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Archive for August, 2009

Address to Joint Session of Liberian National Legislature

Address

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Capitol Building, Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for this great honor of having the chance to address the democratically elected legislature of Liberia. (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, President pro-tem, all of the members of this legislature in joint session, other dignitaries who are with us today, and especially the people of this country, a country that was engulfed in war just a few years ago.
I know that some of you in this chamber bore arms against each other, but the people of Liberia demanded peace, stability, and a better future. (Applause.) And (inaudible) your being here, committed to the peaceful resolution of dispute, is a great message that the people of Liberia have representatives of a unified government in a parliament and in a presidency entrusted to serve the Liberian people, to help rebuild the nation, and to realize the goals of development that will once again give every boy and girl in this country a chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential. (Applause) That 14 years of bloodshed and lawlessness could produce peace, free elections, and a democratic government is not so much a triumph of might, but a triumph of the human spirit.
And that is what I would like to talk with you about today – how to keep that spirit alive, how to build strong, democratic institutions, honest and competent leaders, engage citizens on a foundation of human dignity.
I bring greetings from President Obama. (Applause.) The President considers himself a son of Africa, and in his historic speech in Ghana, he said much about what he hoped for (inaudible) on his heart. Remember that he said that the future of Africa is up to the Africans. The future of Liberia is up to the Liberians. (Applause.)
But it is also true that there are paths toward that future which will lead in a positive direction, and there are others that will lead in a negative direction. The choices that are made every day will determine which path Liberia chooses.
When President Johnson-Sirleaf gave her inaugural address to this assembly just three-and-a-half years ago, she identified the core ideals that have guided Liberia’s democracy movement through this nation’s darkest days – peace, liberty, equality, opportunity, and justice for all. The challenge for every democratic government, whether it is three years old or 233 years old like ours, is how to translate those ideals into results in the lives of people.
Democracy has to deliver, and both President Obama and I believe that dignity is central to what is at the core of successful democracies: a voice for every citizen in the decisions that affect your life, your community, and your country; the opportunity to earn a decent wage and provide for your family and live without fear; an equal chance, no matter what your background, your gender, your faith, ethnicity, or station in life; to combine your motivation and ambition with the opportunity that every society should present to its people; and a government elected freely and fairly, accountable to the people it serves.
This vision of a democratic society is at the root of the democracy that began to flourish just those three-and-a-half years ago. It is still the vision that should guide not only presidential leadership, but parliamentary leadership as well.
Now, I have been on both sides of the street, so to speak. I have been in the White House when my husband was president. I have been in the Senate for eight years in both the majority and the minority for most of the time. (Applause.) And now I am back in the executive branch, working for President Obama. So let me tell you that sometimes it appears to be from both sides of the street. When I have been in the executive branch, I have wondered what the Congress was up to and worried about the Congress. When I was in the Congress, I wondered what the President was up to and worried about the President. (Applause.) Where you stand is often determined by where you sit.
But what I know is how important it is, especially in the beginning, to have a level of cooperation toward meeting the common goals to serve the people, and that no matter where that service finds you, to be resolved, to try to constantly ask yourself what I think is the most important question for any of us in public service: Is what I am doing today – the decision I’m making, the bill I’m writing, the vote I’m casting – likely to make life better for the last and the least among us? (Applause.)
In just three years, there are encouraging signs of progress. Your nation has adopted sound fiscal policies with the support of this legislature. That was not easy, and it is noted around the world. We encourage your legislature to continue developing your budgetary oversight role. You have begun to attack corruption and promote transparency. Liberia has made progress on debt relief, and the economy continues to grow despite the global economic crisis. (Applause.) Land tenure issues that remained persistent impediments to economic progress have resulted in the legislature taking the important step in passing the Land Commission Act. Your president is working hard to build a competent and professional security sector, and all of Liberia can take pride in the fact that this nation now has free and compulsory education for primary school children, including your girls. (Applause.)
So you have been climbing up that mountain that sometimes looks like there is no end in sight. But you still face huge challenges, and we stand ready to help you in partnership and friendship. There are forces at work trying to undermine the progress and fuel old tensions and feuds. Many Liberian people still need jobs, electricity, housing, and education. Law enforcement is still inadequate, and after years of war and lawlessness, institutions have been left crippled, unable to function properly or serve the public efficiently or effectively.
So it is, I think, important to note that given the progress you’ve made, you must hold on to that and continue up that mountain together – (applause) – because there is no guarantee that the progress remains. Change is inevitable; progress is not. We live with change every day. What each of us has to do is to master the forces and winds of change to make sure that it results in real, tangible progress for this country.
Now, there are no magic wands or I would have brought one for every one of you. There are no quick-fixes for countries making the transition from violent conflict to lasting peace and stability. But one thing I know for sure – Liberia has the talent, the resources, and the resilience to succeed if everyone works together on behalf of the common good. (Applause.) And Liberia also has the opportunity to be a model not just for Africa, but for the rest of the world.
There is an agenda ahead of us that I stand ready on behalf of our government to continue to offer our assistance to achieve. First, (inaudible) build strong, democratic institutions that work and are accountable and deliver results. If you remember President Obama’s speech, he said something which I’ve heard throughout my travels in Africa, that what Africa needs is not more strong men, but strong institutions, institutions that will stand the test of time, that will, frankly, survive good leaders and not-so-good leaders, but which are strong enough to engender the faith and confidence of the people of Liberia.
Ending corruption is necessary to growing and sustaining such institutions and restoring the public’s trust. I have been to countries that are far richer than Liberia. These democracies have been in existence far longer, but because they never tackled corruption, their future is repeating before their eyes.
I will say to you what I said in two days in Nigeria, a country that has the fifth-largest supply of petroleum and gas, so many riches, and yet the number of people living in poverty is growing. Nigeria is now further away from achieving the Millennium Development Goals than they were ten years ago. That is a travesty. That does not have to be either Nigeria’s future, and it should not be Liberia’s future.
So how do we recognize the importance of ending corruption? I think steps are being taken with the Anti-Corruption Commission. But this legislature should also decide to pass a code of conduct. It is something that – (applause) – allows you to hold not just yourselves but each other accountable. We have over the years in our Congress realized that human nature being what it is – and I’m a Methodist so I know human nature gets us into most of the trouble we get into – we have to have codes of conduct, regulatory frameworks, ethical standards that guide the pursuit of the common good.
It is also critical to have an electoral system that is credible, that will produce free and fair elections in 2011. (Applause.) The world is watching, and we take a personal interest in the elections to come in Liberia because we know that this election, where there will be a peaceful transition of power from one civilian authority to another, will set in motion the future legitimacy of elections for years to come.
The legislature can and must do its part by acting on the threshold bill so that the process can move forward. (Applause.) You’ve already taken steps in rebuilding effective institutions, and I congratulate you. Conducting a census in the last three years was a very important accomplishment, registering voters, ensuring that the three branches of government are both competent and independent, demonstrating a unity of purpose.
And I think too that as a famous former governor of the state I represented for so many years (inaudible) and I know a place that many of you know well and even lived in from time-to-time, Mario Cuomo once said, “Politics is poetry, but governing is prose.” (Laughter.) You go out and campaign as I have. It’s easy to say all kinds of things. You get into this chamber, the job becomes harder. (Applause.)
That’s why it’s important not to let politics, which is a noble and critically essential profession, overwhelm governing. As you prepare and gear up for the upcoming election, keeping in mind that hard, contested elections are part of a democracy, but then to (inaudible).
Now, I’ve been, again, on both sides. I’ve won elections, and I’ve lost elections. (Laughter.) In a democracy, there is no guarantee you’re going to win. I spent two years and a lot of money running against president Obama, and he won. And then I went to work to elect him. And then, much to my amazement, he asked me to be his Secretary of State. (Applause.) And I must say that one of the most common questions I’m asked around the world, from Indonesia to Angola, is: How could you go to work for someone you were running against? I said, because we both love our country. (Applause.) And I would argue that it is that love that every successful country has to inculcate in its people and its leaders so that the political process of a democracy doesn’t break apart the country, doesn’t create so much bad blood and ill feelings that people won’t accept the outcome of an election, or not believe that they could have lost or refuse to move forward under those circumstances. And that is what we know Liberia can do.
We also know that there must be more done to enhance security for the people of Liberia. Later, I will visit the National Police Academy, where I will announce additional and accelerated U.S. support for the police. (Applause.) As you know, our government is also training the Liberian Armed Forces, and in my meetings with the president and ministers of your government today, we talked about additional ways we could provide security, particularly maritime security, so that the coastline of Liberia, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, one of the – (applause) – treasures of this country, will be protected.
We are committed to supporting you as you move forward on this positive, progressive agenda. W e supported you for many years, but now our support is really grounded in our confidence in your capacity, your competence to deliver. (Applause.) Since the peace accords in 2003, we have provided over $2 billion in assistance. We have supported the United Nations security effort. We are committed to helping lift Liberia by building a stronger economy that can spread opportunity and prosperity to more people.
Right now, only 15 percent of the Liberian people work in the formal sector. So job creation and raising incomes is a critical task before you. So we will work with you to strengthen the private sector, enhance trade opportunities, and rebuild infrastructure, including roads, electrification, and information technology. (Applause.) We are assisting your government with natural resources management, food security, education for children, and adults who missed the opportunity to go to school because of the war. And this country is a focus for our Malaria Initiative.
I want to congratulate Liberia for recently gaining eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act. I started my trip in Africa in Nairobi at the AGOA conference, and I and the U.S. Trade Representative and our Secretary of Agriculture emphasized that we want to do more to help countries access and utilize AGOA, and we want to help Liberia to work to achieve more products that can be exported duty-free into the United States market. (Applause.)
I also applaud your efforts to qualify for the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative that will complement the progress that you have made in bringing greater transparency to the management of natural resources. This will improve the business climate, attract investment, and stimulate the creation of jobs. And I want to add that if done right, if you create the legal framework for the exploitation of your natural resources, you will see a revenue stream that will help to build the roads and the infrastructure and the jobs that you’re seeking.
There are examples of this around the world, but let me use one example from Africa: Botswana. When diamonds were discovered in Botswana, the Botswana Government, the then-president and the legislature, decided that they were not going to let outsiders or corrupt insiders exploit what was the natural right to the riches of their country of the people. So they created a legal framework, and they required that any company wishing to do business in the diamond industry had to provide significant revenue for the Government of Botswana. They then put that money into an airtight fund. And if you have ever been to Botswana, you can drive anywhere. The roads are in excellent shape. You can drink cool water anywhere, because every time you buy a diamond from DeBeers, some of that money you spend goes to pave roads in Botswana. That’s what I want to see for Liberia. (Applause.)
But before I leave this afternoon, at the airport I will present equipment to help make the airport fully operational again. (Applause.) In addition, our Transportation Security Administration through its ASSIST program is working with the Liberian Civil Aviation Authority, the airport, and the Bureau of Immigration to ensure that the airport can meet international safety standards. This will increase domestic and international flights, including those from the United States. And I look forward to that day. (Applause.)
It’s a particular honor for be to be addressing you, because I remember when President Johnson-Sirleaf addressed our joint session of Congress when I was sitting where you are sitting. (Applause.) (Inaudible.) Thank you. I love that. I want to take him with me wherever I go. Thank you. Excellent.
And I remember when the president described Liberia as a land rich with rubber, timber, diamonds, gold, iron ore, fertile fields, plentiful water, and warm and welcoming sunshine. That paints a really beautiful picture. But even more beautiful are the people of Liberia – (applause) – hardworking, resourceful, and resilient, but damaged by years of conflict.
We can’t mince words; you know that. In the briefing that I and my delegation received from the minister of agriculture, I was stunned when she said there are no livestock left. At the end of the conflict, anything that could be eaten was eaten. People (inaudible) rebuilding agriculture, rebuilding the tools that are needed for each individual to pursue his or her destiny is what this is all about. The talent and resources exist here (inaudible) overcome division, expand opportunities, and ensure that prosperity is more broadly shared across society.
Some of you have seen a film that tells the story of a Liberian woman’s efforts to end the war. Tired of the killing and the conflict, she organized women at her church and then other churches and in mosques until thousands of Liberian women had joined a vocal, public movement demanding peace. I remember meeting some of those women years ago. These were women who woke up one day and said, “Enough, enough. We’re better than that.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” He could have been talking not just about these Liberian women, but about everyone in this chamber who have determined to make Liberia’s story be one of hope and opportunity.
I know that the suffering of the people of Liberia has been broad and deep. But now, you each have a chance, both personally and publicly through your service here, to make a stand against the past and for a future that is worthy of the sacrifice and the suffering that went on too long. The United States is proud to support you. We are proud to be your partner and your friend, and we are proud to work with you to realize the full potential of Liberia and its people. God bless Liberia. (Applause.)

