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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

More trouble for US/Nigeria diplomatic relations

More trouble for US/Nigeria diplomatic relations
 11.Feb.2015  DISQUS_COMMENTS  
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THE frosty diplomatic relations between the United States (US) and Nigeria may be further worsened by claims that consultants to All Progressives Congress (APC) are associates of President Barack Obama.
 The Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, according to a minister who spoke with TheCable on Tuesday, was poised to protest “strongly” against White House’s “meddling” in the Nigerian elections which it believed was influenced by AKPD Media and Messages, firm handling APC’s political strategy in the US.
The political consulting firm was co-founded by David Axelrod, an Obama’s confidant. He was a chief campaign adviser to Obama during the campaign for the presidency in 2008 and was later appointed as senior advisor to the president.
In 2011, Axelrod left government and became the senior strategist for Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The minister told TheCable that the Jonathan-led administration would raise concerns with the Obama-led administration over its “hostile” attitude to the Nigerian president and its obvious endorsement of the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, had issued a strong-worded statement on Sunday, condemning the postponement of the general election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and warning against further delays.
Unconfirmed reports say Kerry, during his recent visit to Nigeria, had asked Jonathan why he did not fire Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and national security adviser, for suggesting in London, on January 22, that the 2015 elections be postponed because of the fiasco over 30 million uncollected biometric voter cards.
In a report in the Washington Free Beacon, an online newspaper, AKPD, was accused of lying that it had stopped working for the APC.
AKPD once said it stopped working for the APC since March 2014, but its email exchanges with senior party members and advisers since then “show that contrary to the firm’s claims, AKPD has quietly continued to perform political work on Buhari’s behalf as he fights to unseat President Jonathan.”
AKPD spokesperson, Isaac Baker, had told the Washington Times last year that the firm worked with the APC from December 2013 till March 2014 “to form a new political opposition party and create a platform in advance of their first national convention. We were no longer working with the APC when the Boko Haram’s abduction of the Chibok girls took place.”
However, he was said to have admitted on Monday that the firm worked again with the APC in December 2014.
“AKPD worked with APC from December 2013 till March 2014, at which point our contract ended. Nine months later, in December 2014, the APC rehired AKPD for a three-week engagement to help the party in organising announcement events,” Baker told the Free Beacon in an email.
“That was our only involvement with the party since we completed work in March. That project is now complete and we have no ongoing relationship with them,” he said.
Free Beacon, however, said the internal emails sent between APC advisers over the past several months and obtained by the newspaper confirmed that the work with AKPD continued after March 2014.
“In a series of messages between senior APC officials and advisers from September 2014 till late January this year, AKPD polling and other work are repeatedly discussed,” the newspaper reported.
“The meeting went well and the report well received. Governor Rotimi Amaechi will meet with the AKPD team tomorrow to discuss the facilitation of the event, but no date fixed yet,” APC member, Olubunmi Adetunmbi was reported to have written in one September 23 email to Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti State.
“AKPD’s work was again mentioned in a separate chain of emails sent between Buhari’s running mate, Yemi Osinbajo and Fayemi.
“I also think the AKPD surveys also clearly showed that the South-West is the battle ground for this election,” Osinbajo wrote in a discussion about boosting election turnouts for the APC.
A third email chain from January 21 showed APC leader, Nasir El-Rufai, discussing an “October 2014 AKPD poll” that he hoped to disseminate to “the team” the newspaper reported.
Lai Mohammed,  APC’s spokesman, told TheCable on Tuesday, that the fact that AKPD was APC’s consultant “ in the public domain.”
Another US firm, Levick, led by former US President Bill Clinton’s confidant, Lanny Davis, currently works for the Jonathan-led administration after signing a consultancy deal with the News Agency of Nigeria in 2014