Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

Remarks of the U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders at the
Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

December 11, 2008
Abuja, Nigeria

All protocols duly observed.

This is my second trip to Calabar and to Cross River State, the land of peace and tourism. Today, I am here for the children because they are the future of Nigeria. It is critical that we all support children's health issues, and certainly preventable ones like measles, polio and malaria. This flag off ceremony of the Integrated Measles Campaign is just one step in achieving the elimination of all preventative childhood diseases.

This Campaign is a shining example of how the government and people of the United States of America, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, are partnering with the government of Cross River State, as well as international partners such as the High Commission of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, to invest in the people of this great state by providing access to quality health care services. This is a goal we all share.

Despite the existence of an effective vaccine against measles, the disease has continued to be one of the most devastating causes of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. The World Health Assembly has the goal of reaching a 95% reduction in mortality by 2010. For Nigeria, an Integrated Measles Campaign was recommended to achieve this target. And this campaign is targeted to reach all children under the age of five. It will deliver vaccines against measles and polio, and provide a Vitamin A supplement.

To support the Government of Nigeria’s initiative- and Cross River State’s commitment- to reducing child morbidity and mortality, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, is also taking this opportunity to provide 116,000 long-lasting insecticide treated nets to all children under five years of age, in all 18 local government areas in Cross River State.

I want to talk a bit about malaria today as well. In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for the death of more than 300,000 children under five each year, and it accounts for over ten percent of all maternal deaths in this country. It is estimated that economic and social advancement, as well as approximately $1.2 billion dollars, are lost every year to malaria through the loss of productivity and costs related to treatment.

The challenge of reducing child morbidity and morality is enormous, which is why we have formed public-public and public-private partnerships with the government of Cross River State and several non-governmental organizations. Together we will use proven strategies to effectively deliver immunizations and insecticide treated nets to the people of Cross River State.

The U.S. Government is committed to investing in the people of Nigeria, and of Cross River State, and I assure you that we will follow your state's leadership towards supporting improved and accessible health care services for the people of this great state. I am happy to be a part of this flag-off event, officially launching the second phase of a nationwide initiative to combat measles and malaria in 17 southern and middle belt states. I commend you for your efforts, and I am confident that you will achieve your goal of access to quality health care services for the people of Cross River State. Congratulations and best of luck with this exciting initiative. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the MOU Signing Ceremony of American Corner at the Ovie Brume Youth Center, Lagos


MOU Signing, American Corner at the Ovie Brume Youth Center

U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
Ovie Brume Youth Center
Lagos, Nigeria
December 3, 2008

It is a pleasure to be here at the Ovie Brume Youth Center not only to celebrate the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding to establish the newest American Corner, the first of its kind in Lagos. We have several of these in other states around Nigeria but none here in Lagos until today. Under the U.S. Mission's framework for partnership with the people of Nigeria and particularly their desire for better educational development, I wanted to make sure we had an American corner in Lagos.

This signing provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education as an investment in people. The U.S. Government policy is to spend millions of dollars on education, and training of both students and teachers, and providing books and other resources. The American Corner Lagos is part of this contribution. In American Corner Lagos a partnership between the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the Ovia Brume Youth Centre you will find the literature of America’s best writers. You will find information about American society culture politics history and business and U.S. elections. You can find out how to study in the U.S. and how to apply for a visa. You have free access to the Internet.

This American Corner is not a cyber center. But it is a center for resources for students of all ages for journalists, academics, businesses, civic organizations, teachers, government officials, military, clergy, and traditional rulers. Whether the challenge is transforming conflict into dialogue conducting medical research on issues like HIV/AIDS halting the trafficking of persons or designing an efficient energy grid -- which are all policies addressed by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria -- the materials found in American Corners will help you address these issues and conduct research on almost any other issues.

The U.S. Government through our Fulbright program sponsors several Nigerian and American scholars to conduct research at institutions in the U.S. and Nigeria. One of our Fulbright scholars Dr. Cliff Missen developed software known as an e-Granary which places thousands of resource materials on a single server. The U.S Mission is installing these e-Granary software systems in our American Corners throughout Nigeria as a tool to increase the ability to conduct research for free. We are excited that this American Corner Lagos will be using this e-Granary system to provide the highest quality of service to youth students and scholars in the area.

By signing this memorandum of understanding we are committing to work together to enhance education in Nigeria. While the U.S. Mission to Nigeria is committed to supporting you in this endeavor it is up to the students, businesses, journalists, and academics to be interactive with the resources available at American Corner Lagos. It can provide the best possible service for access to information that you deem important for your future or the future of your business. Education is something the U.S. government spends a lot of money on in Nigeria. We want the best for Nigerian education and the best American Corner Lagos for you. So today I say welcome to American Corner

Thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Goodwill Message by Ambassador Sanders at the World AIDS Day at the Eagle Square

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders
Goodwill Message: World AIDS Day at Eagle Square

December 1, 2008

Speech as prepared for delivery.

All protocols duly observed.

It is my pleasure to commemorate and celebrate World AIDS Day 2008. For more than 25 years, the world has witnessed the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. Until recently, many of our friends living with HIV/AIDS wondered whether prevention or treatment could ever succeed in environments where resources, assistance, and care were limited, and where having HIV was considered a death sentence.

This is my second celebration of World AIDS Day in Nigeria, and I was here nearly nine years ago when the devastation of the disease was only coming to the fore, but so too was the stigmatism.

Today it is a better story, but a story that still needs a better ending. World AIDS Day is not only about continuing the fight against a stigmatism, but also making sure that those living with HIV/AIDS are not only taken care of, but never forgotten.

I am here to tell you that my Government is a partner in your fight for care, treatment, and prevention. Toward this end, the U.S. Government and the American people have provided- since 2004- more than $1 billion U.S. dollars for this purpose, with an expected increase of another $450 million dollars next year. We are the largest donor -- under our PEPFAR program world-wide and also here in Nigeria in support of the fight on this issue.

We must never let our guard down against this fight as the numbers of those affected world-wide are staggering, and in Nigeria even more of a concern, as those most affected tend to be women and children.

If you can imagine just five years ago, only fifty thousand people in all of sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment. As of the end of September, 2008, in Nigeria alone, the Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, is supporting nearly 211,000 men, women, and children with treatment.

The U.S. Government’s work on HIV/AIDS, with the Government of Nigeria and our partners, focuses on the communities around the country. Together, we have helped and reached two million people with HIV counseling and testing, and more than 640,000 pregnant women have received health services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

This is just one side of the story. Clearly these achievements are not possible with money alone. It is the courage, dedication, and commitment of individuals in countless communities across Nigeria that are choosing life, and saving the lives and creating hope for a future for those living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and the hope of an HIV/AIDS-free future for the next generation.

On this World AIDS Day, we celebrate the lives saved as a result of Nigeria’s commitment to fight this deadly disease. The U.S. Government is happy to be a partner in that commitment. We celebrate those who mobilize communities, who provide care with dignity and compassion, and who work hard to prevent the spread of HIV.