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Secretary Clinton Meets With Embassy Monrovia Personnel and Their Families

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Monrovia, Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, and what a personal pleasure it is for me to be here. Ambassador, your leadership of this mission and, of course, your long, personal relationship with this country and your commitment to building a stronger partnership between Liberia and the United States is really exceptional, and I just thank you for your service. You have a great team here, and I know especially how dedicated this team has been not only in the last three and a half years of democracy, but in the years before.

I’m delighted to finally be here and to have a chance to say thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your courage, thank you for your dedication and professionalism, and thank you for your commitment to advancing the interests that the United States has in seeing a peaceful, unified, prosperous Liberia. And I just finished addressing the legislature and told them that the United States would stand with them. We expected to see the kind of progress that is important for the betterment of the people of Liberia, but we would be at the side of the Liberians as they move forward.

I also have to say that Embassy Monrovia has a reputation throughout the State Department and USAID. (Applause.) I have heard stories of the heroism and sacrifice that many of the employees here exhibited during the civil war. I know there were numerous evacuations. Those of you who have been here for a long time, particularly our locally engaged staff, had to endure separations from your children and your spouses for days and weeks because of the conflict in the streets. And of course, we will always remember the ultimate sacrifices by the more than a dozen courageous Liberians who lost their lives protecting this Embassy. And I want to extend my appreciation and my sympathy to their families and to their loved ones, if you would convey that for me.

During all those years of strife, the employees of this Embassy stayed behind to feed, house, and protect the remaining civilians while others were evacuated. These doors never closed in all that time. There are people in Washington who said, “We want to move them out, it’s too dangerous.” But I have to tell you that the poor staff here said, “We are needed here, and we must stay.” And this Embassy was instrumental in pushing the warring parties to achieve peace.

Now, fortunately, this country is no longer torn by violent conflict. But there is still so much work to be done. Peace is fragile. The stability is fragile. The democracy is fragile.

President Obama in his historic speech in Ghana made very clear that the future of Africa is up to Africans. The future of Liberia is up to Liberians. But we’re going to do everything we can to help that future turn out to be a bright one for the people here (inaudible). (Applause.)

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Remarks at Liberian National Police Academy

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and it is an absolute honor for me to be here this afternoon at this national police training academy, and to see the future of Liberia before my eyes. I want to thank the special representative of the secretary general, Representative Loej, for her outstanding work as head of the UN’s mission in Liberia. And I especially appreciated those very important remarks about the progress that has been made cannot be taken for granted; there is still much work ahead of us.
I also wish to thank the inspector general of the police. I thank you, Inspector General, for your leadership. And to all the ministers who are here, and especially to President Sirleaf – her outstanding work as the president of this country over the last three and a half years has focused very specifically on making sure that we’ve had security in Liberia.
Now President Sirleaf and the special representative and the inspector general and all of the ministers could have worked very hard through trying to create a Liberian national police force. But unless the men and women of Liberia stepped forward to serve their country, it would not have happened. You know that maintaining law and order is a critical element in sustaining peace and stability. Your fellow countrymen and women, and particularly the children of Liberia, need you. They need you not only to protect them and to provide security; they need you to help heal the wounds left by 14 years of conflict. They need you to help renew the promise of Liberia.
The challenges you face are even greater, because as you know, in the past, some elements of Liberia’s police force betrayed the public’s trust. When President Obama visited Ghana last month, he spoke about the Africans taking control of their destiny and striving for the peace and security necessary for progress. You are living examples of President Obama’s words. For too long in Liberia, the police instilled fear. Today, you must fight fear. For too long, the police undermined the rule of law. Today, you must oppose it.
I can imagine how difficult the training has been. In fact, training professional police officers is one of the hardest jobs to do in post-conflict situations. But you have been given some of the best training available. And it is important that you recognize the investment that has been made in you not only by your fellow Liberians, but by people who believe in the role you will play in securing a positive, prosperous, peaceful, progressive future.
President Sirleaf reported to us on your progress when she came to Washington earlier this year. And we talked about ways the United States could continue to strengthen the LNP. We have been proud to work with the United Nations and with the wonderful trainers and police officers who have come from around the world. Liberia has become a powerful example of how the international community can respond together when a nation is ready to move forward.
And I especially wish to salute the women who have joined this year’s training class and those who have come before. What we have found around the world is that women police officers are essential, along with their male counterparts, to provide the stability of peace and security.
U.S. police officers and advisors have had the opportunity to collaborate closely with the LNP. We have focused much of our effort on the LNP Emergency Response Unit. Our investment in the ERU, including the new headquarters that will be opening soon, is a down payment on Liberia’s future security. And I am pleased to announce today that in next year’s budget, the United States will increase its financial support for training the LNP. (Applause.)
So let me thank you. Thank you for your courage, for your service, for your commitment to continuing Liberia’s already remarkable progress. The United States is honored to work with you. President Obama and I are committed and dedicated to seeing that you succeed. We look forward to expanding our partnership in the future, and I congratulate this class for making this decision to be part of ensuring that Liberia’s future is a really positive one. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: (In progress.) – to the president, the Secretary of State of (inaudible) and Her Excellency (inaudible). We’ve been informed that the Secretary of State of the United States will be accepting a few questions from the new recruits. So if I may have any volunteers to ask the Secretary of State a few questions? I have to recognize you. Now you are recognized. You may stand up and ask a question. Go ahead.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) of the National Police (inaudible) Academy (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary of State and the distinguished president (inaudible), we acknowledge our president now yesterday. Ma’am, we are very grateful. We are also very grateful, Madame President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency, Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to be present (inaudible) us today. Ma’am, we are very grateful.
Your Excellency, looking at the many important role your company has played and continue to play as it relates to the security of (inaudible) reform in Liberia, do you have plans to provide some international training for the (inaudible) police training academy (inaudible) as a means of (inaudible)? And what about (inaudible) your government expects as it relates to the security sector (inaudible) in our country? Thank you, ma’am.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much for your commitment to serve along with all of the other recruits. As the president said, we are committed to security sector reform and to building a strong, positive, disciplined, professional security sector. And we have worked very closely with your military and are very proud of the progress that has been made there, and we have worked very closely with the United Nations and other donors along with the Liberian Government on behalf of the police training.
As I said in my remarks, we will be putting more money into police training. We will also be working with the government to determine what other needs are necessary, because I agree with President Sirleaf that in the absence of peace, security and stability, all of the other dreams for Liberia cannot be realized. So the fact that the president and the government have made secure – the security sector a principal, primary focus of the efforts of this government means that we will be your partner to make sure we do all we can to provide the training and the equipment and the support, along with other friends led by the United Nations.

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Clinton poses with a Liberian newspaper in Monrovia

Toast at Lunch Hosted by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me express how honored I am to be here both as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, and personally to be able finally to come to a country that has accomplished so much in such a short period of time against very long odds. (Applause.)I am very impressed by the efforts that are being made by the government and people of Liberia. I’m looking forward to addressing the legislative branch later this afternoon. I have been in both branches, both the executive and the legislative, and I know that for the good of the people, there must be cooperation and a consistent effort to achieve the goals that are set for the people’s betterment. So for all – (applause). For all that you have already done, recognizing still the difficult path forward, I would like to raise a glass. I would like to toast someone whom I admire. I will admit it. It’s not diplomatic, but I happen to be a fan and a friend of your president. (Applause.) And I will raise this glass to the people of Liberia, who deserve the chance to have a future worthy of their hard work, their resourcefulness, their resilience; a future of the peace and opportunity, the development and prosperity, that should be the birthright of every single boy and girl. God bless Liberia. (Applause.)

