LBW

Monday, 2 March 2015

Foreign Media Queries Buhar's London Soujourn!

Buhari was opportuned to meet Tony Blair and Gordon Brown because the U.S. political consulting firm founded by former Obama message guru David Axelrod is working for the APC and both Axelrod and the firm also currently work for the U.K.’s opposition Labour party, which Blair and Brown both belonged to when they were prime minister.

Nigeria is gearing up for a tight presidential poll in four weeks’ time. But opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari has been in London for the past week and he won’t say much about why.


Buhari swamped by journalists after giving a talk at London think-tank Chatham House on Feb. 26. Shyamantha Asokan for BuzzFeed News

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, faces its tightest presidential race ever on March 28. In one corner, there’s the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and in the other, there’s Buhari, an ascetic former military dictator who ruled Nigeria in 1983-5, a stint best known for a crackdown on corruption and rule-breaking dubbed the “War Against Indiscipline.” He has since run unsuccessfully for president three times.

Buhari’s campaign team says he has met two former British prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, while in town. But they won’t say what was discussed at the meetings, nor what other meetings he had during over one week in London.

Blair’s office confirmed to BuzzFeed News he had a private meeting with Buhari in London on Feb. 21, but declined to comment further. Brown’s office did not respond to repeated requests for confirmation.

Buhari has not used any foreign public relations or political consulting firms to set up this trip, Lai Mohammed, the spokesperson for Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party, told BuzzFeed News.

The U.S. political consulting firm founded by former Obama message guru David Axelrod has done stints working for the APC as recently as December.

Both Axelrod and the firm also currently work for the U.K.’s opposition Labour party, which Blair and Brown both belonged to when they were prime minister.

Buhari’s campaign team has given slightly different reasons for the trip at different times. At first, they presented it as a working visit to schmooze with “global institutions.”

However, later in the week, Buhari himself and the same campaign team official said the trip was primarily a private holiday to get a rest from campaigning in Nigeria, with a few official engagements thrown in.

“I have to come away from Nigeria to get some relative peace. That is what brought me here,” Buhari told reporters on Thursday, after giving a speech at the London think-tank Chatham House. He pointed to the sudden six-week delay to Nigeria’s election as giving him time to take a break.

Jonathan’s supporters, such as this prolific tweeter based in New York, say the 72-year-old Buhari is secretly in town for medical treatment and has health problems. Buhari says he is fit. 

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