As we celebrate this 20th World AIDS Day, we are celebrating life, leadership, friendship, and partnership. Together, the Nigerians and Americans have proven that with support and leadership, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

For all of the people today who are living with HIV/AIDS, or caring for someone with it, you are today- and every day- extraordinary people. We honor all of you because you are the leaders, you are courageous, and you are an example for all of us. We salute you on this day, and let’s make every day in 2009 a World AIDS Day. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarksb at the Handover Ceremony of Nuclear Radiation Detection Equipment

Remarks as prepared for delivery
U.S. Ambassador Robin R. Sanders
Handover Ceremony of Nuclear Radiation Detection Equipment
Benue Room, Hilton Hotel, Abuja
November 18, 2008

Good Afternoon! I am honored to be with you today as part of this very important workshop on radiation detection and recovery. And I regret that, due to a conflict in my schedule, I was unable to join you at the opening ceremony yesterday. Please know that I am very supportive of this training, and of the work that you are doing for the benefit of your country.

Let me again recognize and congratulate Professor Elegba for his strong leadership and commitment to the development of Nigeria’s regulatory and institutional framework. I would also like to recognize and congratulate each and every one of you for your continuing dedication to ensuring that radioactive nuclear materials are safe, secure, and used for their intended peaceful purposes.

On May 26, 2004, the United Sates Government established the Global Threat Reduction Search and Secure Project to train nuclear regulatory agencies, such as the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, to locate, identify, and protect abandoned radioactive sources. So far, this project has benefited 23 nations and I am very pleased that by taking part in this training program, Nigeria has become a member of this select group. I am confident that this workshop will help you improve upon your already existing skills and techniques to more effectively and efficiently do the meaningful work that you do.

In this regard, the people and government of the United States, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, are pleased to partner with the people and government of Nigeria to assist the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority and other concerned agencies, in building the necessary professional and institutional capacity to ensure that radioactive nuclear materials are used safely and securely.

I am also very pleased to see that this workshop has brought together Nigerian professionals from across various agencies with a common goal of instituting a sound program for monitoring and safeguarding radioactive materials. I encourage you to nurture these networks as they will open vital lines of communication and foster valuable synergies that will advance your country’s vital interest in this area.

On behalf of the people and government of the United States of America, it gives me great pleasure to handover to the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority this nuclear radiation detection equipment.

I look forward to our continuing partnership, and I encourage you to take full advantage of the expertise available to you as evidenced by the skills, knowledge and experience of the participants in this room today.

I wish you luck as you complete your training and I am confident that you will continue to succeed in the very important work that you do, and in the exciting opportunities that await you in the future. Thank you.

Ambassador Sanders' Closing Remarks at the Aviation Safety and Security Workshop

Closing Remarks
U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders

Aviation Safety and Security Workshop
Hilton, Abuja
November 18, 2008

Good evening. I am honored to be here with you once again as you wrap up this workshop focused on making the skies safer for air travel in Nigeria. Over the last two days you have challenged yourselves, and each other, to create an atmosphere that allowed each and every one of you to understand what it takes to move toward the Category 1 status you are seeking, and, more importantly, to work together as you move forward to attain that status.

I am very impressed with the results of the workshops and with the commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm you have shown throughout. From what I have been hearing, you seem to have fully embraced the "Changing times, changing strategies" theme aimed at making the skies safer in Nigeria.

To fully realize the benefits of this conference, we need to make sure that we move forward together- as partners- to operationalize what we have learned in the many workshops over the past two days. Please know that the U.S. Mission in Nigeria supports you in this effort. As partners in aviation, we are also partners in the future of Nigeria. I commend you for what you have accomplished and have full confidence that as we move forward, together, we will achieve our shared vision of truly safe skies for Nigeria.

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks At a Workshop on Aviation Security and Safety

Welcome Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders

Workshop on Aviation Security and Safety

November 17-18, 2008 – Abuja, Nigeria
All protocols duly observed.

Good morning and welcome to the Aviation Safety and Security Workshop which is highlighting the Changing Face of Aviation and Security in Nigeria. Some might rephrase by saying, Safer Skies for Nigeria. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria congratulates the Government of Nigeria as well as the private sector in the quest to attain the Category 1 status from the United States Federal Aviation Authority and thanks our partners in planning this workshop, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Boeing Company.

The intent of this workshop is to create an atmosphere that allows each and every attendee to fully understand all the steps necessary for any country, including Nigeria, to attain Category 1 status, and as importantly, to keep it. I want to also thank all of you who have stepped up to participate by sponsoring talks, workshops, tea and lunch breaks. This type of public- private partnership is indeed the cornerstone to Nigeria’s future success in the global economy, because it brings all sectors together for a better understanding and an agreed way forward—while pooling resources and creating synergies that make a whole which is greater than the sum of the parts.

On the African continent the United States has been working with since the late 1990s to implement and manage a Safe Skies for Africa program. This is a U.S. presidential initiative, and it aims to increase the number of sub Saharan Africa countries that meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, improve safety at airports in the area, and improve regional air navigation services in Africa by deploying modern technologies. Additional U.S. government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Customs Service, Department of Defense and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also support the initiative. Dr. Demuren can be the best speaker on how these programs have benefited Nigeria.

As partners, along with our sponsors and government leaders, we are offering this Workshop to focus on the eight key Category 1 areas that the U.S. is working on with Nigeria through its Federal Aviation Authority. Those are:
- Legislation
- Qualified technical personnel
- Regulation
- Licensing and certification
- Civil air authority structure and oversight functions
- Continued surveillance obligations
- Technical guidance
- Resolution of safety issues

These are presented here in four concurrent workshops on
- Safety and Security
- Environment
- Infrastructure
- Capacity Building

The message from us to you during this Workshop is that the United States, as a friend and partner, wants Nigeria to do well. We recognize that you face important challenges and crossroads, but we want you to know that we are with you in your efforts and will continue our vigil to partner with you to achieve your goals.

So thank you, friends, for joining us for this Workshop, enjoy your two-days, ask good questions, participate vigorously, please take this opportunity seriously.

# # #

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Policy Speech on U.S. Election Watch 2008

Policy Speech

U.S. Election Watch 2008: Transitions and Traditions

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
As prepared for delivery.
November 4, 2008
Abuja, Nigeria

All protocols duly observed.

Good evening and welcome to the U.S. Mission’s 2008 Election Watch Celebration, a celebration of democracy. I want to begin my formal remarks by saying something to our democracy partners from civil society and the Nigerian media, and of course to our American private sector sponsors.

To our civil society and media partners who are working with us tonight, you are here because you, more than any other entity, are the voice of the people and the voice of the voiceless. This is what democracy is all about. For the private sector, democracies cannot flourish without your creativity, commitment to transparency, and willingness to be side-by-side with government in providing good jobs with fair wages. To Civil Society, the Press as the fourth estate, and the private sector, you are all here with us tonight because you play key roles in any democratic society, and you are important pillars in any democratic process.