Remarks With Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

Video Link


PRESIDENT JOHNSON-SIRLEAF: Once again, I’m very pleased to welcome Secretary Clinton and her delegation to express on behalf of the Liberian people our thanks and appreciation, for Liberia has been included on the list of the African countries that she has visited during this tour. We have expressed to her how grateful we are for the partnership Liberia enjoys with the United States, the deep friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Liberia. We look forward to continuing to carry out our part of the bargain to move Liberia forward, open society, democracy, accountability, transparency, developing our country through proper use of our natural resources. And we also look forward to her support and the United States support of our endeavors as we seek to achieve our national development goals.
Thank you for coming, Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I am delighted to be here with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a leader whom I admire and someone who has provided great leadership for her country. I bring warm greetings from President Obama, both to the president and to the people of Liberia.
In our meeting, I conveyed a message to President Sirleaf that I’ve echoed at other points during this trip. The United States believes in America’s – in Africa’s promise and Africa’s future, and we particularly believe in the promise and future of Liberia. The relationship between our two countries goes back to the earliest days of your (inaudible).
Today, Liberia is a model of successful transition from conflict to post-conflict, from lawlessness to democracy, from despair to hope. For the last three years, the people of this country have been working to promote reform, reconstruction, and reconciliation. Liberia has adopted sound fiscal policy and seen strong economic growth. We just had a briefing about that, and it is impressive the way that Liberia has decreased its debt, which was run up, of course, during years of conflict, and has had a high rate of GDP growth over these last years. And the government is inclusive, especially for women, which I take great pleasure in noting.
President Sirleaf and I and her cabinet members and the members of government spoke about the work ahead. There is a very clear sense of direction that this government has demonstrated, and, of course, we have to continue to provide the support that Liberia so richly deserves.
Throughout my trip, I have underscored the reality that economic progress depends on good governance, adherence to the rule of law, sound economic policies. And the United States is proud to be contributing $17.5 million for programs to help Liberia ensure that the elections of 2011 are free and fair.
Later today, I will have the honor of addressing a joint session of the national legislature, and I will speak there about the crucial role of a legislature in providing responsible and responsive governance and championing national reconciliation. There is a lot to be done. And as a former senator myself, I know that effective legislating takes hard work, patience, and compromise, and (inaudible) is absolutely necessary. And Liberia today needs that kind of leadership from its elected representatives.
I will also visit the national police academy and speak to new police recruits, along with the president. Liberians need to know that they can rely on local authorities to protect them, and mothers should not be afraid to send their children to school, business owners should be assured that their shops will be safe, and investors confident that violence or corruption will not disrupt commerce. The local law enforcement needs the training and resources to do its job. And I am proud that the United States will be expanding its commitment to work with the Government of Liberia, the United Nations, and other partners to continue and complete the development of an effective, democratic (inaudible) police force here in Liberia.
We also are working to build new partnerships (inaudible) society and nongovernmental organizations and to encourage more trade and investment, and particularly the development of the agricultural sector. The people of Liberia have proven their strength, their resourcefulness, and their resilience. They hold their own future and the future of their country and their children in their hands. But the people of the United States are proud to stand with them and you, President Sirleaf, in working to deliver the kind of future that the people of this country deserve.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) first question from the international press (inaudible) Jeffrey (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say that this has been an absolutely wonderful trip. I am grateful to all of the countries who received me and my delegation. This was a very important trip that both President Obama and I wanted to make early in the Administration to send a very clear message that the Obama Administration is committed to developing an even stronger and closer relationship with not just the government, but especially the people of Africa. We are near the end of this trip, and it is only appropriate to be here in Liberia where our relationship goes back so many years. And at every stop, we have emphasized the importance of fulfilling what President Obama said in his historic speech in Ghana. The future of Africa is up to the Africans, just like the future of Liberia is up to Liberians.
But all of us know that given the conflicts and the challenges that have often prevented the African people from realizing their full potential, the United States stands ready to be a partner and a friend in helping to overcome the obstacles and create the environment for the kind of development that President Sirleaf is working on so hard here.
So I’ve had a great time on this trip. I opened this newspaper – I think she looks like she’s having a great time. And from my perspective, the most important part of this trip is the relationships that we have built, the commitments that we have discussed, the problems that we have honestly explored. We have not shied away from raising the difficult problems that exist and stand in the way of the people of Africa realizing their potential. And I think that will stand the test of time, and I’m very proud of the trip that we have made together.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
PRESIDENT JOHNSON-SIRLEAF: (Inaudible.) I’m pleased that corruption – long influenced, long covered – is now being exposed (inaudible) catapulted so that we can deal with it. We have already adopted anti-corruption strategies, we have tried to strengthen the institutional (inaudible) the anti-corruption commission. We have (inaudible) program. What we now need is to enforce and to implement all of those laws and institutional arrangements that we have put in place. (Inaudible) that our judiciary is (inaudible) fight and has taken steps to get (inaudible) that is committed to doing all it can to enforce the (inaudible).
It’s also (inaudible) benefit by increasing (inaudible), all of them has contributed to corruption. We now need for the public and the media to recognize the progress and to join us in this fight, which is not limited to government, but (inaudible) in all of the society. Together, we will win, we will slay this monster.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very impressed by the steps that Liberia is taking to combat corruption. Corruption is a problem everywhere. It is a cancer that eats away at the strength of institutions and the confidence of people in their government and in each other. And the steps that the president has just outlined are very important, more advanced than many other countries.
And remember, this has been a democracy for three years. And I think that the people of Liberia should continue to speak out against corruption, to demand changes, not just from the government, but from themselves and their societies, because that is important as well. And so from the actions that have been taken, we’ve seen a commitment by President Sirleaf and her government and the legislature which passed the laws. Now they have to implement them. You’ve got good laws on the books. Now they have to implement them. So I think that the emphasis that the president places on implementation is exactly right.
I also believe that the steps that have been taken in this post-conflict democracy to bring the country together are absolutely essential. I am very supportive of actions that will lead to the peace, reconciliation, and unity of Liberia. And I believe that President Sirleaf has been a very effective leader on behalf of the (inaudible) Liberia, and the United States officially supports what this government is doing. That is why we have put in so much aid over the years. It’s why we’re going to continue to be a strong partner with the Government of Liberia, because we see, in a very broad perspective, the difficulties that are being overcome and the successes that are being achieved in both meeting the problems, but also in seizing the opportunities that Liberia now has.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Our official commitment is we support what this government is doing and what President Sirleaf is doing, and are supporting the steps that are being taken.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: We can hear you. We can hear you, Michel.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m going to let the president address this, but of course, it’s a sign of support. We indeed have looked at the entire record that President Sirleaf brings to office, her performance in office, the accomplishments of the government she leads. And we are (inaudible) and will continue to be so because we think that Liberia is on the right track, as difficult as the path might be. And we will not underestimate the difficulties.
We just had a briefing from the agriculture minister, who is over there. (Inaudible) post-conflict era inherited a devastating agricultural sector. All the livestock were gone. They have been killed, eaten in the course of the conflict, which drives people from their homes, which forces them to have to survive. Many of the plant life was (inaudible) regeneration of agricultural productivity was decimated.
I look at what President Sirleaf has (inaudible) in the past two years, and I see a very accomplished leader dedicated to the betterment of the Liberian people, who has been consistent in her leadership on behalf of solving the problems that Liberia faces, to let Liberians (inaudible) a peaceful future with prosperity and opportunity.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) final question (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to our aid, we have provided a great deal of aid, and a significant amount directly to the government (inaudible) government (inaudible) providing technical assistance and other kinds of support (inaudible) to increase the capacity of the government to serve the people.
We are working to train the police force, which is something that the Government of Liberia places a very high priority on. We are working to help train the military. We are working in just about every sector of society. And some of it is direct support and some of it is to experts who have experience in performing the jobs that Liberia needs performed.
So it’s a mix and it will continue to be a mix, but we work very closely with the Liberian Government. We take their lead on what their priorities are, and we will continue to do so. Later today, I’ll be announcing some help for the airport. We think it’s important to try to upgrade the airport so that you can get more flights in and out of Monrovia that can then enhance the economic growth of the country. We have a very large food security program that President Obama has announced, and Liberia will be a good partner state to work with. So we will be working with the government, with small and medium-sized farmers and food processors.
So there’s a variety of approaches that we try to do to find the best way to solve the problems or to deliver the results. We are constantly asking ourselves, as is the government here in Liberia: Is this the best way, and how can we do it better? And we will (inaudible) that, because our goal is to help you solve the problems and create the environment for further growth. That’s what we want to do, and to help you solidify democracy and good governance and the rule of law, and root out corruption and have a security force that will protect your people. All of that is what the Liberian Government and the Liberian people have requested. So we will continue to work on that.
And I have no other – nothing to add to your second question that I haven’t already said.
PRESIDENT JOHNSON-SIRLEAF: Secretary Clinton, let me not let that impression go unaddressed. It is not correct to say that U.S. aid has not had an impact. If you look at where we were two and a half years ago and you look at the development today under each of our four pillars in the poverty reduction strategy, you see roads being constructed, you see buildings that are (inaudible), you see farms starting to operate again. We do not enjoy direct budgetary support from the United States because that is the policy of the United States. But the NGOs and several other programs do (inaudible) with our development agenda and our (inaudible) priorities. Thank you.
PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thank you. Thank you very much.

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Well, I am about to snap that anybody would write an article like this about this pantsuit or any of Hillary’s pantsuits, or about Hillary’s signature style. This article by Anne Bratskeir appeared in an online Newsday blog today: Hillary Clinton pantsuit saga continues .

First and foremost let me make it clear that pantsuits should be the least of our issues when Hillary is on her longest trip, has visited incredibly dangerous places, made audacious and courageous statements, and signed agreements of great importance for development in Africa and the evolution of democracy there. Having said that, I must object strongly to this uninformed article by someone who has not bothered to investigate what Hillary is doing and prefers to critique her attire.

