Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, June 30, 2014

Making things look better

The government in Nigeria seems convinced that we just don't understand. So they've hired some help to teach us. Oh, and maybe it will help teach the Nigerians who are also confused.

Nicholas Ibekwe, writing in The Premium Times, seems convinced that the purpose of the PR campaign is a substitute for effective governance. Do you agree? How do other media present this story?

Nigeria hires U.S. lobby firm for N195 million to launder image over handling of Chibok abduction
The Nigerian government has come under local and international condemnation over its far-from-impressive handling of the Chibok abduction.

In order to whitewash its inept handling of the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the Goodluck Jonathan administration has awarded a N195 million ($1.2 million) contract to U.S. Public Relations and lobby firm, Levick, to help change “international and local media narrative” surrounding its efforts to rescue the girls, Washington DC based newspaper, The Hill, is reporting…

The Federal Government has come under severe criticism from local and international media for its lethargic handling of the abduction, prompting the ruling party, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to accuse the opposition of sponsoring a media campaign to discredit the government…

Details contained in the contract document obtained by The Hill show that the firm will also be “assisting the government’s efforts to mobilize international support in fighting Boko Haram as part of the greater war on terror”.

The firm also promised to assist the government in effecting “real change” in the country…

Levick will also be working with Jared Genser, a human rights attorney, who has worked for notable personalities such as South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu and Burmese pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi in the past to publicise “President Goodluck Jonathan Administration’s past, present and future priority to foster transparency, democracy and the rule of law throughout Nigeria.”…

The contract shows that Levick will be paid N11,625,000.00 ($75,000.00) by month for its effort plus extra cost for advertisements, video production and website development. This will be done through an unnamed state-owned media agency…
I've used my quota for free articles from The Washington Post so I have to rely on The BBC for this bit of news.  

Goodluck Jonathan: Silence isn't inaction
More than 200 school girls remain missing after they were kidnapped by the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram... leading some critics to question Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's relative silence.

In Friday's Washington Post, Mr Jonathan offers his response.

"I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria's military, police and investigators to find the girls," he writes. "I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness."...

This connects with the news above in this way, according to Hayes Brown: The liberal website ThinkProgress notes that Mr Jonathan's opinion piece appeared in the Washington Post thanks to a new, $1.2m [£0.7m] deal the Nigerian president recently signed with the US public relations firm Levick.

"The use of PR firms to place op-eds and other commentary from world leaders is not a rarity," writes Hayes Brown. "As for the effect that the new PR blitz will actually have on changing the narrative, Africa hands are sceptical."

He quotes an Africa expert, Laura Seay, who says that "people on the ground" in Nigeria are going to read Mr Jonathan's column "and laugh, they're going to not believe it, because it's not reflective of the reality."

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