For me, there are several key phrases that are symbolic, more than any others, which reflect the fundamental principles of any democracy. They are, “we the people,” and, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Tonight, more than any other night, I believe that as the world watches this historic election taking place in the United States, these two phrases, in some way, are being thought about by Americans, Nigerians, and people all over the world. These two democratic principles are resonating and have meaning as people seek, want, and expect their democracies to help them achieve “a more perfect union” for their respective nations.

We all know that there are things that democracies should and must do for their people. Among them are: freedom of speech and assembly; free, fair and transparent electoral systems, which must be organized by an election commission committed to transparency; and freedom for the press without fear of reprisal or censorship. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria works with all of these partners in Nigeria- civil society, the press, and the private sector- through our four pillars of governing justly, which includes anti-corruption, investing in people, which includes education and health programs, economic development and trade, and peace and security in support of your efforts to make Nigeria a “more perfect union.

We all recognize that we live in a global village in challenging times. These times have added, in my view, another important component to the respect for democracy. That is, respect for diversity, without which a nation cannot move forward. As 27 millions Americans have already cast their vote, and another 120 million Americans are expected to go to the polls today, they will be voting for the most diverse spectrum of American candidates in the history of our nation, representing diversity in age, gender and race.

Whomever Americans elect as they exercise their right to vote will be entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that we continue our tradition of working toward a more perfect union. This election night watch is an opportunity for us, as Americans, to celebrate and share our deeply-rooted traditions of democracy with our friends in Nigeria.

We have all been touched by the interest of Nigerians and other citizens from around the world, in this year’s U.S. Elections. The message from us to you this evening is that the United States, as a friend and partner, wants you to do well. We recognize that you face important challenges and crossroads at this time in your history, but we want you to know that we are with you in your effort to have good governance free of corruption, respect for the rule of law, improved development, and peace and security throughout Nigeria and particularly in the Niger Delta. The U.S. Mission is supporting you in your efforts to achieve a democracy that truly works for you- the people of Nigeria.

So thank you, friends, for joining us this evening as we celebrate democracy. Stay as long as you like, or come back in the morning, as we will be here until the election results come in. Together through this Election Watch, we are sharing in one of the key pillars of democracy: a dynamic, exciting, and transparent election. We have this for America, and for Nigeria we know that the complex, creative, dynamic, intellectual, hard-working, innovative, energetic, talented, resilient, formidable, diverse spirit that is this nation, will choose- no will insist- on a democracy that is truly reflective of who you are and what you want from your government to make Nigeria a more perfect nation.

Thank you for coming, enjoy your evening, and may God bless the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

# # #

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the 445 Air Force Lab, Lagos

Welcoming Remarks

Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders

Thursday, October 30
9:00-10:00 AM
445 Air Force Lab, Lagos

All Other Protocols Duly Observed.

Good morning!

I am very happy to be here today as part of this training program sponsored by the government and people of the United States of America. By focusing on blood chemistry techniques my hope is that you will further develop your laboratory skills so you can continue to do the important and meaningful work you do: supporting and saving the lives of those affected by HIV.

This training is one of many programs throughout Nigeria sponsored by the U.S. Government and specifically the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR. Our PEPFAR program in Nigeria has several goals but its primary focus is to support prevent diagnose and treat HIV. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria through its partnership with the Nigerian Military is helping to build capacity within the military to achieve this goal. And this training center is a critical part of our shared capacity building efforts.

The most critical component of capacity building is human development. While the transfer of technology and the provision of equipment are important it is really the skills you develop here and implement at your site; the professionalism and ownership of the roles you display in your daily interactions; and the knowledge you share and pass down to others that will serve as the key building blocks for your and your country's future. With this graduating, class the 445 Nigerian Air Force Hospital Laboratory Training Center will have confined diplomas to over one hundred Nigerian Military Medical Laboratory Scientists and Technicians. This training center is clearly developing the scientists of today and teachers of tomorrow and is helping to build Nigeria's future.

I am pleased to see that the U.S. Mission and our partners at the Nigerian Ministry of Defense have identified and assembled a very impressive group of presenters and trainers who possess vast experience. I would urge all of you to take full advantage of their expertise this week. The success here will be determined by your participation in discussions and I encourage each of you to share your experiences with each other and with your facilitators.

In closing let me say that you are not in this alone. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria, which represents the U.S. Government, is in partnership with the Nigerian Ministry of Defense on this project and we are committed to supporting you in your personal and professional development. I wish you all a very productive successful training session and appreciate the opportunity to be here with you this morning.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ambassaddor Sanders' Remarks at The College and Career Fair 2008

Remarks of United States Ambassador to Nigeria
Ms. Robin Renée Sanders

College and Career Fair

Rosa Parks Center
Tuesday, October 28, 2008- 3:00 PM

  • Prof. Nuhu Yaqub, Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja
  • Uno Adeniji, General Manager, Government Relations, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
  • Ibe Udobi, Manager, Government Relations, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
  • Dr. Ekwere, Rector, Abuja Polytechnic
  • Dr. Jamila Shuane, Deputy Director for Tertiary Institutions, Federal Ministry of Education
  • Emmanuel Orisejorfor, Stateside representative for North Carolina University
    Representatives of financial institutions, professional bodies and other educational partners
  • Members of the press
  • Prospective students
  • All protocols observed.

Welcome to our graduate-level College and Career Fair. This is the second year that we are offering an open event specifically targeting prospective graduate students. There has been tremendous growth in the number of Nigerians studying in the U.S. over the past decade. However, the numbers for graduate students have not grown as quickly as the undergraduate level, prompting us to reinforce our efforts to get information on programs, processes, and financial assistance for higher degree studies out to prospective candidates.

One of our Mission’s top priorities is helping Nigerians invest in their fellow citizens. Education is a critical component of this investment. Most of the programs on which we partner with the government of Nigeria are focused on education delivery systems – strengthening schools and policies, and improving people’s access to quality education. But we recognize that a good education can have an impact well beyond school systems. If you go on to seek an advanced degree, whether in public health, engineering, business administration, or diplomacy, you will be better placed to help Nigeria achieve its full potential.

Seeking a degree in the U.S. will offer you a high quality education, but the study abroad experience translates into so much more. Living in a foreign culture, learning the different expectations and practices of the education system in that country, will help you grow and develop in ways that would not have been possible had you stayed in your familiar home environment.

If you ultimately choose to study abroad, you will become a representative of your country and culture in the Unites States. The people you come in contact with during your time in the U.S. are likely to learn more about Nigeria from you than from any other source. When you return to Nigeria, you may be the greatest authority in your neighborhood on things American. But more importantly, you have an important duty to return to Nigeria and play a key role in its development.

It is something you owe to your nation and to your family. You will be, in effect, a bridge between our two countries.

I hope you will avail yourselves of the opportunity to use the services of our Educational Advising Center. The team here can provide advice on school selection, standardized testing, applications, and financial aid. We hope these tools will help you achieve your goals. I wish you the best of luck as you start on this journey.

