Cash money makes things happen. That’s an expression taken from the Urban Dictionary but it may also be the hope of Atiku Abubakar, candidate for President of Nigeria with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party which just hired Donald Trump’s lobbying firm at an astronomical price.
The Florida-based firm is led by Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners – a veteran Florida lobbyist who raised money for Trump’s campaign and inauguration. His firm will earn $90,000 monthly for its services “plus the reasonable costs associated with the representation, including but not limited to, necessary registration fees and travel expenses.”
Abubakar was Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007 and a former ally of current president Muhammadu Buhari. Elections are scheduled for 2019.
While politicians can raise huge sums to boost their chances at the ballot box, Nigeria has just overtaken India in extreme poverty, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by the Brookings Institute.
An estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, are thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day. The average yearly salary in Nigeria is $3,596 with a maximum of $27,320 and a minimum of $202.
The largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria still fails to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards, according to CNN in a recent feature story.
According to a published copy of the contract, Ballard Partners will advocate for the Client before the US government including, but not 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.
Ballard is closer to the US president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town, writes the online news site Politico.
“I’m proud of our association with the administration,” Ballard told USA TODAY. “But we strive diligently to prove our worth based on merits, not on who did what during the campaign. That’s in the past.”
It’s not the first time that pricey U.S. lobbyists have been hired in Nigeria. In 2014 Nigeria’s ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) hired Chicago-based AKPD Media, a firm founded by David Axelrod that also worked for former president Barrack Obama, to help in the 2015 election.