AGF Malami hire American firms to plant pro-Buhari op-ed in U.S. papers, Premium Times reveals

By Admin on 20/09/2018

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

Views: 270


Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, has hired two American lobbying and public relations firms to plant opinion article favourable to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in American newspapers, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.

Mr. Malami’s action came to light more than five years after this newspaperexposed the Goodluck Jonathan government for spending several thousand dollars on arranging interviews for administration’s officials on U.S. media outlets.

Officials at the Nigerian embassy in Washington have always wondered why administration officials preferred to waste public funds on American lobbyists rather than take advantage of the resources at the country’s diplomatic mission there.

“One of our jobs is to relate with American institutions on behalf of our country, but we are hardly used,” one embassy official said, asking not to be named for fear of being victimised. “We have extensive contacts within the media here . So why our people keep wasting money on hiring lobbyists remain unclear.”

Investigations by this newspaper showed that in the latest case, Mr. Malami, in May this year, verbally contracted a Nigerian public relations firm, Channel Koos, to help him identify American firms that could insert pro-Buhari opinion article in a major U.S. publication.

The article, Mr. Malami demanded, must showcase the administration’s ‘reforms’.

It is unclear how much the minister paid Channel Koos. But the company spent $8,000 of its earning on hiring two U.S. firms to deliver on the project.

The company hired Mount Olive LLC, a Maryland-based PR firm owned by Nigerian-American businessman, Olufemi Soneye, according to details submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice in compliance with the US Foreign Agents Registrations Act (FARA).

Mount Olive in turn subcontracted the job to Prime Policy, a Delaware Corporation, for $5,000. According to the signed agreement between the two firms, Prime Policy was mandated to draft and place “an opinion editorial for the Nigerian Attorney General”.

Details seen by PREMIUM TIMES suggests that the Buhari government awarded the PR contract to “inform the international community about reforms in Nigeria, regarding the rule of law.”

“The agreement is oral stating that Mount Olive LLC should help arrange an op-ed for the Attorney General of Nigeria in a major US newspaper,” the filings by Mr. Soneye said.

“The op-ed is to inform the international community about reforms in Nigeria, regarding the rule of law. The fees is $8000 of which $5000 was to be paid to Prime Policy to market and $3000 for Mount Olive.

“The consultant firm, Channel Koos is working with the Attorney general’s Office as a media consultant locally. It is controlled by the Nigerian government. I was engaged to handle the international media engagements for Mount Olive. The process will be financed by the government to inform the international community about progress in the fight against corruption and rule of law.”

Mr. Soneye explains

Further explaining the reason for the contract, Mr Soneye said the Nigerian government decided to commission the drafting and circulation of the opinion article “in response to allegations of human rights abuses” against the current administration by international organisations.

Curiously however, he added that the opinion article was yet to be published, four months after payment was finalised and the contract was said to have been concluded.

Mr Soneye’s explanation was communicated in an email he sent to PREMIUM TIMES regarding the contract.

“Mount Olive is a duly registered PR, Communications firm in the state of Maryland. We duly received an article for publication on behalf of the AGF for publication in international media in response to some allegation by some international organization’s criticism of the administration’s human rights abuse, according to the brief. The brief was from a third party and not directly from the AGF.

“We negotiated for $8,000 of which $3,000 was paid to us at Mount Olives and the rest $5,000 went to the firm (Prime Policy).

“The article was however, withdrawn as recent incidents have overshadowed it and it is right now being updated and we await the updated article,” Mr Soneye said.

 

 

He however declined a request by PREMIUM TIMES to provide a copy of the opinion initially intended for publication, saying doing so would be a “breach of contract.”

Government’s silence

Mr Malami did not answer or return calls made to him by our reporter. He also did not respond to text messages sent to him.

The minister’s media assistant, Salihu Isah, said he knew nothing about the contract.

“I have also not been able to access any information on your request.” Mr Isah told PREMIUM TIMES.