Before I close, I would like to express a special thanks to the partners who have provided the support to make this event possible: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NICON Luxury Hotel, Pen and Pages Nigeria LTD, Bratim, and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Policy Speech at The American University of Nigeria

Policy Remarks

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State
October 17, 2008

Remarks as prepared for delivery

All protocols duly observed

My remarks today are just one of many programs we are holding throughout Nigeria to celebrate democracy and explain how democracy is practiced in the United States. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you today on this excellent campus of the American University of Nigeria not only about democracy, but also the role that students like you play in a democracy.

Democracy is about the governed, not the government. It rests firmly on the principle that the people of a nation have the inalienable right to choose how best to govern themselves and through their government how best to invest in the nation's people, grow the nation's economy and ensure the nation's peace and security. It is from the people that governments derive their authority, and it is to the people that government is accountable.

In a few short weeks, on November 4th, the people of the United States will once again go to the polls to exercise their inalienable right to choose those they will entrust with the responsibility to represent the American people in their government. As Americans here at the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, the 2008 U.S. Elections are an opportunity for us to celebrate and share our traditions of democracy with our friends in Nigeria. For us and for the United States they also mark the beginning of a time of transitions, to new leadership and to new opportunities.

We are all looking forward to election night. This year, the U.S. Mission is hosting election night events in Abuja and Lagos featuring early U.S. election coverage, programs and information on the U.S. election process, and most importantly, the opportunity to share our democratic traditions with our friends in Nigeria. I am deeply encouraged by the interest of the Nigerians in the U.S. Election. And just as the transition from one U.S. administration to the next will take place over the next several months, so too will our commitment to support democracy and good governance through our partnership with the Nigerian people. Our support for just and democratic governance in Nigeria is one of the central pillars of our partnership with the people of Nigeria.

Our democratic institutions reflect the unique history and traditions of America, as reinterpreted and adapted through many transitions in government. In Nigeria too, democracy must be respectful of the traditions of the Nigerian people, while honoring and reflecting the will of the people through fair, transparent and orderly transitions from one elected government to the next. This is where you come in. It is the responsibility of Nigerians like you to define, ensure, and make your democracy in Nigeria a success. Your education here at the American University of Nigeria, a partner with the American University in Washington, plays a vital role in making you open-minded, but self-assured and strong enough to challenge the things you want to see changed. It will be voices like yours that ensure that corruption is fought at every turn, that you achieve transparent elections and an independent election commission.

What is also important as you learn who you are and what you want for your nation is to know what democracies should do for you: fair and transparent elections; a corruption-free environment; reliable health care and access to education. Your time at AUN will give you the tools to address all these things.

American democracy is firmly rooted in our tradition of representative government- government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" in the words of President Abraham Lincoln. Yet it took many elections and many transitions to ensure that women and African Americans were given an equal opportunity to choose their government.

This year, the Democratic and Republican parties have nominated the most diverse presidential tickets in our history- diversity in age, race and gender. Democrats and Republicans chose their candidates through a nominating process of primaries and caucuses that give the decision not to party bosses operating behind the scenes, but to ordinary citizens expressing their will through fair, open and transparent elections and caucuses.

Our national elections are a wonderful reminder that democracy works for the people. The 2008 U.S. Elections have generated tremendous voter interest, because voters know that the outcome will have a direct impact on the issues that matter most to them. What are the issues that concern voters this year? You may be surprised to know that they are not dissimilar from the issues that concern Nigerians.

Far and away, the top issue on voters' minds is the economy. In the United States and throughout the world, the past few weeks have seen tremendous turmoil in global financial markets. American voters are demanding that the candidates demonstrate that they have the vision and ideas needed to restore confidence in the markets and address the underlying weaknesses in our system that brought on this financial crisis.

Other domestic issues have also moved to the fore. Chief among these are access to affordable health care and the soaring costs of energy. Americans remain concerned about peace and security in the world. Questions about the proper direction for American foreign policy, the threat of international terrorism, and the role of America's military are also among the leading issues identified by Americans in this election.

These issues, as I have traveled around Nigeria, are what I have heard that Nigerians say are important to them. Remember, as Nigerians, and the future of this country, rest with you, you should keep in mind, that the fundamental strength of a democracy is the control it gives you as ordinary citizens to address issues through the power of the vote.

American's choice of their next president, their representatives and senators, and their state and local officials will determine the policies our next leaders will apply to these global and domestic issues. As these new leaders know, as do countless politicians before them, that their performance will be measured by the voters and the power of their vote in future elections.

These political transitions are part of the fabric of democracy in America. Transitions bring change. No doubt, you are wondering what our political transition will mean for Nigeria. While it is not for me to predict the policies of our next administration, I am confident that the framework of partnership between the American people and the people of Nigeria will remain. Nigeria is a leader in the region; the United States and the international community want you to do well. We recognize you face important challenges: instilling the principles of good governance and anti-corruption efforts at all levels of government; implementing electoral and institutional reforms to address the flaws of past elections and ensure the integrity of future elections; developing the human capital and physical infrastructure needed to meet your economic and social goals, ensuring peace and security throughout Nigeria and continuing as a leading contributor to peacekeeping operations throughout the region. Know that through our framework for partnership, whatever the results of the U.S. elections, we will continue to work with you to address these challenges.

For example, just for education alone, the U.S. Mission to Nigeria through our U.S. Agency for International Development activities are increasing numeracy and literacy skills of primary students, improving access to education services, increasing the quality of teaching, and fostering community participation in the educational process. In our five-year COMPASS program, a $25 million budget is supporting Interactive Radio Instruction, teacher training and instructional materials development, and grants to parent-teacher associations to improve the quality of educational services. We are working closely with government ministries, parastatals, the National Assembly, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholder groups through the ENHANSE program to strengthen and support the policy environment necessary for successful social sector programs in Nigeria. Through the Ambassador’s Girls’ Scholarship Program, we are providing about 1,200 scholarships and mentoring to girls and boys in all regions of Nigeria. We provide in-service training to more than 20,000 primary school teachers to improve their teaching skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Our programs also increase girls' primary school enrollment, retention, attendance and completion, especially in the North. Our Youth Exchange and Study program allows secondary students to attend school in the U.S. for one year while living with American families.

We will also work with you to strengthen your institutions of democracy and just government. Since the 2007 elections, Nigerians have signaled a new commitment to the rule of law and respect for the independence of the National Assembly and the courts. Judges and legislators have responded to this by demonstrating unprecedented independence. Electoral tribunals which had, in the past, merely rubber-stamped flawed elections, many- not all- are now overturning at least some of the most egregious polls.

As a friend and partner, the U.S. Government is working with Nigerians to strengthen all these positive trends: developing institutional capacity within the National Assembly, providing technical assistance to improve accountability and transparency in all three branches of Nigeria's federal government, as well as with state and local governments. This includes technical assistance to the Electoral Reform Commission to support its efforts to identify best practices in electoral reform, while also supporting the work of state legislators from Nigeria's 36 states to develop their input to the electoral reform process.

