A new book “Broken Vows” by investigative journalist Tom Bower has revealed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s attempts to make money in Nigeria.
The book is serialised in the Daily Mail.
Here are some extracts about Blair’s operations in Nigeria.
As well as promoting his charities, Blair also worked hard at increasing his fortune.
He maintained there was a strict line drawn between his charities and private work; but in practice this line was blurred, as was his frequent use of British embassies paid for by the taxpayer.
Take, for instance, one of his more recent ventures.
In May 2015, Blair flew to Nigeria to meet the new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on a jet chartered by Evgeny Lebedev, who owns the London Evening Standard with his father, a former KGB colonel.
After a night at the Hilton Hotel, Blair called the following morning on the British High Commissioner.
Dropping in on British embassies had by then become a familiar routine: in every country Blair visits, he expects the embassy to provide him with a comprehensive security briefing and occasionally even overnight accommodation.
But although he was advising sovereign governments in ways that could conflict with British interests, no one at Whitehall had dared to end this perk.
At the Nigerian embassy, Blair was keen to discover more about the threat posed by Boko Haram, the Islamic terror group murdering hundreds of civilians in the north of the country.
Then, armed with the classified information, he sped in a motor cavalcade to the president’s office. It was their first meeting. Blair introduced himself grandly as ‘Britain’s most successful Prime Minister’ and then launched into his practised sales pitch.
‘I pioneered the skills to make government work effectively,’ he told the president. ‘The Delivery Unit is the leader’s weapon to make his government effective across the civil service and country.’
He offered to establish a delivery unit within Buhari’s government, with paid staff. But the president — a former army general and military dictator famous for imprisoning his opponents without trial — looked bored.
So did Lebedev, who had only come along because he was interested in Blair’s charity work fighting the Ebola virus.
‘Could you all leave us alone now?’ Blair announced suddenly. ‘I have a personal message for the president from David Cameron.’
But it was nothing of the kind.
Twenty minutes later, Buhari emerged looking noticeably disgruntled.
Blair, he told an aide, had used his access to tout for business on behalf of his private company, Tony Blair Associates.
Without so much as a blush, he had offered to sell the president Israeli drones and other military equipment to help defeat the Boko Haram uprising. ‘Blair is just after business,’ muttered Buhari.
During the drive back to the airport, the local organiser for Blair’s AGI charity asked whether he was mixing charity and business. ‘We don’t do business in Africa,’ Blair replied.
‘Don’t worry. Only AGI and charitable work. We only do business in the Middle East and Asia.’
Two weeks later, the local AGI organiser called Buhari’s office to ask whether the president wanted to go ahead with a delivery unit. He was rebuffed.
‘The president was not happy with Blair pushing the Israeli business,’ Buhari’s office warned him.
Anyone else might have desisted; not the eternally optimistic Blair.
Six weeks later, in London, he met Bukola Saraki, the president of the Nigerian senate and third most powerful person in the country.
This time, as he discussed opportunities to introduce investors from the Middle East to Nigeria, he was more successful. ‘We’d like that,’ said Saraki — who was fully aware that Blair now also represented a wealth fund based in Abu Dhabi.
While expanding his empire, Blair has also added greatly to the fortunes of his original employer, J.P. Morgan.
Back in 2010, he asked for a one-on-one meeting with the then Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan — ostensibly to offer the services of AGI and the Faith Foundation to help reconcile the country’s Muslims and Christians.
Again, he was given an intelligence briefing by the British embassy in advance.
But having charmed the president and — in the words of Jonathan’s staff — satisfied his ego, Blair then introduced him to J.P. Morgan chief Jamie Dimon.
The banker offered to manage Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund — and Jonathan agreed. No other bank in the world was asked to tender for this profitable work.