Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary | Behind the Scenes PhotosYesterday, Secretary Clinton participated in a town hall with representatives of civil society in Abuja, Nigeria. Secretary Clinton said:"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. 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."