Influence Analytics: Nigerian government hires lobbying firms

Map of the African continent with Nigeria located in green in the eastern crook
New statistics show Nigeria, seen here in green, to be the largest economy on the African continent. (Graphic courtesy of the CIA World Factbook)

Nigerian presidential aide Dr. Doyin Okupe exhorted attendees at a National Press Club briefing this week to disregard claims reportedly made by some governors from the eastern African nation’s northern states at recent White House meeting that President Goodluck Jonathan is responsible for aiding the extremist Boko Haram sect.

The latest episode in the sometimes bloody feuds troubling Africa’s most populous nation came as Nigeria also made headlines because the country reported its economy had nearly doubled, making it Africa’s largest economy — an increase that the Atlantic chalks up to a change in statistical method rather than sudden real-world change.

Since the start of 2013, entities associated with official Nigeria have hired several big name lobbying firms to help plead their case, according to Sunlight’s Foreign Influence Explorer tracker (this tool is still in beta; feedback welcome! Email us here):

  • The Glover Park Group reported that the Nigerian Embassy paid the group $165,000 since 2013; the firm reported numerous contacts with the State Department and congressional offices to set up meetings for the ambassador, which occurred in late 2012. The embassy has also hired McBee Strategic Consulting, reportedly to do “communications work to boost the country’s profile,” as well as the Whitaker Group to help representatives discuss Boko Haram on Capitol Hill in 2012.
  • In June 2013, the firm CMGRP Inc. DBA Weber Shandwick listed multiple contacts with American media such as NPR, Voice of America, and Reuters, to arrange meetings for Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Ako Adesina on a visit to Washington.


In other news from Sunlight’s influence trackers:

Is that streptomycin on my organic apple? The anti-pesticide group Beyond Pesticides urged supporters to write the U.S. Department of Agriculture ahead of a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board to oppose, among other things, the use of streptomycin on organic apples and pears. More than 900 comments were logged on by the close of the comment period April 8, many of them appearing to be critical of antibiotic use on organic fruits. According to Sunlight’s Docket Wrench, a tool which analyzes the wording of comments for similarities, at least 23 of the letters have language nearly identical to a sample letter posted by Beyond Pesticides, including the following language: “Many growers have already stopped using antibiotics in apple and pear production, and there are a number of viable alternatives currently being used and researched.” Streptomycin is currently permitted for use by organic apple and pears to combat fire blight, but the expiration date is in October. The tree fruit industry has petitioned the USDA to extend the expiration date to 2017.  Some letters also appear inspired by Consumers Union‘s concerns that the fish industry is pushing to be able to label certain fish as organic that shouldn’t be, such as farmed salmon. (Credit: Docket Wrench.)

Also seen: The U.S. Copyright Office is delaying the comment period for mass digitization and orphan works from from April 14 to May 21 (Scout); new law to preserve Medicare pay for physicians one of most popular on Open Congress; 30 registrations for health care lobbying over the last 30 days (lobbying tracker).