07-28-09-3_cropHillary prefers pants for the same reason many women who are photographed seated at times or must sit in front of people do. She often does wear separates, your novel suggestion – or that of one of your consultants. But she goes monochromatic often because it lengthens her appearance. I, personally think she looks smashing in her pantsuits. She is gorgeous in this.

Apparently lost on you is the fact that Hillary often USES the “jelly bean” colors you refer to as a code. This is something SHE can do that men cannot, and it is VERY effective diplomatically. THE WHOLE COUNTRY OF EL SALVADOR loved this:
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ALL OF CANADA celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of the Border Waters Treaty (um, with the United States – Oh right! You would never know since she was shown talking about North Korea and Iran that Saturday, but the TV news never SAID she was in Canada or why). When she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Canadians tweeted joyfully, “Here’s HRC in red for Canada!”
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At the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue July 28, 2009, her red pantsuit was not lost on THE ENTIRE CHINESE DELEGATION. chinese conference

In short, Anne, the color-coded pantsuits are more than her signature item, they speak a language of foreign relations that is very powerful to the people in countries she visits. They may not understand English, and she may not speak their tongue, but people are always impressed when a diplomat wears their national colors. Hillary knows this. It is a very powerful image. Hillary knows the significance of color, and, in fact, she looks beautiful in these colors – why do you want to drab her up? She sparkles, and the world LOVES it!

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As for the suit you refer to as “mango,” that one, too, has some special significance to the Homegirls here. I don’t expect you to know that, but please respect it and do not criticize a pantsuit that we hold dear for many reasons that would be lost on you. Leave THIS one alone, Anne. Step AWAY FROM THE PANTSUIT! The Homegirls love it!
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Homegirls wishing to voice their opinions directly to Anne can email her here: anne.bratskeir@newsday.com

Edited to added the flag diplomacy pantsuit collection.
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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton is greeted by Han, South Korean ambassador to the U.S., upon her arrival at a military airport in Seongnam

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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton welcomes Argentina's Foreign Minister Timerman in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomes Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman to the U.S. State Department in Washington

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Gilani shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton at his residence in Islamabad

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Clinton arrives for a news conference with Westerwelle at the State Department in Washington

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul

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U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton listens during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul

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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton is welcomed by Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Verhagen as she arrives at the World Furum Conference Centre in the Hague

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Hillary Clinton Gives Press Conference In Kabul

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with El Salvador's President Elias Antonio Saca during a private meeting in a hotel in San Salvador

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Cross-posted from The Department of Homegirl Security.

 

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-08/12/09  Interview With Mo Abudu of “Moments with Mo”;  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Abuja, Nigeria
-08/12/09  Interview With Umar Said Tudun Wada of Radio Freedom Kano;  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Abuja, Nigeria

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Meet and Greet With Embassy Personnel and Their Families

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Abuja, Nigeria
August 12, 2009

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Good afternoon, team Nigeria.
EMBASSY PERSONNEL: Good afternoon.
AMBASSADOR SANDERS: It is my distinct pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.) Welcome, Madame Secretary, to the home of the American people here in Nigeria. Madame Secretary, we are 960 members strong, American direct-hire, locally engaged staff, with our three dynamic summer interns that are right there in front of us, Michael, Wesley, and Taylour. We represent eight U.S. Government agencies in Abuja and Lagos, all working to support your framework on democracy and development to advance the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship.
We are far from home, but we are very close as a community, representing the values and the principles that define America wherever we are. We here all believe that Nigeria is one of the most important countries on the continent for the United States. And we as team Nigeria, as we call ourselves, have been actively working on programs aimed at advancing your goal. It takes a team, Madame Secretary, to run the U.S. mission in Nigeria, and you have a superb team here that works very hard every day to make you proud.
Therefore, Madame Secretary, I would like to invite you to the podium to personally meet and welcome the Embassy staff and their family members, team Nigeria. Can I get a big team Nigeria welcome for the Secretary? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is so great to be here with all of you. And I thank the ambassador for that warm introduction of me to team Nigeria. I am delighted to see all of you. I know how hard you work and what an essential post this is. And I want to be sure to pass on my greetings and appreciation to our team in Lagos as well.
The ambassador is absolutely right. Nigeria is one of the most important countries to the United States. It is a leader in Africa and it is a country that we want to deepen and broaden our relationship with going forward. I had some very productive and constructive meetings earlier today with government officials, of course with the foreign minister, but with others as well.
We just finished a meeting at the ambassador’s residence with former presidents, a former chief justice, a former president of the senate, talking about the challenges facing Nigeria. I’ve given the same message everywhere I’ve gone, that we think the best days of Nigeria can be ahead of this country. It has so much potential, unlimited promise. But there has to be a recognition of the challenges that stand in the way to Nigeria realizing that potential and promise. And so we have offered our assistance, and through you who provide support and assistance to our mission here every single day.
The foreign minister and I agreed to set up a bi-national commission so that we could pursue our discussions in-depth on all of the areas that we should be cooperating on and the support we can give to Nigeria to build up government capacity to take on corruption, to be more transparent and accountable, to deal with security issues in the Gulf of Guinea and the Niger Delta. So it’s an exciting time for me to be here, and I am looking forward to following up on this trip.
But I wanted to just say a few words of thanks to all of you and to congratulate you for the work you’ve done with PEPFAR, helping Nigeria confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic, working on election monitoring. And we’ve emphasized with the Nigerian Government they must have an election reform and an electoral commission so that the next election really works and has credibility and legitimacy for the people of this country.
We know that this team represents a lot of interagency cooperation, which is a model. But I think ultimately, as I have said throughout my trip in Africa, echoing the words of President Obama in Ghana, the future of Africa is up to the Africans. The future of Nigeria is up to the Nigerians. I would not be here if I did not believe that future could be positive, if I did not believe that we could, working together, realize the goals of development, electricity generation, food security, road construction, education, and health care that the Nigerian people are seeking and deserve.
So we view this relationship as very, very important, and I view you as our extension of our U.S. Government. I thank all of our Foreign Service officers, our Civil Service, our agency representatives from across our government, and particularly our locally engaged staff, without whom we could not run this mission or any other.
I also know, because I have traveled extensively on behalf of our country now for about 17 years, that when a visitor like me comes, it imposes extra work on all of you. In addition to having to do everything you do every day, then you’ve got to worry about my schedule and my delegation and all of the challenges that go into making up such a visit. Well, I think it’s a very successful visit. It’s about halfway through. We have more to do this afternoon and tonight, but I am very grateful for everything that you did to make it so successful.
But there is a custom, I understand – I’ve seen it in practice – that when finally tomorrow morning you see me take off – (laughter) – heading to be somebody else’s responsibility – in this case, Liberia – that you have earned a wheels-up party. (Laughter.) And I think that that certainly is the case, because this has been early on in the Administration a real goal that the President and I share. So I thank you so much for everything you’re doing, and I want to tell you how proud I am to be your Secretary of State and to work with you on behalf of a stronger, deeper relationship between the United States and Nigeria.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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US Secretary of State Clinton is escorted by Nigerian FM Maduekwe after addressing a news conference in Abuja

Remarks With Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Abuja, Nigeria
August 12, 2009

