Travel Diary: In Nigeria, Secretary Clinton Speaks on Good Governance, Transparency

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 13, 2009
Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks in Abuja, Nigeria

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."

Read the Secretary's full discussion with civil society representatives in Abuja, Nigeria and more about her trip to Africa.



David S.
Texas, USA
August 13, 2009

David S. in Texas writes:

Secretary Clinton is hitting the mark at every stop. She is astounding!! The countries of Africa have common problems, and each has unique issues. Secretary Clinton has done her homework to know the issues for each country she visits. She continues to impress and please all who follow her activities.

I remain,
Her Loyal Follower

District Of Columbia, USA
August 14, 2009

Michael in Washington DC writes:

Reading what Hillary has to say in Nigeria. Certainly there was no foreign relation diplomacy in her speech. It is her duty to know what the situation is in every nation she visit and her visit should be, to channel a probable cause of rectifying those situations that are damning to African nations through international foreign policy and support. Her points are of no advantage and if I formerly know what her opinion is going to be, the platform shouldn't have been granted. It's of no use when you pin point problems and you have nothing to offer in facing those problems especially as a dignitary foreign entity. If these men can deal with the situations as she proposed, the issues will not had been there to be mentioned by her. There is nothing empowering in her speech, rather a scolding and a clandestine way of saying you are still not there yet to play ball and we got nothing to offer you any help getting there. As an African Development Consultant, I know what her speech should had been but she will refuse to go there not to be held accountable. She came to speak to the nation on.
Any fool will know by now that a foreign relation with U.S. is of no relation except they have something they planning to go after. Even that, they will stage a propaganda that will require their effort, so they can actually say they do really care.
African need to stop offering all these international body a preferential treatment to come to their nations and act like there special and smarter than the people they have come to meet.

New Mexico, USA
August 14, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I found this following question to include a very interesting perception of American politics. President Obama's decision to retain Sec. Gates from the previous admin. and his nominating Sec. Clinton after a vigorously fought contest for the Democratic party nomination has definately left an impression on folks, no doubt.

There's this concept called "the loyal minority" that has unoffically granted a newly elected president a 100 day "honeymoon".

Some would say after that, all bets are off....(chuckle).

But this isn't written in our constitution, it became tradition through precedent during FDR's tenure during the Great Depression and "the New Deal" legistlation he pushed through Congress.

It is a time for common folks to take a deep breath, or a sigh of relief perhaps, depending on how one voted. A "wait and see" period to let the newly elected get settled into office, pick a puppy perhaps ( might be one's only loyal friend in the end), and honor his/her capaign promises.

A government and its people have a symbotic relationship, they feed each other and off of each other. A generally healthy relationship unless the feast becomes parasitic in nature. Either by the government sucking the lifeblood of people's aspirations through corruption and repression, or by a disloyal minority preventing the elected from meeting the goals of the people the elected pledged to support.

Thing about America is we are as partisan as it gets, until crisis hits, then there are no Democrats or Republicans, but simply Americans all in the same boat, "all hands on deck", trying not to row it in circles, but into calmer waters as a team.

Attitude is everything in getting there from here.

( from the Q & A session )

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.

August 14, 2009

Jonathan in Uganda writes:

Great work keep it up


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