herald

Saturday 25 October 2014

Bertie's a hit in Nigeria but loses gig with prestige agency

SHAMED Bertie Ahern has been invited back to give another speech in Nigeria, the Herald can reveal.

Sources connected to an event where he spoke this week say he was "inspirational".

However, the former taoiseach is no longer listed as a speaker on the website of the prestigious Washington Speakers Bureau. He had been available for hire along with others former politicians, including Tony Blair, George W Bush and John Major until this week.

Mr Ahern remained on the website in the aftermath of the Mahon Tribunal -- which branded him a liar -- but now appears to have given up trying to secure speaking engagements, for which he charges around €30,000.







Damning

However, he was "well received" in Nigeria, where he went to speak just days after the Mahon report was released. Mr Ahern was said to have delivered an "inspirational speech" to business and political leaders, with audience members "unaware" of the explosive tribunal findings.

Sources connected to the event have admitted that the damning report played "no part" in Mr Ahern's trip to one of the world's most corrupt nations. And the Herald can today reveal that political and business leaders in Nigeria's Ogun State have invited Mr Ahern back next year.

A source said: "He spoke about the Good Friday Agreement and the Celtic Tiger and he was very well received. You have to remember, Mr Ahern is judged in Nigeria by his achievements, not by a tribunal that had negative findings against a number a people."

Ogun State sources asked to remain anonymous as they were under obligation not to divulge details of the event to the media.

Mr Ahern delivered the speech on Monday - as part of the Ogun State Investors' Forum.

Mr Ahern was listed as one of the bureau's most expensive speakers and was understood to have pocketed in the region of €30,000 for the speech.

The bureau was unavailable for comment on Mr Ahern's role with them. Sources told the Herald that a potential return trip to Nigeria is "entirely up to Mr Ahern" however an invitation "has been extended".

A source explained: "He is seen as an inspiration over there. He already advises the Nigerian government on economic issues but this event was separate. We have a saying -- 'A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country'." A spokesperson for Mr Ahern refused to comment on the Nigerian trip.

hnews@herald.ie

Opinion

Entertainment News