NAN ducks questions on Levick PR contract for Jonathan

NAN ducks questions on Levick PR contract for Jonathan

Friday, August 15, 2014 7:52 pm

The News Agency of Nigeria has avoided responding to enquiries by  three non-governmental organisations over the $1.5million image laundering contract signed between the agency  and the Washington based PR firm, Levick.

Instead of responding to the enquiries, NAN directed the three NGOs to ask the office of the National Security Adviser on the details, as the NSA office is keeping the contract papers. Unfazed by NAN’s stonewalling, the three groups have asked the NSA to provide the information needed.

The three NGOs that made the request, using the Freedom of Information Act, are the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), BudgIT Information Technology Network (BudgIT) and Connected Development (CODE) on the 18th of July, 2014.

The three organizations requested for information on the budgetary appropriation where the contract was included as a line item, copies of procurement plans including needs assessment documents, evidence of advertisements, copies of standard bidding documents issued to all bidders, a list of all bids tendered from the period of the advertisement till the closure of the bid advertisement, letter of notification of contract award, final contract documents and documentation showing schedule of payment. The organizations further requested for documents to be made available within 7 days in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

President Goodluck  Jonathan: Levick image laundering contract still creating ripples

President Goodluck Jonathan: Levick image laundering contract still creating ripples

In its response, NAN said  the information  being sought is domiciled with the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The FOI request by the three organizations was prompted by information being spread through social media networks of a contract between LEVICK communications, LLC (LEVICK) and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) for a contract of sum of One Million Five hundred thousand Dollars (1,500,000 USD) to assist with a range of government affairs and public relations matters to the Government of Nigeria.

According to the contract document which was also obtained online, “LEVICK will provide government affairs and communications counsel with the primary objective of changing the international and local media narrative related to the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to find and safely return the more than 200 girls abducted by the terrorist organization, Boko Haram in the Borno state of Nigeria, assisting the government’s efforts to mobilize international support in fighting Boko Haram as part of the greater global war on terror, communicating the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s past, present and future priority to foster transparency, democracy, the rule of law throughout Nigeria.”

The contract document further stated that the professional fees of LEVICK staff will be billed at the rate of One Hundred Thousand Naira Dollars (100,000 USD) monthly and the engagement would begin on the 16th of June, 2014 for an initial term of 12 months, bringing the amount of professional fees to One Million and two hundred thousand Dollars only (1,200,000 USD). In addition to the 1,200,000 USD, the contract agreement stated the engagement of Jared Genser of Perseus Strategies for a separate sum of 25,000 USD monthly which sums up to 300,000 USD for the initial period of 12 months. As a well-known international human rights lawyer the contract agreed that Jared shall be hired to assist primarily in the objectives to promote transparency, democracy and the rule of law throughout Nigeria bringing the total contract figure to 1.5 million USD for 12 months.

The 1.5 million USD contract excluded the monthly sum of 4,500 USD (4.5% of the monthly cost of 100,000 USD) to cover recurring costs such as in-house copying, faxing, scanning, printing, or postage, local communications costs and costs for access to on-line media technology and digital services.

The 1.5 million USD contract also excluded the cost for travel related expenses estimated to average 22,500USD per professional, per trip and any costs to relocate a LEVICK professional to Nigeria for a period. The contract was signed by the Managing Director of NAN, Ima Niboro.

By their response letter which was signed by Barrister Stella Benjamin on behalf of the Managing Director, NAN confirms that the information being sought is in existence and for a reason which is yet unclear, it is domiciled with the Office of the National Security Adviser.

A press statement by the three NGOs noted that The ONSA holds no statutory duties relating to managing and archiving procurement-related information on behalf of other public institutions; least of all for a Public Relations contract whose information cannot be construed to fall under any of the exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

“Consequently, we have directed our request to the Office of the National Security Adviser for more information as regards this contract and also to News Agency of Nigeria on the rationale for situating a Public Relations procurement and contracting records with the NSA,” the statement added.



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