BY SIMON ATEBA/WASHINGTON DC
The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has hired an expensive British firm to do public relations for her at the monthly cost of $2 million (About N800 million), according to sources, even though her Ministry already has a communication department with many qualified people in it, from photographers to reporters.
The Expensive British firm is known as Africapractice R & B
and is said to be paid about two million dollars monthly, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In Washington DC where Mrs. Adeosun spent a week attending the World Bank/IMF Spring meetings, she travelled with her British consultants led by Tim Newbold, its director who is white and who decided who spoke to her or not.
Adeosun and Tim Newbold before the Minister’s appearance at one of the meetings, a way of controlling the message.
Newbold and his staff were not only flown to Washington DC with Nigerian money, they were also comfortably lodged in expensive hotels in the expensive American capital, while Mrs. Adeosun’s Nigerian staff at the Ministry were left in Abuja, except for one junior one.
In Washington DC, Nigerian journalists reached a boiling point as Mr. Newbold repeatedly shielded them from their country Minister, claiming that he was trying to “control the message” going to Nigerians.
Journalists told THE SIMON ATEBA NEWS that many times, Mr. Newbold was overheard telling the Minister to ignore Nigerian journalists who approached her for interviews.
“Just look straight, do not look in their direction,” he was overheard as saying at least once.
The British consultants decided who spoke to the Minister in Washington DC and who did not, and insisted on seeing questions directed at the Minister in advance, to frame answers that would not be too controversial.
The consultants controlled the message by dishing out carefully written press statements and abruptly stopped journalists from asking questions on two occasions.
A Nigerian journalist bitterly told this newspaper that “everything the white man was hired to do could be done by a Nigerian journalist or public relations expert”. The expression “white man” was not a racist one, the journalist said, but a reference to an inferiority complex by many African leaders who prefer to hire white men and women, believing that they are superior to their countrymen.
THE SINON ATEBA NEWS could not confirm whether the amount of money being paid was even higher than the $2 million monthly according to sources.
THE SIMON ATEBA NEWS would detail specific incidents in the next article on the issue.
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