MODERATOR: The Secretary of State of the United States and (inaudible) Maduekwe.
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: Well, ladies and gentlemen of the media, we are delighted here to (inaudible). We had a very, very wonderful session with the Secretary of State of the United States of America, both as – in our own personal capacity (inaudible) of Nigeria.
And of course, we have, with the Secretary of State – I had the privilege of an early meeting with her at the State Department. We spoke on the phone. She called me for this (inaudible) office. There is no more powerful symbolism. A very busy Secretary of State, a very powerful foreign minister, (inaudible) desire to wage (inaudible) with Nigeria as – in the spirit of dealing with Nigeria. And of course, she is here, but at a very difficult time, speaking of (inaudible) meeting (inaudible) officials (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much, Minister, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity that you have afforded me today, first for an important bilateral meeting on matters of foreign affairs, and then a larger extended meeting with many ministers, members of parliament, and even a representative, the chair of the governors’ forum.
I appreciate also the opportunity to meet here in Nigeria and to develop even stronger ties of friendship and partnership between the people of our two nations. The United States views Nigeria as a friend, an ally, and a partner on so many important issues, as well as an important country in Africa and increasingly, globally. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, its largest producer of oil, its largest contributor of peacekeepers, a significant trading partner for the United States, and the largest recipient of American direct investment by the private sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.
So given all that, it is critical for the people of Nigeria, first and foremost, but indeed for the United States, that Nigeria succeeds in fulfilling its promise. And in our meeting, I reiterated our appreciation for the strong role that Nigeria has played on the continent. I think it’s important to emphasize that without Nigeria, Liberia might not be a free country, Sierra Leone might not have ended decades of war. The role that Nigeria is playing in the Sudan – the recent commander of the peacekeepers in Sudan was, of course, a Nigerian.
On so many important issues, Nigeria reaches out to the African continent to provide technical assistance and advice. And Nigeria has been particularly active on key international and regional issues from Zimbabwe to Niger, and spoke out strongly against the coups in Mauritania and Guinea. Nigerian peacekeepers are increasingly viewed around the world. I saw some of them yesterday in eastern Congo as among the best that can be provided. This puts a burden on the Nigerian Government, which we recognize and express our appreciation for.
Nigeria is also a very strong partner with the United States on the military-to-military front. We’re increasingly working together on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, one of the most critical and dangerous places because of the combination of rebel movements, drug traffickers, gun runners, and other criminal elements.
We also appreciate the increasing cooperation we’ve received from Nigeria on counterterrorism, on our joint efforts against the scourge of drugs. And I want to applaud Nigeria for the progress that it made in a relatively short period of time moving up to Tier 1 in our annual report on human trafficking. We know that was a concerted commitment by the Nigerian Government, and they really stepped up.
Now we know too that Nigeria faces a range of tough challenges, including the challenges of government capacity and the rule of law and corruption and keeping this large, diverse country moving forward. And therefore, we strongly support and encourage the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption, and provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections. I noted that the president, who has been pushing an agenda that includes electoral reform, security in the Niger Delta, has really put himself out there to try to deliver. And we support these efforts and talked specifically about how the United States might be able to encourage the electoral forums, including the creation of an independent electoral council in preparation for the next elections.
We also support the Nigerian Government’s comprehensive political framework approach toward resolving the conflict in the Niger Delta. This process, as it was explained to me by several of the ministers who were present, is incorporating the region’s stakeholders as absolutely essential, focusing on the region’s development needs, separating out the militants and the unreconcilables from those who deserve amnesty and want to be part of building a better future for that part of Nigeria. And we have offered, again, our support and that of the international community.
The minister and I agreed to establish a bi-national commission that will look at the broad range of issues not only at the federal government, but I particularly appreciated the minister’s invitation to the chair of the governors’ forum. Because coming from our country, we know how much work gets done at the state and local level. And therefore, we see an opportunity to have this bi-national commission work at the federal and national level, as well as on the local and state level.
So it’s a pleasure to be here and to pursue and further develop this strong relationship that means so much to both of our countries.
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: Thank you, Secretary. Before we take on some – a few questions for (inaudible) program, (inaudible) the fact that there is a national consensus strongly in favor of all the issues that the Secretary of State has raised, and other concerns which have been expressed. We do offer (inaudible) of the famous statement by (inaudible) politicians, like (inaudible), who once said that – seriously, (inaudible). And (inaudible) we do recognize that where we get the same strength from our own people, not all those criticisms are intended to annoy or provoke (inaudible). Rather, they are based on a genuine concern that maybe we should do better, (inaudible).
And we extend that feeling also to our friends, our development partners in the original sense. I also wish to underscore the prime minister of Nigeria that it is a national concern too – very strongly in favor of issues of – that has democracy, a deep commitment to rule of law, electoral reforms, and as I told the Secretary of State, if there’s any doubt to those commitments in terms of promise and performance, those matters can be addressed (inaudible) within the context of building state capacity, which has been permitted over time for all those history (inaudible).
And that is where the bi-national commission is of such useful and (inaudible) importance, as it’s – there you have a warehouse for global best practices that enable us (inaudible) capacity of our time. And we’ll definitely make all of the difficulties and problems become history as Nigeria marches to its manifest destiny. (Inaudible.)
MODERATOR: We shall take two questions from the Nigerian press as well as two from the American traveling press. I’m going to start with (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yes. My question is to the Secretary of State. You’ve said over and over again that corruption remains endemic on the continent and, by extension in Nigeria. My worry is this: The West, as you may (inaudible) position (inaudible), and there appears to be no initiative whatsoever – suggestions going forward. Consider the leadership of America (inaudible), to ensure that funds from this part of the world (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: This is an area that I want to work on with the minister and with the government. I’ll just give you a quick example. It’s one that I’ve used across Africa, because it’s an African example, and that is the country of Botswana. Botswana, as you may know, has a very vibrant democracy. It’s a very stable country. And it has used the revenues from its natural resource, which, in its case, happens to be diamonds, and put it into a fund, protected that fund from exploitation by foreigners and exploitation by citizens. It said to the countries that were exploiting the diamonds, and to their companies, you have to have an agreement with us that leads to investments in the people of Botswana.
So for example, when you buy a diamond from De Beers, part of that money still today goes to help build and maintain roads and clean water systems in Botswana. You can drive anywhere in that country and you can see services that have been paid for by a legal framework, strong regulations, and a national consensus that the money from the earth and its riches should be spent on the people of Botswana.
Now, companies still make a profit doing business there. Individuals still do well. But they have protected their national patrimony, and I think it’s an example for the rest of the continent, and I think we will explore some of these ideas, and of course, it is up to the people of Nigeria to determine what is best for you. But I want to be sure that I do what I can to put forth ideas that will protect the natural resources of Africa for the African people.
MODERATOR: Susan Pleming from Reuters.
QUESTION: This is a question for Mr. Minister. Violence has been crippling production in the Delta, with Angola actually surpassing Nigeria as an oil producer. When do you expect levels to go up? And what – you’ve offered amnesty to some of the rebels. What guarantee do you have that they’re not going to take up arms again and that will set down production levels again and that you’ll be in the same position?
And then another second question is: What’s happening with the oil laws? That was drawn up when oil was $140 a barrel. It’s still not gone through parliament. But where do you see that going, and how are you going to sustain investor confidence in that oil law?
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: Good questions. In dealing with the Niger Delta challenge, evidently, the same (inaudible) amnesty, we clearly understood that there was (inaudible) in dealing with that. All the talks, we’re not going to be putting off a belief they may have (inaudible). They will need to take a leap of faith. And that leap of faith is demonstrated by a president’s generosity, the president’s willingness to say yes, even though terrible things have happened in terms of criminality (inaudible).
And without justifying the violence that (inaudible) to those (inaudible) activities – define those activities – there is an issue of justice, an issue of degradation (inaudible) that is a historic injustice over time.
And so where some of those who (inaudible) is therefore away from the (inaudible), because (inaudible) love for evidence and of pure personal profit and criminal profiting (inaudible), it would be hard to reset – reset the computer, so to speak, unless that problem were (inaudible).
Now the president is very optimistic and we want to believe there is a place for that optimism, that by the end of the year, the political traction with the amnesty is still (inaudible). The response to it should be able to bring about a restoration of peace and a decrease and —
QUESTION: (Inaudible) about —
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: A restoration of peace and decrease and a sharp reduction in violence. Now you asked – by nature, not really, but (inaudible) and what has been the operation resulting from the violence and decrease? (Inaudible) the civil war where was it – and it ended, the civil war ended, and the (inaudible) close to that. We believe – we’re optimistic that by the end of this year, (inaudible).
On the second point you made, the second thing you asked, yes, right now, that view is national (inaudible). That view, again, is very (inaudible), it’s very detailed, it’s very comprehensive, and that view, in many ways, reflects some of the best practices that have fallen (inaudible) by the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: What about oil levels? When are you expecting the (inaudible) the situation (inaudible)?
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: Already, it’s coming up. It’s improving. In terms of near perception that this is coming back, amnesty’s working, (inaudible) gradually coming up.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Nigeria.
QUESTION: Still going back to United (inaudible) issues (inaudible), I wanted to know how far the American Government and (inaudible) the Nigerian Government in dealing with (inaudible) to come back instead (inaudible) foreign companies (inaudible) America (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the defense minister was present at the second larger meeting that the foreign minister convened, and he had some very specific suggestions as to how the United States could assist the Nigerian Government in their efforts, which we think are very promising, to try to bring peace and stability to the Niger Delta. We will be following up on those. There is nothing that has been decided. But we have a very good working relationship between our two militaries.
So I will be talking with my counterpart, the Secretary of Defense, and we will, through our joint efforts, through our bi-national commission mechanism, determine what Nigeria would want from us for help, because we know this is an internal matter, we know this is up to the Nigerian people and their government to resolve, and then look to see how we would offer that assistance.
MODERATOR: And last person on the list, Jeffrey Gettlemen of The New York Times.
QUESTION: Thank you for that introduction.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Does he know you? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I wanted to ask about the religious violence a couple weeks ago. And this first part of the question is for both of you, please. How concerned are you that this is part of a broader trend of Islamic extremism sweeping across North Africa? And is there any evidence that there was foreign links to what happened here, either al-Qaida or other groups operating in (inaudible)?
And then the second part of the question is for you, Madame Secretary. What did you think of the way they responded? And do you condone how they handled the uprising?
FOREIGN MINISTER MADUEKWE: Let me say, please, about Nigerians – whether of this Muslim faith, the (inaudible) part of Nigeria or the Christian faith, we have (inaudible) Christian heritage a part of (inaudible) too. And our population is (inaudible) by Islam (inaudible).
One thing you can say about Nigerian believers of any of the (inaudible) faiths is that they have a deficit in societal impulses. We are far from being fanatics by nature. For one, we love life. We love there is heaven, but we don’t want to get there by doing stupid things before we get there. So I can say this on record, that the kind of fundamentality that defies the wishes of the Almighty God, by taking other people’s lives, and there’s nowhere in the Quran or in the Bible where that (inaudible), that kind of fanaticism can never take hold in the culture of Nigeria.
But I must admit that from time to time, there has been this spasm of violence which comes across in the name of religion that really is not based on religion. It’s not – (inaudible) for political reasons that some young impressionable people are rather exploited by some power with (inaudible). Nothing can justify it. (Inaudible) is being confronted. We have (inaudible) – in this government, and that’s what the rule of law is about – and we are moving beyond the old matter of saying, well, look for peace first, look for settlement, perhaps if you punish back to (inaudible), no. Well, look (inaudible) that work out.
Our determination is to punish through the process of rule of law when there is this kind of incidents. So about the recent one that happened or because of external (inaudible) securities, look here at (inaudible). Is it possible that some fanatical group which is alien to our culture are beginning to try to (inaudible)? We know that the entire world is faced with those possibilities, and we don’t want to be naïve to think that Nigeria is not on the radar of such extremist groups. And then again, where there’s so much (inaudible) and fighting and importance for us to work very closely with (inaudible), since we all face common concerns (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jeffrey, my view on this is that the balance within Nigeria between religions and among ethnic groups is very important to maintain, and I think you heard the minister’s words about that and certainly, the society’s commitment to that. I don’t know enough to comment on the specifics of any operation with respect to the reaction to the extremist-generated violence.
But I would say this: I think there is no doubt from our assessments that al-Qaida has a presence in Northern Africa, in the Sahel. There is no doubt in our mind that al-Qaida and like organizations that are part of the syndicate of terror would seek a foothold anywhere they could find one. And whether that is the case here or whether this is a homegrown example of fundamentalist extremism, that’s up to the Nigerians to determine.
But I understand the very important priority that the Nigerians place on keeping this balance of religion and ethnic groups in place. And I know that this is a challenge we all face, as the minister said, and I assume that the government will look at its own actions as well as continue the investigation into what might have, if anything, been involved or behind what we saw in the (inaudible) incident. Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible), we come to the end of this briefing, and Madame Secretary, (inaudible) and members of the American delegation (inaudible). Thank you.

