This is not the first time a Nigerian leader has enlisted the service of spin doctors. During the Biafran War from 1966 to 1970, the Nigerian government contracted US PR firm Burson-Marsteller to counter reports of genocide from the war.

“Nigeria—we were representing a legitimate government involved in a civil war. The Biafrans did a great PR job propagating myths that are still believed,” said Harold Burson, the man described as the “godfather of modern PR.”

At times agencies shy away when even a lucrative major government client becomes problematic. New York based agency Weber Shandwick resigned from the Egypt government account in July after attracting the kind of scrutiny that distracted from more favorable work. In particular, the contract for the country’s intelligence agency had raised eyebrows with longtime observers, according to The Atlantic.

Weber Shandwick, which is owned by global media conglomerate IPG, says the decision to give up the account was driven by the divestment of its sister firm Cassidy & Associates in June. “Concurrent with that divestiture, Weber Shandwick reviewed our representation of foreign government clients in their efforts to influence US policy and decided to discontinue such work. As a result, we are no longer working with the Arab Republic of Egypt,” spokeswoman Michelle Giuda told Quartz in an email.

Cassidy & Associates, now an independent firm, is still contracted to the Egyptian government. “Egypt is a long-standing ally of the United States and plays a key role in the fight against terrorism,” said spokesman Tom Alexander. “Cassidy & Associates continues to represent the government of Egypt and highlight this important relationship with policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the Administration.”

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