On a democracy's responsibility on health care: we are helping Nigeria through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, which combines comprehensive prevention, care and treatment programs to support the Nigerian Government's response to the HIV epidemic. Last year alone, the U.S. Government's PEPFAR program provided $447 million dollars to Nigeria on HIV/AIDS programs, including support to clinics.

On a democracy's economic responsibility to its people: we are partnering with Nigeria to encourage a more open trading system, including signing a bilateral investment treaty; facilitating investment in micro and small enterprises; and partnering to bring U.S. advisors to assist in natural gas development and with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission. We also encourage Nigerian businesses to take greater advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA.

Our agricultural programs support a wide range of crop development programs, such as the Cassava Enterprise Development Program, which partners with the private sector to promote the production, processing and marketing of cassava products using improved technologies, and the Development Credit Authority loan portfolio facility, which provides partial loan guarantees for agricultural financing for framers.

Democracies also provide peace and security for their people, so we stand ready to support Nigeria’s work to ensure peace and security in the country and throughout the region, such as through the African Union. We commend your government’s position on Zimbabwe calling for the voice of the Zimbabwean people to be heard freely and fairly, and your leadership on the African Union Peace and Security Committee. We work closely with your military on capacity building to provide training and equipment to your peacekeeping forces, and aid in technical assistance to the Nigerian Police Force to build the capacity of police training for students and instructors, including training to investigate allegations against police. We are providing financial forensics and criminal investigation programs to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and other financial crimes institutions. U.S.-funded full-body scanners and other detection equipment are helping to stop narcotics trafficking through Nigeria’s international airports, and on human trafficking we work closely with your National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons to prevent this horrible act. On the Niger Delta we have just begun work with some states on youth development needs, education, and vocational training, and have offered to do more if requested by the Nigerian government.

All of these areas: education, health services, a corruption-free environment, peace and security, are the things you as the future of Nigeria must expect from your democracy. We are with you, as you can see from the range of our policy programs, in your road toward a fuller democracy. Thus, our partnership with you is based on mutual friendship and a common desire to see Nigeria, as well as each and every one of you, achieve the full potential that is your future. I have talked a lot about what democracies can and should do for you, and also what your role is. As we celebrate the upcoming U.S. Elections we want you with us to share in one of the key democratic pillars- a dynamic, exciting and transparent election. We want this for America and we know Nigerians want this for Nigeria.

Thank You.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Policy Speech on Fulbright, Education, Health, Civil Society and Democracy

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Policy Speech on Fulbright, Education, Health, Civil Society and Democracy
U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
8th Annual Conference of the Fulbright Alumni
Association of Nigeria (FAAN)
University of Lagos
September 23, 2008

Protocols duly observed.

It is a great pleasure to be at the University of Lagos, more commonly referred to as UNILAG, one of the foremost higher education institutions in Nigeria, not only to celebrate one of the world’s foremost educational exchange programs, the J. William Fulbright Program, but also to highlight how this program serves as one of the key cornerstones of the U.S. policy thrust and framework in its partnership with the Nigerian people, particularly their desire for better educational development. The 8th Annual Conference of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Nigeria (FAAN) provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education in the role of the development of nations like Nigeria, and you, its members, have played a key role in this.

Since its inauguration in the 1940s, the Fulbright Program has been just as much an integral part of U.S. foreign policy as it is today. Whether the challenge is transforming conflict into dialogue, conducting medical research on such pandemic issues as HIV/AIDS, halting the trafficking of persons, or designing an efficient energy grid- all policies addressed by the U.S. Mission to Nigeria- the voices, talents, skills and commitments of Fulbrighters have helped the U.S. Government address these issues, particularly here in Nigeria. Even in our IT-based global environment, we all know there is no substitute for personal interaction, especially on educational development. It is individuals like you in the U.S. Fulbright Program that show, after all, that it is not data streams that build connections and lasting international partnerships, but dialogue, educational exchange, and personal relations. And that is the hallmark of the Fulbright Program.

Now I want to highlight the areas of study pursued by both Nigerian Fulbrighters, who the U.S. Government sends to the U.S., and the American Fulbrighters, who the U.S. helps to send to Nigeria to help build educational capacity in a variety of areas. These Fulbrighters are a fitting reflection of the U.S. Mission to Nigeria’s policy priorities in our bilateral relationship with the government and people of Nigeria. The U.S. Government engagement in Nigeria is built upon four central pillars: investing in people, including support to the health, education and agricultural sectors; achieving peace and security; enhancing economic growth and trade; and promoting just and democratic governance. You have seen and will continue to see us work on these areas. The U.S. Mission’s framework for partnership with Nigeria also supports poverty-fighting measures such as wealth creation, land reform and food security, with the U.S. Government offering $25 million to address Nigeria’s food security issues.

In addition to recognizing the contribution of U.S. Fulbrighters to the educational sector in Nigeria, our other activities in the educational sector range from increasing the literacy and numeracy skills of 700,000 primary school children in Nigeria to sponsoring Nigerian senior scholars to the United States for a year of research through the Fulbright program.

For example, we have with us today a number of you that reflect what I have been talking about thus far, such as Dr. Victoria Onu, who since her Fulbright year studying in the U.S, has been working assiduously to improve the standard of education in Nigeria. Her model curriculum for early childhood and primary education has been adopted by the 10 states of the South East and South South of Nigeria under the sponsorship of UNICEF, and reportedly may be adopted for use throughout the country.

Last year, U.S. Fulbrighter to Nigeria Bernard Van Wie, whose educational experience is in chemical and bio engineering at Washington State University in the United States, introduced at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, new desktop learning educational modules that can be easily reproduced in Nigeria. This equipment now allows students to have hands-on experience with processes that were previously only theoretical concepts in the classroom.

Also in the area of education, and of particular note in relation to this year’s conference theme of “ICT, Research and Development”, U.S. Fulbright scholar Dr. Cliff Missen helped establish a sustainable computer laboratory at the University of Jos. In addition, due to his experience with limited or unreliable Internet access in the developing world, Dr. Missen developed a computer system known as e-Granary, which places thousands of resource materials on a single server. My mission here is installing these e-Granary computer systems in our American Corners throughout Nigeria as another tool to increase our users’ abilities to conduct research. We are hoping to find a home here in Lagos for a Lagos American Corner, expanding our educational policy efforts and providing a platform for this wonderful e-Granary system to be used by youth, students and scholars in the area.

In the areas of health and food security, a number of scholars have conducted research on sleeping sickness, medicinal plants available in Nigeria, and methods for improving or protecting food crops. Dr. Bala Sidi Aliyu, a former Fulbright Junior Staff Development grantee from Bayero University Kano, conducted research on using biotechnology as a control method for an indigenous Nigerian plant parasite. He has since published two educational texts, one of which has been adopted as a primary reference book for undergraduate students of biological sciences in northern universities.

