Town Hall with Civil Society Representatives on Good Governance and Transparency
Secretary of State
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 –
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 –
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.)