Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia in the Treaty Room at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on August 5, 2010. Following their bilateral meeting, Secretary Clinton and Nigerian Foreign Minister Ajumogobia held a joint press conference.
Before discussing the U.S.-Nigerian partnership, the Secretary spoke to Kenya's recent referendum for a new constitution. The Secretary said, "Yesterday we watched with great interest as Kenyans went to the polls to cast their votes on a new constitution. This was the first time that Kenyans have participated in a national poll since the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election. Constitutional reform is the centerpiece of the reform agenda that Kenya has adopted for itself. It is aimed at addressing the underlying causes of violence, and I commend the people of Kenya for participating in large numbers and exercising their right to vote in a peaceful manner.
"While the final results are not in, it appears that about two-thirds of Kenyans have voted in favor of their new constitution. This is an indication that a very strong majority of Kenyans have voted for fundamental change. And we were supporters of both sides of the constitutional debate and, in fact, we urge all Kenyans to reach out to each other, to work together after this referendum to support Kenya's democratic institutions and to move the country forward into the kind of future that Kenyans themselves deserve. And they can rest assured that the United States will continue to be a friend and partner to help build that future."
The Secretary then turned her thoughts to the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship. Secretary Clinton said, "Nigeria is a key strategic partner, not only in Africa but globally. It is Africa's most populous nation, its largest democracy, a significant contributor to peacekeeping efforts across the continent, a crucial partner for economic growth, trade and direct investment with the United States. About one million Nigerians live, study, and work in the United States, providing important people-to-people connections. So today I want to reaffirm how much we value our relationship with Nigeria and how much we both, I believe, can benefit from closer cooperation.
"When I visited Nigeria last year, I saw firsthand the strength and determination of the Nigerian people, their absolute commitment to achieving a stable and democratic future even amidst a lot of challenges. We were saddened by the illness and passing of their president earlier this year, but encouraged by the timely and peaceful succession of President Jonathan. The Nigerian people deserve a responsible government that rejects corruption, enforces the rule of law, respects human rights, and works on behalf of the betterment of the Nigerian people. That is the driving principle behind the U.S.-Nigerian Binational Commission. We are focusing on four critical areas: good governance and transparency, energy reform and investment, regional security and the Niger Delta, and food security and agriculture."
In closing, the Secretary said, "[W]e are making a lot of progress together, and we'll continue to work with Nigeria. Nigeria will be celebrating 50 years of independence October 1st. And we applaud the Nigerian people for all that you have accomplished during the past 50 years. We want to work with you to build on the success so that it becomes even more of a success story."
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.