In our efforts to promote peace and security we are actively engaged with Nigeria’s military and security services, helping them to improve their capabilities in such areas as maritime security, peacekeeping support, and narcotics interdiction. We also support local-level conflict resolution through programs in the Niger Delta such as Basketball for Peace, and IT and job skills training with the goal of bringing youth together from communities experiencing violent clashes in order to encourage peaceful co-existence.

Our economic growth activities range from support for sustainable agricultural development to working through public-private partnerships to establish partial loan guarantees for small and medium size enterprises throughout Nigeria, and this includes the jobs that get developed under our African Growth and Opportunities Act. Nigerian Chidinma Anyabuike, who is currently in the U.S. as part of our Humphrey Fellows program, is looking at micro-credit strategies for Nigeria. She hopes to expand access to micro credit for disadvantaged groups upon her return to Nigeria.

These diverse activities do not exist in a vacuum; rather they operate within the bounds of the different levels of government, policies, and regulations. Our policy objectives support good governance, democratic institutions, and respect for the rule of law so that there is an enabling environment in which the people of Nigeria can thrive and achieve their full potential. Our governance programs have allowed us to provide capacity building to the members of the Nigerian National Assembly, its committees, and its staff. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria is also supporting Nigeria’s election reform efforts with technical assistance to the Electoral Reform Committee, civil society, as well as to women in political parties throughout the country. We very much want to see a truly independent electoral commission so that the flaws of Nigeria’s past elections will be a thing of the past.

Nigeria’s Fulbright family supported by U.S. Government resources has not shied away from its role in the efforts on good governance. For example, Professor Jenkery Zakari Okwori of Ahmadu Bello University undertook his Fulbright research to use theater to bring greater democracy into public decision making. Since his return from the Fulbright program at New York University in the U.S. he has worked with civil society organizations to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy through social action campaigns. Okwori has also collaborated with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), to develop a manual on “Mandate Protection”, or safeguards for electoral processes, for use in Nigeria.

And this is really important and brings us to the other point I want to address today, which is the democracy pillar in our policy here in Nigeria. I have highlighted already our assistance to the National Assembly, the Electoral Reform Committee, women in politics and civil society. We are also working with state governments on fiscal responsibility and due process. But in the end, democracy is about democratic processes and institutions, and having democracy reflect the lay of the land and the people it is supposed to represent. Thus, in the U.S. our democracy is fluid and dynamic as all democracies should be. But this year more than ever our democracy is groundbreaking, with its diversity of gender, race, and age. As you watch our electoral process unfold and evolve, I hope you will be inspired as Fulbrighters to attempt new approaches to improve and strengthen Nigeria’s electoral and governance systems so that its democracy can thrive. As all democracies can learn from each other- you from us, but we can also learn from you- this is what partnerships and friends must do. And you, as Fulbrighters, are partners with the U.S. Mission’s effort on educational development.

As beneficiaries of this prestigious United States educational exchange program, you know the power of the program and how it transforms lives, yours and those you touch, bringing about positive change in your communities. With your power as change makers, you are vital partners with the U.S. Mission’s educational policy to ensure Nigeria has all the necessary tools to achieve the success it wants by 2020. Education is the foundation of any goal for Nigeria for 2020, and the U.S. Mission and I know you as Fulbrighters past, present and future are committed with us to see Nigeria succeed. Thank you and long live the U.S. Fulbright program and this association.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at Official Flag Off of Malaria-Free Kwara Program

U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Official Flag Off
Malaria-Free Kwara Program, Ilorin

Monday, September 22, 2008

“Every Child Must Live”. This is the motto of the Kwara State Health Reform agenda and it reflects the initiative this state has taken under the leadership of the Honorable Governor Saraki to do what a government should do, invest in its people. I am honored to be part of such a momentous occasion.

The U.S. Mission in Nigeria is dedicated to partnering with federal, state and local governments, civil society organizations and the business community to strengthen the health sector in Nigeria. In this effort we are committed to combating malaria, one of Nigeria’s biggest killers of children under the age of five.

One of the main U.S. Government policy thrusts is in the area of health, particularly malaria. The U.S. Government is one of the biggest donor contributors to the health sector. My Mission, on behalf of the U.S. Government distributed and sold more than 3.5 million insecticide treated nets in Nigeria. We are also working closely with local and international partners to train health care workers on the proper use of intermittent, preventative treatment for pregnant women. One of our local partners, WomanKind Family, has been very effective in promoting the fight against malaria in Kwara State through social mobilization, malaria education, and training on the uses and benefits of insecticide treated nets. Another local partner, the Royal Covenant Heritage Foundation, is working closely with Faith-based groups and several local communities on health promotion programs. On a broader scale, we are supporting drug regulatory agencies to ensure that service providers use proper methods to treat malaria, as inappropriate treatments lead to anti-microbial resistance.

Governor Saraki’s forward-thinking approach to providing free malaria treatment to children and pregnant women is commendable. I also want to recognize the wonderful work of the First Lady on this and other health issues for women and children. Your Excellency, as you know, by investing in the women and children you are investing in the future of Kwara Sate, and in the future of Nigeria. So it is with great honor and pleasure that I am here to help flag-off this Malaria-Free program today. The U.S. Government and my Mission are partners with you in this very important fight against one of the main causes of infant mortality. Together we are partners in this fight and I know that you will reap considerable returns on this vital investment in your future. Thank you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' at Iftaar Dinner in Ilorin 2008

U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Iftaar Dinner

Governor’s Lodge, Ilorin, Kwara State
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Assalamu Alaikum, Ramadan Mubarak. I am honored to be invited during this holy month of Ramadan by the Executive Governor of Kwara State, the Emir of Ilorin Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Honorable First Lady of Kwara State, Executive Council Members, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of Kwara State, and all other protocols duly observed. As you know, Ramadan is a special time of prayer, fasting, service and commemoration for the revelation of God’s word to the prophet Muhammad.

Muslims in the United States often celebrate Ramadan with the encouragement and support of friends, colleagues and neighbors. So I am here tonight to support and honor the friendship and traditions of a great faith by taking part in this Iftaar dinner hosted by His Excellency, the Governor of Kwara State.

It is also befitting that I have only recently returned to assume my official duties in Nigeria after spending time with my family. It is in this spirit that I share this evening with you during the holy month of Ramadan, as part of the Kwara State family, to celebrate the Muslim faith. We all share a commitment to peace, to love of faith, to love of country, to love of family, and to caring for the people of Kwara State. As we break fast together we note that America treasures friendship with Kwara State and welcomes and honors your faith.

Ramadan Kareem, and thank you, Honorable Governor, for the opportunity to take part in this special occasion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at Iftaar Dinner 2008

Ambassador Robin Reneé Sanders
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Iftaar Dinner featuring Bruce Onobrakpeya and
introducing the Art in Embassies Program
Chief of Mission Residence
Friday, September 12, 2008, at 6:00 p.m.

Assalamu Alaikum, Ramadan Mubarak. I am honored to welcome such distinguished guests during the holy month of Ramadan, a special time of prayer, fasting, service, and commemoration for the revelation of God's word to the prophet Muhammad.