Joint Press Availability With Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Abuja, Nigeria
August 12, 2009

Video Link


Excerpt from AP video of Secretary Clinton’s Joint Press Availability with Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe

SECRETARY CLINTON: And therefore we strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption, provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Al Qaida has a presence in northern Africa, in the Sahel. There’s no doubt in our mind that al Qaida and like organisations that are part of the syndicate of terror would seek a foothold anywhere they could find one, and whether that is the case here or whether this is a home-grown example of fundamentalist extremism, that’s up to the Nigerians to determine.

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Remarks at Interfaith Outreach Roundtable

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Yar’Adua Center, Abuja, Nigeria
August 12, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me introduce to you, those who have not met her, our Ambassador, Robin Sanders, and our Assistant Secretary for Africa, Ambassador Johnnie Carson. Please. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Good afternoon. (Speaking in different languages.) I have the singular pleasure this afternoon to not only welcome and introduce to you the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Secretary Hillary Clinton, but I also have the double honor of introducing you, the leaders of the interfaith community of Nigeria, this great nation, to her.
I would also like to recognize Assistant Secretary Carson. As you know, the Secretary is here to have an interactive session with you about all of the wonderful things that you’re doing in the interfaith community, and certainly in areas of development. I know that from your hard work, you’re very focused on the respect for the diversity of religion, ethnicity, and certainly of community. I know that you have said to me that you are focused on this issue because we are all one. And with that, I will turn it over to Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Ambassador, and thank you again to each and every one of you for coming this afternoon. I am very grateful that you would be with us and we would have this opportunity, as the ambassador just said, to discuss and mostly for me to listen to those of you who are working in the interfaith efforts here in Nigeria.
I think promoting understanding between and among faiths is one of the most important tasks ahead of our world. And certainly, here in Nigeria, that is something that you have undertaken with great commitment. And for me also, it is a pleasure to be in Nigeria. I’ve had excellent conversations with the elected officials and the ministers with whom I have met today.
And there has been a constant theme running through our discussions that Nigeria is at a crossroads, and it has been a path of great effort that has brought this country to this point through independence, persevering through war and difficulties, and seeing the peaceful transfer of power from one civilian elected government to another. But that the road ahead has many, many challenges that have to be addressed in order for Nigeria to realize its full potential.
So I know that the press is going to be leaving us and perhaps before they go, we could hear an opening prayer. The press – we should pray for the press as well as we pray for everyone else. (Laughter.) And I think Sheikh Lamu, you were perhaps going to offer the invocation. Is that correct?
MODERATOR: Yes, yes, yes.
PARTICIPANT: (Speaking in different language.) On that note, I’d like to ask you – we stand to God for all his greats, for all his blessings, with all his mercy on this day in particular, other nations, and humanitarian (inaudible). We pray to God to continue the dialogue that (inaudible) in various countries and lead us steadily to make the interrelationship better and the relationship – international relationship is for coexistence, and so that there is – in every incarnation.
We stand to God, who has brought Your Excellency safely to our nation. We pray God to return you and your (inaudible) and all other stakeholders, there is (inaudible) destiny, (inaudible) in view of the role you are playing in the international peace, in international unity, and mutual understanding. We pray for – to guide you, guide you (inaudible), guiding (inaudible), and guiding of all citizens of both Nigeria and America.
Finally, we pray God to return each one of us safely (inaudible) destination, and please, happiness and thankfulness to God, the Almighty. (Speaking in different language.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Sheikh Lamu. I’m very grateful that both you and the archbishop are here joining us today. I know that the future of this country certainly depends upon good governance, adherence to the rule of law, the fight against corruption and impunity and the struggle for transparency and accountability in government.
But it also requires respect and understanding among religions, and particularly between Islam and Christianity, the two large religions almost evenly divided in Nigeria. And to many people who look at Nigeria with the very extraordinary balance that you have managed, it is fair to say that some see a miracle. But I see a lot of hard work and a lot of efforts by clerics and other religious leaders, by the sheikhs and the pastors and the reverends and others who are here around this table and so many more, because there is no doubt in my mind that the miracle of Nigeria rests on the individual actions taken millions of times a day to promote understanding and respect.

 

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Town Hall with Civil Society Representatives on Good Governance and Transparency

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Yar’Adua Center
Abuja, Nigeria
August 12, 2009

