Why Did a Nigerian Company Pay Bill Clinton $1.4 Million for Two Speeches?

by Jim Geraghty

In light of Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, reviewed by my friend Bruce Webster here . . . 

. . . does anyone else find it surprising that Lagos, Nigeria–based newspaper company THISDAY would pay Bill Clinton $700,000 for a single speech . . . twice in two years? Once in 2011, once in 2012. Bill Clinton also spoke at a THISDAY event in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in February 2013.

This newspaper company ran into serious financial trouble by May 2013:

The industrial look of the office space clashes against [Nduka] Obaigbena’s image as a wealthy playboy who has brought in artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce and Snoop Dogg to Nigeria. His award shows have featured former U.S. President Bill Clinton several times, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others. That has meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in performance and speaking fees.

Meanwhile, union leaders and workers say Obaigbena routinely shorted them on their salaries and kept withholding taxes and obligations for himself. He has close ties to major business leaders and those in the ruling People’s Democratic Party. But lately, it appears as though Obaigbena has been suffering a cash crunch. He canceled his annual fashion week, which brings designers from around the world. Meanwhile, he continues to pump money into a satellite news channel called Arise TV. A previous effort to start a ThisDay newspaper in South Africa collapsed.

At the time of Bill Clinton’s speeches, some members of the small community of individuals focused on U.S. policy towards Nigeria wanted Washington to take a tougher line on corruption in the oil-rich country. Before Hillary Clinton’s trip to 2012 Nigeria, Human Rights Watch wrote to the secretary of state, urging her to take a tougher line on alleged human-rights abuses by the Nigerian government in her meeting with Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and declaring his anti-corruption agency had “not yet made significant strides”; the group pointed out that “despite the endemic corruption, no senior political figure in Nigeria is currently serving prison time for corruption.”

Here’s Hillary meeting with Jonathan in 2012:

She spoke pretty positively about Jonathan during her visit to Nigeria in 2012, describing him as a force against corruption:

We intend to remain very supportive on your reform efforts. Thank you for mentioning the work we did together on the election.

We were also very supportive of anti-corruption reform efforts, more transparency in the work that you and your team are also championing because we really believe that the future for Nigeria is limitless. But the most important task that you face, as you have said, is making sure that there are better opportunities for all Nigerians, South, East, West, every young boy and girl to have chance to fulfill his God-given potential. We want to work with you and we will be by your side as you make the reforms and take the tough decisions that are necessary.”

After speaking in Nigeria the three preceding years, and being compensated exceptionally well for two of them, Bill Clinton didn’t do a speech in Nigeria in 2014. And by that year, Hillary was offering a dramatically different view of the Nigerian government and Goodluck Jonathan:

“The government of Nigeria has been in my view somewhat derelict in its responsibility toward protecting boy and girls, men and women in northern Nigeria over the last years. . . . Nigeria has made bad choices, not hard choices,” Clinton said, parroting the name of her forthcoming memoir. “They have squandered their oil wealth, they have allowed corruption to fester and now they are losing control of parts of their territory because they wouldn’t make hard choices.”

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