Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and major oil supplier that is being rocked by an bloody insurrection, has hired Mercury Public Affairs to enhance bilateral diplomatic, economic and security relations between it and the U.S.
The Omnicom unit will collect $300K in fees for the four-month outreach program.
Mercury is to provide Nigerian Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye government affairs counsel and will foster meetings for Nigerian officials with U.S. business and thought leaders.
The government of Nigeria, where half of the 160M population is Muslim, has been battling the Boko Haram jihadist group since 2009. The army killed 35 militants on Aug. 4. The fighting and political upheaval has had a major impact on Nigeria's energy sector, which is dominated by Shell Oil.
Shell blamed a second-quarter earnings decline on political unrest, sabotage, theft and environmental issues that impacted its Nigerian operation.
Mercury's Vin Weber, the former Minnesota Congressman and well-connected Republican operative, is expected to play a key part in the push for Nigeria.
Thinkman2 (Aug. 9, 2013): Ekine is correct, but then George Bush and Co. blew close to $2 billion to market the Iraq adventure, didn't he? As a fun late Senator intoned: s few million here and a few million there, and pretty soon . Whst we're talking real money. What he failed to add: "It's just the tsxpayers' money anyhow!"
Ronald N. Levy (Aug. 8, 2013): This calls to mind the time many years ago when a top Nigerian government official, perhaps the president, was to address the U.N. In New York, execs Ngam Nwachaku and Chief Olu Adebango used my company's release distribution service and asked my thoughts.
I told them that if the official spoke humbly of being the world's fourth or fifth largest oil supplier and said that with a little aid
Nigeria could do more for the "world's great countries and needy countries" (without specifying which countries that included) he might get a shot at hundreds of millions for development that could eventually mean billions.
But if all that wood and marble at the U.N. and all those lights got to him as it does to many, he might get pompous and get nothing but polite applause and later grief at an opportunity lost.
Sure enough, the wood and marble and the lights went to his head. He went off message to threaten the world with deprivation of some oil Nigeria was producing if he didn't get the aid he wanted.
As you can easily imagine, the Nigerian PR guys were sick over the speech. The leader got polite applause and nothing more--not a dime (nor whatever their unit of money is). A few months later the leader was ousted in a coup and I don't know what happened to Ngam and to Chief Adebango who were nice guys and hard workers. But I was told that another Nigerian communications exec was given $2 million to buy a radio station in Switzerland since a national radio station might help create a national language in this country which had literally hundreds of languages.
I was later told that the communicator went with the $2 million to Switzerland but never came back.
I hope Omnicom, which is very good indeed on these accounts, has good luck in helping the ambassador succeed in helping the world--and helping Nigeria's millions who get by on not very much--to get full benefit from the American leaders Omnicom can line up to listen.
That, ambassadors and foreign PR execs need to understand, is what top PR firms like Omnicom can do--not get government and companies to give money but to listen.
How the representation works out will depend not on whether Omnicom gets key people to listen but whether the ambassador and others, when America's leaders are listening, make a presentation that's persuasive.
Akonte Ekine (Aug. 8, 2013): I think it is a wrong move when the challenges in the country are higher. There are better ways to get the US government to see and appreciate the Nigeria position rather than investing tax payers money on wrong and meaningless initiative, so why do we have the embassy among many other structures and institutions that can address the issues from internal to external