Another avenue through which Nigerian officials waste or steal the resources of their states is by hiring American lobbying firms to purportedly help them schedule  appointments with American officials, arrange interviews with U.S.-based media organizations or seek investments for their state and country. More often than not, these lobbying firms deliver little or nothing of value to the states and country. There are also suggestions that some officials launder funds out of the country by claiming to be paying for services rendered by lobbying or image laundering firms.

This section is a guide into resources and platforms that tell you what lobbying firm your state or country is hiring and how much they are paying for the services.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted by the United States in 1938. It is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.

So here, you can get records of the lobbying firms government officials and individuals from your country are hiring. Find the U.S. Attorney General’s annual and semi-annual submissions to congress here detailing the lobbying firms hired by officials, governments and individuals within the period under review.

For instance, this link leads you to a PDF document detailing all the American lobbying firms hired by all countries in the second half of 2011.

You can search for detailed documents concerning the transactions between the lobbying firms and officials here. The instructions on the page are self-explanatory and you should have no problems searching through the database.

OpenSecrets is a project of The Center for Responsive Politics, a research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

It however also keep a lobbying database which details lobbying spending and the number of lobbyists hired within the U.S. and abroad.  On the left hand side of the page, you can find links to the information you want. When I clicked on the link Top Lobbying Firm, it led me to this page. You can then search through that database as you wish.

On the right hand page, you would find a small box which allows you search the database by clients, lobbying firms, individual lobbyist, specific issues, industry and so on. When I searched by clients, filling in Nigeria, this is what I got.

This is a database kept by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives to hold lobbying information and documents submitted to the House. It seems straightforward to use: Just log on to the page, select your search criteria (lobbying firms, clients, clients’ country and so forth) and see what the database throws up. For a start, try to select Client Name under Search Field, and write in Nigeria inside the Criteria box. See the interesting lists of lobbying contracts that you get.

Foreign Lobbying is a joint project of ProPublica and the Sunlight Foundation, which digitizes information that representatives of foreign governments, political parties and government-controlled entities must disclose to the U.S. Justice Department. The platform keeps perhaps the most up-to-date lobbying database. Since you are most likely to be searching for information about Nigeria, click on the Foreign Lobbying Filings link on the right hand side of the home page.

Reading through the information provided on the home page, might help you to be able to use this platform without difficulty. On the top right hand side of the page, try to click on countries, clients or lobbying firms. This is what I got when I clicked on the countries link and then plugged in Nigeria. Try the other links or search through the lobbying firms to determine which of them is providing services for officials and individuals in your country.