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Levick, Goodluck Jonathan Face Twitter Upheaval in Nigeria

Washington, D.C.’s Levick encountered a bit of a backlash from some Nigerian tweeters this week.

Some citizens of the West African country apparently take issue with its government’s decision to hire the firm, which came in order to downplay some of the very negative media attention regarding the Islamist group Boko Harem, which recently kidnapped more than 250 high school girls and inspired the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag.

Coincidentally, last week saw activist (and Edelman client) Malala Yousafzai meet with Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan in one of his most widely publicized attempts to address the crisis.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the firm told The Los Angeles Times:

“As the world witnesses the brutality of Boko Haram, and its cowardly tactics of using children as pawns in their terrorist campaign, LEVICK’s only mission is assisting the Government of Nigeria with its number one priority — the rescue of the girls and combating terrorism.”

The issue, it seems, is that many citizens (and the organizers of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign) assert that Jonathan isn’t actually interested in fighting Boko Harem or recovering the young women and that his performance has been unsatisfactory. Nigerian blogger Tolu Ogunlesi writes:

“…our government is still busy working according to old scripts, hiring PR consultants whose efforts are either not needed, or doomed, from the beginning, to end in failure…perhaps the world is not hearing much about any efforts to rescue the girls because there are really no serious efforts going on.”

From the New York-based Africa news service Sahara Reporters:

“Three months after the abductions, Mr. Jonathan is yet to visit the school where the girls were taken from…the families of the abducted girls refused to meet President Jonathan on Tuesday, stating that they were not sure that the Nigerian ruler was genuinely committed to rescuing the girls.”

While the hashtag isn’t quite driving international news coverage, it does, at the very least, hint at the extremely complicated and challenging nature of the Nigerian public’s relationship with its government. Here are some of the recent Twitter responses:

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