Muslims in the United States often celebrate Ramadan with the encouragement and support of non-Muslim friends, colleagues, and neighbors. So it is fitting for me, and members of the U.S. Mission representing our country, to honor the friendship and traditions of a great faith by hosting this Iftaar dinner- my first- at the official residence of the American people here in Nigeria.

It is also befitting that this is my first official act upon returning to Nigeria and assuming my duties after spending time with my family. It is in this spirit that we come together this evening during Ramadan, as family, to celebrate the Muslim faith and to learn more about each other. We all share a commitment to peace, to love of faith, and to love of country. As we break fast together we note that America treasures friendship with Nigeria, and welcomes and honors your faith.

As you know, an important part of America’s moral fiber is tolerance. Americans believe that no one should be treated differently because of the color of their skin, where they were born, or what they believe. Not only do Americans reject intolerance, but we celebrate diversity. Hence the theme of this Iftaar dinner is “Democracy and Diversity: The Strength of a Nation”. It is also the theme that I have chosen for the official artwork of the U.S. Residence, done in partnership with one of Nigeria’s most premier artists, Mr. Bruce Onobrakpeya. On this unique occasion both Bruce’s and the Residence’s collections are being exhibited for the first time.

Bruce Onobrakpeya is a living memorial to diversity and has challenged and changed the art scene in Nigeria and the world over the past 50 years. Since his first one-man exhibition in Delta State in 1959, Bruce has participated in over 70 exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. His works are featured in several important public and private collections in Nigeria and abroad, such as the Vatican Museum in Rome and the National Museum of African Arts in Washington, D.C. In April of this year, one of Bruce’s works was sold for the largest sum ever paid for a piece of art in Nigeria.

Bruce Onobrakpeya has been a bridge builder between the United States and Nigeria. He has said that his residency at an art school in the United States in 1975 changed his life. It helped to instill in him a dream, which has now been fulfilled through his annual Harmattan Workshop Series in Delta State. I hope you enjoy, as I do, the wonderful pieces Bruce has personally selected to display for you this evening.

Together with Bruce’s pieces, we are introducing these two art collections at the residence. The two pillars, democracy and diversity, go hand-in-hand with the progress and development of any country. The United States and Nigeria have these two pillars in common. And these are the themes you will see reflected in the art and sculptures shown here this evening, which highlight the array of diversity- ethnicity, religion, gender and age- that make any nation not only strong, but better.

All of these pieces are connected, just like all of us who live in diverse, democratic societies. We must always remember this, and I hope that as you view these pieces and reflect on their beauty you will keep these themes in mind. Each piece renews our faith in all of us moving forward together, but also underscores the work that we still must do together in today’s global village.

As we celebrate this Ramadan season let us enjoy the food and friendship as family, and use the art on display as an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Ramadan in our own lives, on our shared values of family and community. “Ramadan Kareem”, and thank you all for coming.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at AFRICA ENDEAVOR 2008

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders

Delivered at the Closing Ceremony of Exercise AFRICA ENDEAVOR 2008
(As prepared for delivery)
Nigerian Air Force Base, Abuja
July 23, 2008

Minister of State for Defense Njeze, Chief of Defense Staff GEN Azazi, representatives of the Service Chiefs, representatives of the Service Directors, Heads of Delegations of the 26 nations participating in the African Endeavor exercise, As the U.S. Ambassador I would also like to recognize the Head of the U.S. Delegation, General Ward, All Delegation senior officers, Member nation participants, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, all other protocols duly observed:

I want to begin by thanking the host country – Nigeria – for its leadership role and dedication in continuing the African Endeavor exercise. This is the second time that this exercise has been held on the African continent, (in South Africa in 2006), and all of us appreciate the support that the Federal Republic of Nigeria, particularly the Minster of Defense and Chief of Defense Staff General Azazi, have provided over the last few days to make this exercise truly a resounding success. In the global environment in which we all live today, partners and friends like Nigeria are key to moving international military-to-military cooperation forward. I personally recognize the importance of mil-to-mil cooperation on several fronts, not only because I am a product of a U.S. military family, but also because I have recently served as the Deputy Commandant at the U.S. National Defense University just prior to my arrival here as the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria.

I also would like to recognize and congratulate every participant who took part in Africa Endeavor 2008. Without your professionalism and commitment to the interactions and activities over the last several days, the goals of this exercise would have not come to fruition. Together, you made significant progress in integrating shared military communication systems and improving not only the hardware capability, but also the importance of military networks on an international level.

As you all know, good communication is the backbone of any successful undertaking, whether it is a United Nations Peacekeeping operation or a humanitarian relief mission in response to a natural disaster. Good communications, during joint operations, begins with interoperable equipment, systems and procedures that permit military units not only to speak to, but also to share information with units from other nations and organizations, such as the 21 African nations and two key regional organizations – ECOWAS and the African Union -- represented here today.

One of the great deliverables – which I like to call the intangibles -- from exercises such is this – is another important element -- building mutual understanding among militaries -- as communication among the people behind the systems you used in the exercises this week is also so very, very critical. I know that the relationships you have developed during this exercise will remain part of your professional experiences throughout your careers, and the knowledge you have gained over the past six days of intense testing and collaboration will pay dividends many times over as you, your countries and organizations continue to work together to ensure continued peace and security – on this great continent of Africa in general, and the sub region in particular.

The United States Government and the people of America – through the Department of Defense - are honored to be a sponsor of this event along with our host, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Africa Endeavor is a groundbreaking venture, which you all should be proud of. It embodies the growing military and civilian cooperation among the nations of Africa—both at the bilateral as well as multilateral levels. The standards and procedures you have established during this exercise will serve as a touchstone for improved, coordinated responses to the myriad security challenges facing Africa. As the lessons learned from these exercises take hold throughout your respective organizations, I hope increased communication will serve as the catalyst for developing strategies to prevent conflicts before they escalate, as well as the catalyst to continue to build mutual understanding, and respect between the militaries of our nations.

Economic and social progress cannot occur without physical security, just as operations to improve physical security cannot occur without cohesive communication. Through your participation in these exercises, you have demonstrated the collective commitment of the countries and organizations you represent to improve the lives of the people of Africa by cooperating to ensure their peace and security and exercises like this one do just that.

Once again, thank you to the Government, Military, and people of Nigeria, and to all of the participants, facilitators and Exercise Directors Brigadier General Kwabe and LTC Dollesin.

# # #

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at AGOA Product Launch

Opening Remarks – Ambassador Robin Sanders
AGOA Product Launch

F&D Garment Manufacturing Co. premises – Lagos, Nigeria
10:00-11:00, July 17, 2008

Good Morning and Bon Voyage!

Today is another step forward in Nigerian SME's taking advantage of duty free exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA. The F&D Garment Manufacturing Co’s newest shipment of clothing and apparel to the United States is being exported under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA as many of you already know provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry of 6,500 different goods into the United States. Non-oil exports constitute only a very small fraction of Nigeria’s AGOA exports and I would like to see that changed, particularly as I have worked on AGOA for many years, including being at the White House when AGOA was signed into law in 2000.

