Nigeria be split into component parts and that Northerners and Southerners should be repatriated to their home regions. While stating his doubts that after events recent months, people of Nigeria could ever live together as members same nation, Ojukwu called for discussions among all sections Nigerian people regarding form of future association of Nigerian people in accordance ceasefire terms. (NMG has subsequently denied it plans to partition country or resort to repatriation.)

/4/Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was appointed military governor of the Eastern Region, homeland of the Ibo tribe, after the January coup. Ojukwu, an Ibo, was a member of the Supreme Military Council.

4. Both US Ambassador Mathews and UKHICOM Cumming-Bruce have made strong representations in opposition to secession of any area of Nigeria. We consider such development would be major political and economic disaster for Nigerian people and severe setback to independent Africa. Approaches along similar lines being made by our Consuls in provinces.

5. MinExtAff official August 2 read prepared statement to Lagos Dip Corps reiterating assurances given earlier by Gowon (para 1), stating that "this govt being continuation of old mil govt, does not require formal recognition." Dept in any case prefers await more explicit indications of Gowon's intentions re maintenance national unity before formally embracing new regime./5/

/5/Telegram 1781 from Lagos, September 8, reported that the Embassy had been conducting normal business with the Government of Nigeria without taking any formal step. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 NIGERIA)

6. So far no reports of any danger US citizens or property. Gowon and MinExtAff have given explicit reassurances of safety foreigners in Nigeria.



365. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Nigeria/1/

Washington, September 28, 1966, 10:57 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 NIGERIA. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Robert P. Smith, cleared by Roy M. Melbourne, and approved by Palmer. Repeated to London, Bonn, The Hague, CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA, Paris, Enugu, Ibadan, and Kaduna.

55552. Ref: Lagos' 2150, 2246 and 2278./2/ Assistant Secretary Palmer received Sanusi Sept. 27,/3/ who presented letter of introduction from Gowon to President and offered following orally:

/2/Telegram 2278 from Lagos, September 27; telegram 2246 from Lagos, September 26; and telegram 2150 from Lagos, September 22, all concerned approaches by Nigerian special envoys to Washington and European capitals. (Ibid.)

/3/Alhaji M. A. Sanusi of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1. He on good will mission to bring personal greetings from Gowon and to express appreciation for USG stand in Nigeria and for understanding of American people and government.

2. Described current situation as difficult but not impossible, expressed conviction that time on side Nigerian unity. Said loose talk re secession had annoyed and upset Gowon. Referred to useful talk with Ambassador, subsequent diplomatic activity, and said denial by Ojukwu of any thought of secession "most encouraging."

3. Declared Gowon had no intention to impose government on Nigeria. This up to people, and until they decide, he had duty to protect country, including minorities. During this "transitional period," Gowon hoped for understanding of old friends like US while time permitted Nigerians to forget and forgive.

Assistant Secretary Palmer in response: (1) Reiterated our deep belief in Nigeria and its unity, expressed sympathy and understanding re current difficulties and said we convinced Nigeria's problems, while difficult, not insurmountable with good will and understanding on all sides. Said we had tried be helpful and would continue efforts to support Nigeria and its unity.

(2) Noted we too concerned at talk of secession and were relieved at denial. We also concerned, however, at other reports of possible "forceful solution." We convinced peaceful solution only viable one in long run and believe it important that all peaceful means continue to be explored. In last analysis, Nigeria must solve problems itself.

(3) Said speaking both officially and personally, Nigeria's problems cannot be so overwhelming as to obscure great potential and prospects it has as nation. He expressed hope and conviction that Nigeria would succeed in coping with its problems.

Ambassador Martins, who accompanied Sanusi, raised problem of minorities and asked Sanusi comment. Latter said in addition to rumors of East's secession, FMG had reports of possible "UDI within UDI" by Eastern minorities. He added that FMG concerned about possible communist infiltration in East, since it found most fertile ground among "labor unions and intellectuals." He added quickly that this fear largely buried by Ojukwu's denial. Palmer reminded Sanusi of ULC's history of resistance to commie infiltration, and ended conversation with expression of hope that dialogue now under way will continue and that consensus will be reached.

Comment: Sanusi made no reference to possible recognition of independent Eastern regime as reported done in Bonn. Presentation very low-key as if going through motions. He mentioned bomb explosion by Easterners on eve Lagos conference but made no attempt link them directly with Ojukwu. In response question re security situation and specific examples thereof,/4/ he downplayed it, asserting it much improved and in any case alleged it greatly exaggerated by rumors.

/4/ Telegram 55599 to Lagos, September 28, reported that Palmer talked again that morning to Nigerian Ambassador Martins, emphasizing U.S. concern at a deteriorating security situation in the North and reports of reprisals against Ibos. He stressed the need to correct this situation or events might be set in motion that could force the East into secession. Martins told Palmer that he would inform Sanusi in New York prior to the latter's return to Lagos. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 NIGERIA)



366. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency/1/

Washington, October 1, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Nigeria, Vol. I, Memos & Miscellaneous, 6/64-8/67. Secret; No Foreign Dissem.


/2/Note: This memorandum was produced by CIA. Aside from the normal substantive exchange with other agencies at the working level this paper has not been coordinated outside CIA. It was prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates and the Directorate for Plans. [Footnote in the source text.]


Africa's most populous country (population estimated at 48 million) is in the throes of a highly complex internal crisis rooted in its artificial origin as a British dependency containing over 250 diverse and often antagonistic tribal groups. The present crisis began to take shape shortly after Nigeria became independent in 1960, but for some years the apparent success of a federal parliamentary arrangement concealed serious internal strains. It has been in an acute stage since last January when a military coup d'etat destroyed the constitutional regime bequeathed by the British and upset the underlying tribal and regional power relationships. At stake now are the most fundamental questions which can be raised about a country, beginning with whether it will survive as a single viable entity.

