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Five Nigerians, entities that are in bed with American lobbyists

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[FILE PHOTO] Senate President Saraki

With the elections closing in, politicians approach that defining moment where they ensure they have every support they can get, kissed every ring that matters and genuflected to elder statesmen that could hold sway over their political futures. It is a period of calculated scampering not just locally but internationally.

Government officials have had a history of hiring lobbyists in the United States to curry favour from the US administration and the private citizens. Here are five government officials and politicians that have hired lobbyists.

Senator Bukola Saraki
The Senate President keen on a return to the senate chambers after the 2019 elections contracted the service of the KRL international through Retail Express Limited of Lagos. After his defection to the opposition party, People’s Democratic Party, from the ruling All Progressives Congress, there have been talks his return to the red chamber could be tougher than expected.

Saraki got the lobbyist firm to gain the support of the U.S administration, donor community, NGOs and international media. According to the contract, KRL’s objectives are to “Establish the leadership and democratic credentials of the principal in Washington, D.C. and in key European capitals; Secure US support in ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria in 2019, and Consolidate the strategic importance of Nigeria in relation to U.S national security policy and US-Africa relations.”

The agreement, which commenced on August 20, 2018, will last for eight months with Saraki required to pay $25,000 (N9.05million) per month. If the agreement runs its full duration, the Senate president will have paid $200,000 (about N72.4million).

PDP
Nigeria’s major opposition party, People’s Democratic Party hired top U.S lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who has US president Donald Trump as his client. The party, looking to unseat the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential elections, agreed to pay $90,000 (N32.58m) to Ballard Partners Inc. on a monthly basis throughout the duration of the one year contract. PDP will be required to pay almost $400 million if the contract runs for its full duration.

According to the contract the lobbyist firm is expected “to consult with the Client and advocate on its behalf those issues the client deems necessary and appropriate before the US Federal government. Issues and objectives may include, but not be limited to, enhancement of US Nigerian relations; strengthening and advancing democratic values and the rule of law in Nigeria, with a special focus in the coming months on maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference in order to ensure the success and fairness of Nigeria’s national election for president in 2019. It shall further be the Firm’s duty to inform the Client of developments in legislation and policy relevant to the Client’s issues and objectives.”

National Assembly
In a bid to create an avenue for members of the National Assembly and members of the United States Congress to discuss certain issues, the Nigeria Senate hired the services of a US-based lobbyist, Husch Blackwell Strategies on February 15, 2018.

HBS was tasked with organising training for members of the National Assembly in America, as well as meetings between members of the National Assembly and key congressional members and leaders in the United States such as the Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, President Pro Tempore and such other representatives from the US Congress.

The Washington firm was contracted with “technical sessions for members of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and members of the United States Congress which may include discussions in the area of trade and investment, the development of the electoral process, the role of Congress in foreign policy, and security.”

According to the contract, the National Assembly was to pay $20,750 (over  N7.5million) to the lobbyist firm with additional costs

Nasir El-Rufai
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, hired the services of KRL International, a Washington Consulting Firm when he was the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The former minister contracted the American firm to provide consulting services in the areas of public affairs, government relations, and other expertise. El-Rufai required KRL International to reach out to US Administration, US Congress, NGOs and media institution to ensure that the reform agenda of Nigeria is understood by the US public.

The duration of the contract previously from February 26, 2007 to March 31, 2007 was extended to 31st of May 2007. El-Rufai paid the firm $15, 000 retainer for their services.

EFCC

KRL International provided Pro Bono services to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to get the US support for the anti-corruption agenda of the body.

According to the contract, the consultancy which was on a month to month basis started on November 15, 2007.

The lobbyist firm was”directed to seeking U.S support for the anti-corruption agenda of the EFCC. This support will be sought in the U.S Administration, the U.S Congress, the private sector, the media, non-governmental organisations, think tanks, and other relevant private parties.”


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