Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Works gone bad?

Andrew Young, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations and close associate of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, formed the lobbying and consulting firm Goodworks, International (GWI), LLC in 1996 with two partners. One of those partners, former White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan, has since left the firm. Young's remaining partner in GWI, Carl Masters, is a Caribbean national. Together, Young and Masters promise on the GWI webpage to "leverage their experience" to promote global business expansion into new and emerging markets in Africa and the Caribbean.

One very populous and rapidly developing country in subSaharan Africa with which GWI has been doing considerable business is Nigeria, and the Nigerian-born journalist Omoyele Sowore is out to expose the firm's dealings with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Still the toast of the town in Atlanta, however, GWI recently celebrated their 10th anniversary with a dinner at the Georgia Aquarium at which Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin praised the firm for its "public-purpose capitalism." I predict that Young and GWI will survive Sowore's accusations and profit from the coming elections destined to preserve Obasanjo's power operating behind the scenes in a Yar Adua administration. Will GWI really be doing good works for Nigeria, though?

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At 9:06 PM , Anonymous imnakoya said...

Your question is one I have asked several times on my blog and which the Nigerian/US mainstream media need to ask as well.

At 9:35 PM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

Apparently Mr. Sowoye did manage to draw enough attention to the issue that this one reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution did write quite a hard-hitting piece. I have stated things a bit more boldly here, however.

At 11:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Don, you are the only person I can think of who has ever used the words "hard hitting" in connection to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The piece on GWI and Nigeria was anything but hard hitting. In fact, it made no allegations of wrongdoing whatsoever against GWI. There does, however, seem to be an implication that if a company does business in Nigeria, or knows President Obasanjo, then they MUST be up to something. That kind of thinking is deeply flawed.

Enough rumor and innuendo. I know this is just a blog, but, seriously...

Oh, one other thing. I had to laugh when you wrote that you have "stated things a bit more boldly here." well, no, you didn't. The Journal Constitution didn't say anything of substance and you said far, far less.

At 12:39 PM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

The piece does seem to have been "hard hitting" enough that it made an impression on you. I may agree with your evaluation of the AJC in general. However, they do often target individuals for investigation and it seems they may have it in for Andy Young at this point. Vernon Jones would be another example from years past.

The hardest criticisms of Obasanjo and GWI, with some apparent factual support, are coming from Sowoye. I was quite direct in stating how a PDP victory in the current voting may benefit GWI.


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