In April 2014 Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Nigeria's town of Chibok and subjected them to physical, psychological and sexual abuse for refusing to convert to Islam. Three months after the incident, the wife of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience Jonathon, suggested that the abduction was staged to discredit the country's government. This suggestion fuelled mass protests throughout the country with demonstrators calling for the president to step down.
According to a report titled "Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes" this situation prompted Nigeria's authorities to seek help from Western PR experts to improve the country's international image and the domestic image of Nigerian authorities in the wake of the 2015 general election.
The study also suggests that in the spring of 2014, the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke and a close ally of the country's President met with five PR agencies in London "to mount the European wing of the PR offensive."
It is not clear which British firm received the contract with the Nigerian government, but the report cited Africa Confidential as saying that UK PR and Communications Agency Bell Pottinger is currently working alongside US election strategist Joe Trippi on Goodluck Jonathan's election campaign.
The study also cites data by The Africa Report suggesting that Nigeria is "Africa's biggest spender on image-making, just ahead of Egypt and Morocco."
The 64-page report "Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes" reviews cases proving that "repressive regimes" throughout the world hire Western PR firms to improve their image abroad.