MR. ERUBAMI: Your Excellency, distinguished leaders of (inaudible). I am (inaudible). (Applause.)
We are engaged in the (inaudible) democracy and (inaudible). I stand before you tonight (inaudible). We are here to honor our distinguished (inaudible) Ms. Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much (inaudible). That reminded me of an old American television show where Ed McMahon used to introduce Johnny Carson by saying, “And here’s Johnny.” (Laughter and applause.)
Well, I am absolutely delighted to be here. I’m very grateful to TMG and all of the partners who helped to organize this event. I apologize for keeping you waiting. I’ve had such an extraordinary schedule of meetings today, and I just finished a very interesting and important dialogue with leaders of both the Muslim and Christian communities. And I had to listen to everyone, because everyone had something very important to say.
I want to thank you for the work that all of you do. Moshood listed off all of the different affiliations that are represented here. But you are here, in part, because you care about your country. You have worked on behalf of the public or the private sector, civil society, the faith communities, because of your commitment to a better future.
I am here on behalf of President Obama and our Administration and my country to deepen and strengthen our relationship. We have had a long history of friendship and partnership with Nigeria, and we want to do even more. But we recognize, as I have told the government officials with whom I have met today, that Nigeria is at a crossroads, and it is imperative that citizens be engaged and that civic organizations be involved in helping to chart the future of this great nation.
I started my trip in Africa about – over – about a week or so ago – I’ve lost track of time – in Kenya. I was at a town hall meeting much like this at the University of Nairobi, and one of the people in the audience was my friend and a former Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. And she said something which has stuck with me as I have traveled across this extraordinary continent. She said, “Africa is a rich continent. The gods must have been on our side when they created the planet, and yet we are poor.”
I have seen the best and the most distressing of what is happening in Africa today. Yesterday, I was in eastern Congo, one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, yet one that is replete with human misery. Today, I am in Nigeria, a country that produces 2 million barrels of oil a day, has the seventh-largest natural gas reserves of any country in the world, but according to the United Nations, the poverty rate in Nigeria has gone up from 46 percent to 76 percent over the last 13 years.
Now, there are many reasons why Nigeria has struggled. There is the destructive legacy of colonialism, there are wars, including a devastating civil war. There are other external forces. But as President Obama said in Ghana in his historic speech, the future of Africa is up to the Africans, and the future of Nigeria is up to the Nigerians. The most immediate source of the disconnect between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the local, state, and federal level. (Applause.)
And some of that is due, as you know so well, to corruption, others of it to a lack of capacity or mismanagement. But the World Bank recently concluded that Nigeria has lost well over $300 billion during the last three decades as a result of all of these problems. And therefore, it is imperative that we look at where Nigeria is today and, in the spirit of friendship and partnership, of a country that has made its own mistakes, has had its own problems, we look for ways to help one another, and particularly to help the people of this country.
The raw numbers, 300 billion, 2 million barrels of oil – they’re staggering. But they don’t tell you how many hospitals and roads could have been built. They don’t tell you how many schools could have opened, or how many more Nigerians could have attended college, or how many mothers might have survived childbirth if that money had been spent differently. The lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state. We deplore the attacks perpetrated by any armed group, whether they be religious extremists, militias, or criminals. But addressing the challenges that they and the poverty of the country pose takes more than action by your excellent military or your police. It requires fixing Nigeria’s flawed electoral system – (applause) – establishing a truly independent electoral council.
In order to create a peaceful, stable environment that creates development among the people, citizens need to have confidence that their votes count, that their government cares about them, that democracy can deliver basic services. They need to know that officials will be replaced if they break the law or fail to deliver what they have promised. (Applause.) And they each know that Nigeria’s natural resources, particularly your oil and your gas, will be used to invest in social development programs that benefit all Nigerians, particularly the poorest. We stand ready to work with you and with your government and with civil society to help realize these goals.
The foundation of a democracy is trust. And a democracy doesn’t always behave perfectly. And a democracy is not just about elections. It’s about an independent judiciary and a free press and the protection of minority rights and an active legislative body that holds the executive accountable. It is about building those democratic institutions.
Again, to refer to President Obama’s speech, what Africa needs is not more strong men, it needs more strong democratic institutions that will stand the test of time. (Applause.) Without good governance, no amount of oil or no amount of aid, no amount of effort can guarantee Nigeria’s success. But with good governance, nothing can stop Nigeria. It’s the same message that I have carried in all of my meetings, including my meeting this afternoon with your president. The United States supports the 7-point agenda for reform that was outlined by President Yar’Adua. We believe that delivering on roads and on electricity and on education and all the other points of that agenda will demonstrate the kind of concrete progress that the people of Nigeria are waiting for.
We also believe that civil society has a very big job to do. And by civil society, I include all of the organizations that are formed by citizens, the NGOs, the faith-based groups, everyone working together. You have already helped to elevate the ideals of democracy, but now you must use the political system to encourage Nigeria’s leaders to serve the common good. There need to be watchdog groups, like NEDI to push for transparency. There need to be journalists, including many of you in this audience, who will shine a bright light on any abuses of the public trust or those who would enrich themselves at the expense of Nigeria’s citizens; independent courts and prosecutors, institutions to punish wrongdoers and deter future wrongdoing; citizens who persist and persevere often against long odds.
The capacity for good governance exists in Africa and it exists right here in Nigeria. We have seen it in many places, and we have seen it here in Nigeria. I know that it doesn’t sometimes feel like it’s possible because the climb is so high, but I have great confidence in what Nigeria is capable of doing. If you think about it, you’ve had one election that has made a peaceful transfer of civilian authority to civilian authority. And to the president – your president’s great credit, at his own inaugural address, he admitted that the election that put him in office had been flawed. (Applause.) And I think that there are the ingredients, the ingredients of determination, of effort, that must be mixed into a cake that all of Nigeria can feel they have a part in making and enjoying.
We have seen good governance in other places in your government, such as the action taken recently by all sectors of Nigerian society to fight human trafficking. We watched Nigeria make changes and moved it into the top tier of countries in the world because the society decided to solve a problem. (Applause.)
You have worked with international partners, along with my own country. We’ve seen the start of promising reforms, including reductions in trade barriers and closer cooperation on health care challenges. But there is so much more we can do together. This morning, the foreign minister and I agreed that we would create a bi-national commission to look at all of these issues, to see where the United States could provide technical assistance and support as the changes are made. There are many electoral systems, for example, that work very well in complex societies like Nigeria’s. Think about India where you have 500-600 million people voting. The poorest of the poor in remote areas with no electricity, none of the amenities, vote on computers so that when the results are announced, no one questions them. Think about Indonesia, which has only been a democracy for 10 years, a young democracy like Nigeria’s. After years of military rule and so many problems, they have just completed a hard-fought election with parties that that contested. And there was a winner, and everyone accepted it.
Now, I know a little bit about running in elections – (laughter and applause) – and I have won some elections and I have lost some elections. (Laughter.) And in a democracy, there have to be winners and losers. And part of creating a strong democratic system is that the losers, despite how badly we might feel, accept the outcome because it is for the good of the country that we love. (Applause.)
And of course, in my country, the man I was running against and spent a lot of time and effort to defeat asked me to join his government. (Applause.) So there is a – there is a way to begin to make this transition that will lead to free and fair elections in 2011. We will work with you. We believe so strongly in Nigeria’s positive future. We are grateful for what Nigeria has already done. Tomorrow, I will be in Liberia. The people of Liberia owe their freedom to you – (applause) – the Nigerians, your military, your leaders. The people across Africa owe so much to you. But now, you owe it to yourselves to make sure that your country, which I believe should be not just a leader in Africa, but a leader in the world, produces the kind of results that the intelligence and the hard work of the Nigerian people are capable of producing.
No matter how much President Obama and I want this future for you, it will be up to you to decide whether it happens or not. You are the ones with both the opportunity and the responsibility. But I want you to know, as you walk this path to a stronger democracy that produces results for your people to lift the development of Nigeria up, that you will have us by your side.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MR. ERUBAMI: Thank you very much. Thank you, Madame Secretary, for that insightful (inaudible). We thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now moving to the question-and-answer session. As I announced earlier, I said Madame Secretary will participate in that. (Inaudible) when you ask a question, please just state your name, identify your affiliation, and ask one concise question. We have limited time here, but we need to give as much time as possible to our honored guests to be able to answer all your questions.
Now let me know who wants to ask the questions. (Laughter.) I will be giving the assignments to (inaudible). Yes, the man in white here. Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And there’s a microphone coming toward you, sir. Here it comes.
QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Tony Uranta (ph). I’m the secretary general of the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security (inaudible). It is a coalition of all NGOs and ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta.
Madame Secretary, I thank you for your speech. I noticed you did not mention anything about the Niger Delta. It is (inaudible) we must accept that Nigeria’s future and the world ‘s energy dependence on Nigeria depends to a large – depends to a large extent – depends to a large extent on the Niger Delta.
Now, right now, there is a process towards peace in the region. (Inaudible) like to know –
PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let him finish.
QUESTION: What we’d like to know exactly how will the United States and the Obama Administration actively and positively help in this process of peace in this region so as to help Nigeria.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Well, of course, this was a short speech, so I did not mention everything I could have mentioned. And I have talked at great length about the Niger Delta. I met with the minister who is now responsible for the Niger Delta. I discussed the amnesty program with both the minister, the defense minister, the president, the foreign minister. And the United States supports the process going forward. We think that having a political process is absolutely essential.
We also know that there are many people who are involved in the challenges and difficulties, such as yourself, who know that there must be more development in the Niger Delta, that there has to be a dedicated stream of revenue in order to make up for some of the environmental degradation and some of the lost jobs and to create a more stable life for the people of the Niger Delta.
So from what I have been told, I think that the government, under the president’s leadership, has the right idea of having a multiply-pronged approach to dealing with the Niger Delta. Now, we are also concerned about the larger question of security in the Gulf of Guinea and the maritime security needs that are becoming more apparent. So we’ve also discussed what help we could give Nigeria on that. But the primary focus should be on trying to resolve the legitimate concerns of the people of the Niger Delta.
MR. ERUBAMI: Thank you very much. (Inaudible.) Please deliver the microphone.
QUESTION: The Secretary of State from the United State, my name is (inaudible) and I’m vice president of (inaudible) which is made up of (inaudible) possibly the largest in the continent. My question is this. (Inaudible) but I’m also (inaudible) I want to remind you that (inaudible) Nigeria was (inaudible) independent, democratic Nigeria, who had a very rich democratic heritage. (Inaudible) that election conducted (inaudible) free and fair, that the (inaudible). I mean (inaudible) very possible it would (inaudible). Now, my question is this. (Inaudible) the nature of internal democratic process (inaudible) United States (inaudible) the very living history (inaudible) living history like you (inaudible) Obama (inaudible) you know, in a free and fair election, because (inaudible) if indeed (inaudible) is so weak . I mean (inaudible) election in his own party (inaudible). So we want to share from you (inaudible) we build (inaudible) because we can’t give what we don’t have internally (inaudible). Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very – as I understand your question about the democratic process, let me just – you are the experts on your process, but let me just make a few points. As I understand it, Nigeria has no system for registering voters. Is that right? You have no registration system.
AUDIENCE: (All at once.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is nationwide; is that right?
AUDIENCE: (All at once.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me just say that one of the —
MR. ERUBAMI: Attention, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: One of the fundamental foundations of a free and fair election system is to know who’s eligible to vote and to keep track of who is eligible to vote. And I know that the electoral commission, under your former chief justice, made a very thorough study that lasted, I think, 16 months. And they looked at election systems around the world, looked at India, South Africa, Canada, all kinds of places. And one of their recommendations is to have a nationwide registration system. That is essential, and that needs to get started soon if you’re going to have a free and fair election in 2011.
One of the services that some of your civil society organizations could provide is to begin to figure out where you have registered voters and where you don’t, and begin to try to gather that information, because it is essential. Secondly, there has to be an independent electoral system that is run by an independent group of people, whoever they might be. Different countries choose different approaches.
Now, our democracy is still evolving. We had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember. In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state, so I mean, we have our problems too. But we have been moving to try to remedy those problems as we see them.
So I think having an independent electoral system, having parties that are rooted in the grassroots – and that is something that is open to you now. It’s not enough just to have leaders of parties in opposition who just make speeches. You have to do the hard work of organizing. One of the most brilliant aspects of President Obama’s campaign is how he organized and he used technology to organize. And there are a lot of people who could be organized in Nigeria politically by using technology.
So those are just some ideas about how you could begin right now, regardless of what the government does, to register voters, begin to provide political activity that will lead to grassroots organizations that will work in the election, and then to work very hard to convince your parliament to pass a strong electoral reform bill, because ultimately, that’s what has to happen. And every one of you knows people in parliament. Every one of you knows people who know people in parliament. Every one of you has influence. And use that; use your positions, your voices, to try to focus in for the next months on getting that strong electoral reform bill passed. That will provide you the platform then to build on for a free and credible, legitimate election in 2011.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We should go on this side, too. Don’t forget. (Laughter.) So many hands. It’s hard to –
PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, women. Yes, next. Okay, we’re going to have gender equity after this –
MR. ERUBAMI: After this one.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. This gentlemen. Then three women, Moshood. (Laughter and applause.)
Just talk into it. It’ll pick up your voice there.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary of State, my name (inaudible) Nigeria. I want to begin by saying that the your friendship and partnership (inaudible) of the United States of America has been (inaudible) and has been geared towards improving democracy on the continent of Africa (inaudible) of Nigeria. I’m glad you mentioned that there is capacity indeed in Nigeria to advance the cause of democracy and grow our nation and our people. And I’m happy to take note (inaudible) that have been undertaken now by Nigerian (inaudible) the fight against corruption (inaudible) poverty, the issue of Niger Delta –
AUDIENCE: (All at once.)
QUESTION: Pardon me, I have to clarify the (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Secretary, my question is this. My question is what the people want to hear. (Cheers.) I’ll ask it. After elections in the U.S., all hands come on deck to support the nation and its people. In Nigeria, it’s not exactly the same. After elections, there continue to be in-fight and it continues to be a lot of rancor and problem (inaudible). So what is the U.S. going to do to support Nigeria’s effort towards establishing a lasting democracy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we first of all want to encourage civil society to be very involved in working to set up the terms of the next election. We want to encourage people to be part of the political life of the country. The United States also provides aid to groups to work on democracy and governance and to be training people. So we will continue to be supportive.
I think, though, that really, President Obama’s words ought to be just remembered and repeated about what he said not only in Ghana, but what he said at the G-8 meeting in Italy. I mean, he considers himself a son of Africa. And in a very real sense, he is both a son of Africa and a son of America. It’s where his blood comes from. He has relatives still in Africa. And he believes so strongly in the future of Africa.
So I hope that is inspiration. I hope that persuades people to keep going when the going gets tough – not to give up, to feel committed to doing what you can to make your country all it can be – because that is certainly how President Obama and I see it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERUBAMI: The lady there. The lady in the (inaudible). No, the one at your back. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah. Madame Secretary, Nigerians are generally perceived to be corrupt. Hi, my name is Tara Elatruwate (ph) and I’m a member of the Women in Business, an NGO, and I also run a beauty company called House of Tara (ph). Nigerians are perceived to be very corrupt. Every time we go to the airports with our passports we are treated shabbily, especially in the U.S., also in the embassies as well.
Unfortunately, there’s a small minority of corrupt and – corrupt Nigerians, and it’s a shame that we are all generalized, and some of us are just honest people who are just trying to do our businesses in America. What is U.S. Government (inaudible) do about this crisis? This is a crisis for us. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that it is a minority. It’s often the minority of people who, unfortunately, create a perception that affects everyone. And I think we do have to take a hard look, and I will raise this with my government, about how to zero in on any people we believe are – that pose problems of corruption or criminality without casting a broad brush that includes so many. (Applause.)
MR. ERUBAMI: Another lady there. Yes, you.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) for democracy. (Inaudible) when she traveled outside the country, she (inaudible) being prosecuted house from Wall Street to the other, almost (inaudible) on the White House. My question now is how can the Obama Administration (inaudible) our elected officials who still stash money into our (inaudible)? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say this. I think that we will watch what happens very closely over the next months. We have made it very clear that we expect and hope that there will be an electoral reform law passed, that there will be more legal actions taken against those who commit financial corruption or abuses of power, that there will be a greater commitment to the development of the people, that the Niger Delta conflict will be resolved. We are going to be watching very carefully.
And I think that it is our hope that what we’ve been told and the commitments that we have been given will be realized. But we also know that we may be in a position where we have to take actions that demonstrate our absolute conviction that what is necessary for Nigeria is for the leaders to lead, and lead in a way that inspires confidence and trust and gives the Nigerian people a better chance. (Applause.)
There are options available to us, but at this point, we’re going to continue to urge and encourage and work with the leadership to try to get the changes made. But we want to work with a very active citizenry and active civil society, like all of you, that we’ll be pushing very hard as well. So if we can work together on a people-to-people basis, not just a government-to-government basis, we will deliver that message strongly. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: The man in the suit there. There, you. You, the man in red tie. Yeah.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Wait, wait, three women. We said three women, Mashood. Three women. No, no, we have to have one more woman.
MODERATOR: I’m going back to the ladies, please. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: He doesn’t want to offend any of the women. How about the woman in the pink dress, right there.
MODERATOR: Okay. (Inaudible) please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, we’ve got two women. All right.
QUESTION: Thank you. Good evening, everybody. Good evening, Secretary of State. My name is Omolio Medey (ph). I’m actually going to start by appreciating the U.S. mission. Thank you, ma’am. (Inaudible) and also I have a project that’s been supported by the U.S. mission, under the ambassador’s self-help project.
My question is actually not a question, it’s a request. I appreciate the effort of the U.S. Government to support institutions and structures in Nigeria. But I’d like to see more going into the so-called of educational institutions in terms of building more technical schools, and skills of (inaudible), because truly that is the future of this country. Without a good technical base, there’s really no future. So I know you’ve been doing well, and I really appreciate it, because I tell everybody that the support our projects have gotten from the U.S. mission – if we have gotten that for other structures in Nigeria, we will do better.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. (Applause.) (Inaudible) microphone to (inaudible). The man at your back, please. The man at your back.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madame Secretary of State, my name is Clement Wanpoh (ph) and I am the pioneer chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, as well as director of a policy and legal advocacy center. Part of the big problem we have at this time is the collaboration between multinational companies who join our government officials in serious acts of corruption. And a big problem, of course, mentions several international companies, including Halliburton, Siemens, and so on. While in the U.S. and in Europe, some of these companies have been brought to account in terms of the justice process. We find that in the Nigerian legal system, these companies continue to even operate and engage in deeper acts of corruption, leading to severe wastage that could, in fact, have helped to develop us here in this country.
My question is, in terms of cooperation with the Nigerian authorities, what serious efforts have been made to ensure that even when these companies are brought to account in the U.S. that these acts of corruption that they join our public officials and perpetuate in Nigeria is, in fact, brought to an end? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you mentioned one of the cases that we have been working on. Two executives, two employees of Halliburton, have been convicted in the United States for their role in corruption here in Nigeria. We are sharing information with the Nigerian legal system as we find it. We want to cooperate closely.
We make our companies take a pledge. They have to sign up to our anti-corruption standards. We’re one of the few countries in the world that do that. And when we find evidence of anyone in our companies who have violated our anti-corruption standards, we prosecute if we have sufficient evidence. So we will continue to provide the information and try to work with your government wherever we can.
We think its good business to eliminate corrupt practices. It is better for competition, it’s better for the trade and investment environment, it’s better for Nigeria’s reputation as a place to do business without heavy transaction costs that corruption call on a company to make. So we will do what we can to prosecute those who cross the line who have any American connection, and we want to see reinstatement of a vigorous corruption commission. The EFCC, which was doing work and then has kind of fallen off in the last year – (applause) – we would like to see it get back into business so that it would be a good partner with us.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. The man in blue by the (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you very much, (inaudible) have the opportunity. Thank you, Madame Secretary of State. My name is Don Lamibasheru (ph). I represent 19 million people with disabilities in this country. I know you have 54 million in the United States. I want to first of all commend the work of the U.S. mission in Nigeria for mainstreaming people with disabilities into society, particularly in the area of making information in appropriate formats, particularly for the blind, in Braille. The electoral reform recommendations, actually, which everyone is talking about, has now been put in Braille by the U.S. mission. Thank you for that.
But we noticed that in the last election, some of our members were banned from participating in elections, those without fingers and amputees, people living affected by leprosy. Now, in the spirit of partnership, we are well aware that there is a machine in the United States, the Electronic Audio Voting Machine, which enables blind people, and all people with disabilities really, to vote by voice, which would then be captured by the machine into the computer and sent out. Now, this is widely used in many states in the U.S., especially Seattle, and (inaudible) and I notice this, I use this in Seattle. Now, how can the U.S. partner with our (inaudible) so that these machines are made available so that all Nigerians can participate actively in the voting process? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question. And I will work with our very good ambassador, who many of you know. We will see if there is a way. Now, it depends upon the systems that your government decides to use for elections, but we have worked very hard to
make sure that people with disabilities are not disenfranchised, because we don’t think it’s fair. I mean, people who, as you say, are blind or who have paralysis, they’re human beings and they’re citizens and they deserve to vote. So we will see if there’s any way we can be of help in that area.
MR. ERUBAMI: Thank you very much. One more question. (Inaudible.) Please. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Just one question. This has to do with poverty. (Inaudible) is my name. I’m president of West Africa (inaudible). (Inaudible) and the efforts of the United States Government to fight the crisis of capitalism, otherwise called economic (inaudible). Now, I discovered that the United States Government and governments of Western countries have channeled trillions of dollars to bail out their economies, to save jobs, to save mortgage institution, to save schools.
But the IMF and the World Bank, in which the United States Government has a lot of influence, go around the world (inaudible) getting governments of under-developed countries to cut jobs, to reduce and withdraw subsidies from schools, from (inaudible) and the rest of them. And this as our (inaudible) crisis of poverty in third world countries, including Nigeria. What can the United States do with (inaudible) the influence in the World Bank where your nominee is the president of the bank? How will you allow your own system now to influence the world so that we can have a new international economic order based on justice and fair play around the world?
Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that your comments reflect the real concerns that many of us have about what has happened in the global economy. It has, in many ways, created opportunities. Nigeria is our single biggest investment destination for American capital. But on the other hand, it has not shared the prosperity broadly enough. And in the crisis that we started to experience last year, it was essential that countries that could, like the United States and China and others, try to stimulate the economy to keep the economy going so that we could continue to invest and export and import all at the same time.
Now, it is really important that as we work our way out of this crisis – and we’re beginning to see signs of stability in the American economy, as you know – that we take seriously what was said at the G-20 meetings in Washington, London, and then the upcoming meeting in Pittsburgh. We have to redesign our international financial structures. They do not reflect the world of the 21st century. (Applause.) And there are great gaps in how we think about economies and how they’re regulated, what is demanded of certain economies, and how we try to work to be sure that forgiveness of debt and other kinds of international actions actually result in money getting to people. There’s just a lot that we haven’t yet thought through sufficiently.
I know that our Administration and President Obama, of course, are very committed to figuring out ways that we can have a new global architecture for the economy. And it is important that different voices be heard. I told your ministers this morning that, by all accounts, Nigeria should be in a position to be part of the G-20. (Applause.) But – big but – the corruption reputation. It’s not that corruption doesn’t exist everywhere, it does. But the fact is – you know it, that’s all you’ve been talking about tonight – it is a problem. The concentration of wealth at the top, the failure to use the wealth that God gave you to lift up the people – I mean, those are problems. But if Nigeria were to set a goal and then work and plan toward meeting that goal to deal with the corruption, to create more transparency and accountability, to develop, to do the education that the woman in pink referred to – there are schools in Nigeria with no students because people can’t afford them and there are no teachers to teach the students. There are parts of Nigeria with no healthcare. The electricity problem is one that – I mean, here Nigeria is with all this oil and gas, you would think it would be electrified across the country.
So if Nigeria takes seriously these challenges and works towards solving them, I think the sky is the limit for Nigeria. I mean, there is no doubt in my mind – and I know that we have to wrap up, but just from what I’ve seen tonight, the potential for a very vibrant democracy is alive and well in Nigeria. (Applause.) And I think that your work and your commitment and your involvement in the political process, as well as civil society, is what can make it happen.
Thank you all so much, and God bless Nigeria. (Applause.)
MR. ERUBAMI: Thank you very much, Madame. I have the honor to (inaudible) Ms. Evelyn Oputu, the managing director, CEO of Nigeria Bank of Industry, to give a word of thanks.
MS. OPUTU: Madame Secretary, excellencies, my distinguished brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, it is with a lot of pride that I stand here tonight (inaudible) thank the Secretary of State and thank all of you for coming here and displaying to the Secretary of State what we are made of. You are a strong, proud, hardworking people who have been vilified over the years, and you are showing the Secretary of State here today what we really are made of.
Madame Secretary, we know that you are an advocate of Africans. We know that it was after you came here in 1994 with your daughter to Africa that the trade policy towards Africa changed. (Applause.) We want to work with you. What we ask of the United States is (inaudible) Nigeria (inaudible) development (inaudible). We thank you for your time. As a matter of fact, your presence here in Nigeria (inaudible) Obama Administration’s commitment to work with us. We have heard all what you have said about transparency (inaudible).
But we also want to thank the U.S. mission. Because as a matter of fact, I the past two years (inaudible) actually all (inaudible) to Nigeria. (Inaudible) it is the women that (inaudible) it is the women that raise the families, that run the small businesses. Madame Secretary, you are (inaudible). And so I say to you that (inaudible). We know in Nigeria what they say in the U.S. (inaudible). Thank you, Madame Secretary. (Applause.)


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