Remarks at Interfaith Outreach Roundtable

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.

PRN: 2009/T11-47