It is unclear why the minister would spend about N2.5 million (at the current exchange rates of N306.2 to a US dollar) for the publication of a single opinion.

Speaking to Nigerians through in foreign media

President Buhari has been criticised for consistently making major pronouncements on key national issues through foreign media.

Shortly after his first major appointments in 2015 for example, Nigerians criticised the composition of the appointees, describing them as lopsided in favour of Mr Buhari’s northern region.

Despite the widespread condemnations across he country, Mr Buhari kept mute. He only responded to critics during an interview with the British Broadcasting Cooperation, weeks after the outrage began across the country.

In April, Mr Buhari was widely condemned for describing Nigerian youth as lazy during a meeting with commonwealth leaders in London. The President only clarified his comments two weeks later during an interview with the Voice of America.

While he has appeared on Aljazeera, CNN, BBC and VOA, Mr Buhari is not known to have granted interviews to any major Nigerian publication since he came to office in 2015. He has held only onemedia chat, in December 2015.

 

 

 

Posted on September, 20 2018

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon


You may also like...
Tribunal Dismisses Petition against Leo Ogor's Election

Police Warns Against Violence In Imo North Re-Run...

Lamido granted bail on ‘self recognition’

JONATHAN, PDP GOVERNORS MEET SECRETLY

Kaduna Teachers suspend indefinite strike

Nigeria's 'last chance' to avoid FIFA ban

Justice Nyako, Nnamdi Kanu’s absence stall treason trial...

#PlateauKillings: Journalist makes striking revelation about herdsmen attack......

Abia school feeding program is on course-Commissioner

Two dead in student protests in Chile

#OsunDecides: INEC bars cameras inside polling booths

The Expendable Abang Abang...how not to represent the...
News Abia Election Special (3) Abia Supplementary Polls Update (18) Abia Supplementary Result update (22) Appointments (8) Breaking News (195) Business (41) Campus News (3) Crime (120) Economy (110) Education (124) Entertainment (144) Fashion and Style (3) General (814) Health (107) Inside Africa (40) International News (303) Interviews (28) National (1931) Politics (942) Press Releases (109) Religion (9) Security (127) Sports (431) Technology (24) World News (87)

 

 

Advertisement

 

Latest News The Attack on President Buhari by Abia APC is Despicable and Misguided, PDP fires Enyimba Economic city: UPP lauds Ikpeazu, Buhari for signing deal BREAKING: Police arrests two billboard vandals in Umuahia Alex Otti took part in wrecking Abia treasury – Chikwe Udensi Aisha Buhari, Dolapo Osinbajo appointed as members of drug abuse committee We didn’t arrest Atiku’s sons – EFCC OPINION: Exposed; The dangerous Shallowness of Uche Ogah. OPINION: OTTI, A DESPICABLE HATER OF PROGRESS; A MAN WHOSE WICKED NATURE CANT BE DEFINED! Monarchs laud political parties for respecting zoning arrangement in Enugu Muhammadu Buhari: Africa must unite against corruption

 

Most Read Islamic agenda for Nigeria – Pastor Bosun (23,910 views) The show of shame that sealed Justice Uzokwe’s fate (17,535 views) 47 YEARS AFTER, HIS EXCELLENCY, COMMODORE EBITU UKIWE (Rtd) MAKES THE “OFO NDI IGBO” RECIPIENTS LIST (16,938 views) Breaking News : Dr Okezie Ikpeazu resigns from Abia State Environmental Sanitation Agency (ASEPA). (7,626 views) Lawyers accuse Lagos Police of working for PDP (7,313 views) Radio Biafra delivers AM Transmitter (7,077 views) ‘Why fuel scarcity persists’ (6,065 views) Nurse Justina Obi Ejelonu, one of the nurses that contracted Ebola virus is dead!!! (5,743 views) Abiriba Kingdom Celebrates as Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu (IV) marks 14th year on the throne (5,712 views) Breaking News : 2015 - Abaribe withdraws from Abia guber race, backs Ikpeazu (5,505 views)