UNDER SECRETARY ZEYA: Thank you, Chargé Greene, for that introduction and for the opportunity to speak to such a vibrant gathering of Nigerians, representing so many walks of life, here today.  As I am sure you know, President Biden is committed to expanding and deepening our partnerships with African countries, institutions, and people, especially all of you representing the continent’s largest economy and democracy.

These partnerships are built on a long-standing commitment to promote democratic governance and increase respect for human rights.  We know, and YOU know, that countries where all individuals’ human rights are protected; where all people have equal access to justice, government services, and the ability to choose their leaders; where all people can participate in the economy, are ultimately more stable, more prosperous, more peaceful, and more successful.

Civil society plays an essential role in the development of any country, and I know the civil society community here in Nigeria has a robust impact on the lives of so many Nigerians.

Civil society organizations are vital to Nigeria’s democratic progress through your engagement and advocacy on constitutional and electoral processes, anti-corruption issues, labor rights, and other key policy reforms.  The United States, through USAID and other agencies at our embassy in Abuja, currently supports more than 150 civil society organizations to strengthen their ability to network, advocate for key policy reforms, collaborate with the government and the private sector, and safeguard the rights of women, youth, people with disabilities, workers, and members of other marginalized groups.

While the groups here today represent the extraordinary depth and breadth of Nigerian civil society organizations here, each with different goals and objectives, it is clear to me that you are united in a mission to realize a more equitable, democratic, and secure Nigeria.  Your work to promote peace during last year’s elections, for example, was instrumental to helping Nigerians have the opportunity to make their voices heard through the democratic process.  And while last year’s elections showed us that there is still work to do, I am confident that the work of people in this room will be key to unlocking a more prosperous, just, and inclusive Nigeria.

I thank you for being here this evening and I look forward to discussing the important work you are doing to address the critical issues facing people in Nigeria today and help its democracy deliver.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future