By Frankie Edozien
Jay-Z and Beyonce
Did the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, divert $1 million from an anti-poverty program to finance a trip to Lagos by American pop stars Beyoncé Knowles and her husband Jay-Z?
Documents unearthed by the intrepid journalists at Sahara Reporters and released recently seem to indicate that he did.
There is no indication that Beyoncé and Jay Z, who thrilled crowds in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, knew that their visit could have been paid for, in part, by funds designated to ending abject poverty.
But when she performed this rendition of Nigeria’s national anthem, photos of Bayelsa state appeared on the screens behind her. You can see her thrill the audience above and here, singing live as it were.
This news came on the heels of reality star Kim Kardashian flying into Lagos for a Valentine’s Day event she “co-hosted” for a reported $500,000.
Her entire contribution was a brief appearance and a two-word greeting to the well-heeled crowd: “Hey Naija,” slang for “Hey, Nigeria. She took off immediately after. Folks are wondering where the money to fund her appearance came from.
While many Nigerians are outraged, Mr. Jonathan’s administration has remained mum on the issue. But Nigerian press accounts revealed this month that in recent years, the administration paid up to $60,000 to contract a American public relations and lobbying powerhouse.
As president, Mr. Jonathan has worked hard to try to burnish Nigeria’s image abroad, even as millions of Nigerians remain mired in poverty in his home state and the country at large.
Sahara Reporters points out that “according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 47 percent of Bayelsans live in poverty. The World Bank says that per capita gross domestic product in the Niger Delta is significantly below the country’s average. According to the state’s own 2005 development strategy, 80 percent of rural communities have no access to safe drinking water.”
Mr. Jonathan’s efforts — even his successful ones — are not always impressive. The January interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from Davos, below and here, was not widely seen as one of his finer moments.
More importantly, the image of Nigeria as a haven for poverty and corruption on the continent — and terrorists — doesn’t appear to be on the verge of changing soon, as Britain sends bombers to Nigeria and the Obama administration sends drones next door.
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