At this time, even the immediate further evolution of the crisis is most uncertain. In general, however, the country has appeared in recent months, especially since a second army coup last July, to be moving at an accelerating rate along a downward slope with a consequent diminution of its prospects for unity and stability. Unless present army leaders and contending tribal elements soon reach agreement on a new basis for association and take some effective measures to halt a seriously deteriorating security situation, there will be increasing internal turmoil, possibly including civil war.


367. Telegram From the Consulate in Enugu to the Department of State/1/

Enugu, October 18, 1966, 0755Z.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 NIGERIA. Secret; Immediate. Also sent to Lagos and London and repeated to CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA, DIA, Ibadan, and Kaduna. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, and NSA.

107. Limdis from Ambassador.

1. In long private talk last night Ojukwu stated flatly that East would not participate in resumed constitutional conference Oct 24 or later unless all northern troops removed from Lagos and various other conditions met. Ojukwu also said that in view recent atrocities against Ibos, East firmly determined to accept nothing more than loose confederation. East willing preserve "name of Nigeria" but on own terms. Ojukwu obviously considers chances of continued association East with rest of Nigeria very poor and seems more than reconciled to secession.

2. Shall report in more detail upon return to Lagos this afternoon./2/

/2/Telegram 2907 from Lagos, October 18, reported details of Mathews' conversation with Ojukwu. It concluded: "I regret am unable at this time suggest any way in which USG can help in preventing seemingly inexorable course of events." (Ibid., POL 23-9 NIGERIA)



368. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State/1/

Manila, October 27, 1966, 0220Z.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-9 NIGERIA. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Passed to the White House.

4645. Secto 23. For Acting Secretary From Secretary. Regarding Mathews' recommendations/2/ summarized in Special Summary 18,/3/ I think we should be very careful about nominating ourselves as the supervisor of Nigerian federal unity. I do not object to full persuasion in presenting to the East the great advantages to them of remaining in the federation. I would not, however, start applying threats or sanctions of US initiatives as a means of pressure. The proposed West Indian Federation and East African Federation did not come off. French-speaking Africa broke up into far more units than we expected or hoped for. Singapore broke away from Malaysia. We regret all such divisiveness but it is not up to us to go around telling people how they should solve such problems under pressure of US sanctions. I hope the East will not secede; I hope that we can persuade Mfukwu and Gowon to get together. But if anyone is to go beyond persuasion into actual measures, the British and their fellow Commonwealth members should be way out in front./4/

/2/Telegram 3120 from Lagos, October 26, reported Mathews' recommendations that he be authorized to inform Ojukwu that in the event of a unilateral secession the East could expect neither recognition nor support from the U.S. Government and that, unless Ojukwu could give assurances that the East would not secede, U.S. citizens would be advised to leave the East and U.S. Government programs would be suspended there. (Ibid., POL 15 NIGERIA)

/3/Special Summary No. 18, transmitted as Tosec 96 to Manila, October 26, reported Mathews' recommendations and his belief that political and economic sanctions could be effective in thwarting any secession attempt. (Ibid., S/S Conference Files: Lot 67 D 586, Box 59)

/4/Telegram 73734 to Lagos, October 26, sent prior to the receipt of this cable, stated reservations about Mathews' proposed actions, including the threat of the evacuation of U.S. nationals and the curtailment of the AID programs, and stated that any approach to the FMG or to Ojukwu should be coordinated with the British. (Ibid., Central Files, POL 15 NIGERIA)



369. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Nigeria/1/

Washington, November 9, 1966, 5:44 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 NIGERIA-US. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Melbourne, cleared by Trimble, and approved by Palmer. Repeated to London.

82010. 1. USG seeks maintain Nigerian unity because it realizes East's defection would cause grave problems for rest of country as well as for East and because prospects for further fragmentation would be high. Obviously our continuing efforts must depend upon full appreciation by influential Nigerian elements.

2. Department has been giving much thought to US policy in event East should secede. US cannot be expected to serve with UK as guardian of Nigerian territorial integrity if, after long and arduous effort in this direction, a powerful and cohesive section of country should prove determined to disavow its association with rest. Subject has been discussed at IRG meeting in preliminary way. More intensive discussion scheduled for November 17 and will revolve around following general contingency situations and their variants:

a. Eastern Nigeria proclaims UDI. FMG declares East in state of rebellion and attempts invasion of East, in conjunction with blockade, to restore its authority. This contingency presents US with its most difficult decisions and poses most serious threat to US citizens resident in Nigeria.

b. East intensifies its drift into de facto independence without UDI and is coupled with disturbances and breakdowns in law and order in various sections of country. Lack of adequate military capabilities prevents FMG from invading East, but it mounts general effective political and economic blockade.

c. There is prolonged period of continuing drift and uncertainty during which negotiations between East and other regions take place but without any definitive solution being reached.

3. Current approach here to problem may be summarized in these terms. If unity no longer possible despite US-UK efforts, in such environment US must move to protect its own interests, strive for as much stability in area as possible, and seek to maintain its presence in all regions of Nigeria to prevent vacuum which others could enter and exploit.

4. It should be emphasized that outlined contingency approach and brief resume above are tentative pending serious examination. Prior to this on November 17 it would be most helpful if you could give us your views within such a context./2/

/2/Telegram 3675 from Lagos, November 16, reported the Embassy's view of Nigeria's problems. It concluded that the Embassy considered that the Nigerian situation was "not yet hopeless" and that the most urgent problem was to try to help avert the "worst of all contingencies," namely the fragmentation of Nigeria. (Ibid.)


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