This event is a direct follow-on from the June 12-13 workshop in Lagos held with our public-private partners Bank of Industry and First Bank.

Recognizing the talents of the Nigerian business community it is very important to me particularly seeing you take increased advantage of AGOA trade opportunities. Also I want to underscore the importance my government places not only on the existing business linkages between our two nations but also on creating new ones like this one under our framework for partnership with Nigeria.

As part of that commitment right now senior members of the Nigerian government and private sector are participating in a high-level AGOA Forum in Washington DC

The theme for this year’s AGOA forum is “Mobilizing Investment for Trade and Growth” in order to strengthen the linkages between private investment and economic growth and accelerate the exchange of ideas and information that is critical for AGOA’s success and indeed Africa’s continued economic success.

During last month’s export credit and finance event in Lagos with co-sponsors Bank of Industry and First Bank I asked participants to think creatively to nurture and expand existing partnerships work to build new productive partnerships and take positive steps to improve the paradigm between U.S. business-related programs and Nigerian businesses.

As I stated then our work to further build U.S. – Nigeria business relationships and enhance Nigerian SMEs’ export readiness to the U.S. would not be a quick fix, but rather one of many steps. Today is another step in that direction to change the paradigm of business linkages that now exist.

I am pleased to be here with F&D’s Managing Director Prahbu Dorai as this non-oil AGOA export embarks on its way across the Atlantic to expectant U.S. buyers. I also want to use this opportunity to mention the work that F&D is doing with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council at the AGOA Center to help train and build the capacity of a new cadre of emerging SME garment manufacturers in an effort to expand and most importantly to diversify Nigeria’s exports more into the non-oil sector. This is an important step on the Nigerian side.

I also want to recognize the presence of Frijay Consults’ Managing Director Mrs. A. S. Uwheraka who is also exporting seafood products (on display here) under AGOA to the United States.

All areas of AGOA duty-free exports are important and what Mrs. Uwheraka is doing with aquaculture and seafood products is just another example of the diversity of export potential for SMEs under AGOA.

In addition as part of the follow-up emanating from the June 12-13 workshop recommendations the U.S. Mission Bank of Industry and our other private sector partners here in Nigeria will soon be conducting a series of detailed state-level and zonal AGOA training programs focusing on developing the capacity of Nigerian businesses at the State level. These workshops will cover the provisions and procedures for exporting under AGOA and how to get export ready. I am pleased that the first zonal workshop will take place at the end of this month.

We are also moving ahead to expand and improve access to AGOA information and services here in Nigeria. The U.S. Mission is in discussions with Federal Government and State-level stakeholders to improve access to AGOA information and we are looking into the possibility of making the AGOA-proprietary software available here in Nigeria through our partnerships and will announce the details of that when the proposals are finalized.

In closing let me assure you that my goal and that of my team at the U.S. Mission to Nigeria is to work in partnership with you to move into a new era in U.S.- Nigerian business relations which includes AGOA but also involves a new bilateral investment treaty currently under discussion between our two countries.

In addition, we will continue to work with both government and private sector entities on this new potential for a new era that improves trade and investment but one that also has a synergy with improved transparency and the adoption of best business practices which will help both the U.S. and Nigeria change the business paradigm between our nations.

Thank you for joining me on this next step toward that goal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at Youth Environmental Leadership Program Workshop

U.S. Ambassador Robin Reneé Sanders
Opening Remarks
Youth Environmental Leadership Program (YELP) Workshop
Nigerian Salzburg Seminar Alumni
THEME: Environmental Leadership for Youth
VENUE: Valencia Hotel, Abuja
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
9:40 - 10:30AM

It is a pleasure for me to be with all of you this morning. As future leaders, you have an important role to play in shaping the direction of your country.

The U.S. Mission is pleased to partner with the Nigerian Salzburg Seminar Alumni in staging this workshop focused on developing your capacity to understand important environmental issues confronting Nigeria and skills that you will use to be effective leaders and advocates.

I am aware that your group has four objectives in Nigeria: 1) to improve cultural awareness and societal understanding; 2) to use dialogue as a means to promote justice and reconciliation; 3) to foster education and leadership that is responsive to local, national, and global needs; and, 4) to build inclusive decision-making institutions that are informed by citizens’ viewpoints, scientific research, as well as public and private sector inputs.

There is a Nigerian proverb that says: ”A man can not sit alone to plan for prosperity”. The proverb acknowledges that progress and prosperity require collective action, and a country's people are its most important resource. We support this position which is why a substantial portion of U.S. development assistance in Nigeria is focused on INVESTING IN PEOPLE.

Today's workshop is one of many activities we support specifically focused on developing youth like you. Good governance, sustainable economic growth, environmental protection and poverty alleviation all go hand in hand.

Like many other nations, Nigeria is pursuing a strategy of economic growth and development that aims to reduce poverty and improve the lives of its citizens. You know that certain actions can have negative environmental impacts such as increased greenhouse gas emissions, and stresses on water supply which can contribute to desertification.

Sadly, sand dunes from the Sahara are being swept southward pushing nomadic herdsmen into adjacent grass and woodlands. The tension between farmers and herdsmen over limited resources has prompted repeated conflicts and violent confrontations.

Woodlands have been decimated and soil once held together by dense vegetation has been rapidly eroded leaving vast, gaping, gullies across the country. Over the past 20 years, Nigeria has lost 3.7 Million Hectares of forest and farmland to erosion and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture estimates that 35 million metric tones of soil are washed away annually (source: IRIN).

To mitigate further negative environmental impacts, economic growth needs to take place in a sustainable manner- one that preserves, protects, and honors the environment for future generations.

Progress in the long run will only be assured by adopting policies that improve energy security, alleviate poverty, protect and preserve biodiversity, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, and provide for the sustainable utilization of scare natural resources.

The United States has long been at the forefront of environmental protection and our environmental legislation continues to serve as a model for other countries. We were among the first countries to establish a dedicated government office (the Environmental Protection Agency) specifically to address environmental issues and regulate industrial activities that were having negative environmental impacts.

The United States continues to play a leadership role on environmental issues at home and internationally. Since 2001, we haves provided substantial funding ($37 billion) for climate-related science and technology including international assistance and incentive programs. And, since 2002, we have launched 15 bilateral and regional climate change partnerships including playing a key role in the September 2007 United Nations inaugural conference of 17 Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change.

I am pleased to report that our efforts have had a very positive impact upon environmental issues while supporting economic prosperity. From 2000-2005, the population of the United States grew by 5%. and GDP grew by 12%. while our greenhouse gas emissions increased by only 1.6%. Moreover, the latest estimates show that from 2005-2006 our economy grew 2.9%,but our energy-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 1.3%.

Environmental problems are global in nature but their impact, and their solution, begins locally with each of you. Environmentalists regularly tell us to: “Think globally…act locally”. You MUST do that! It is the charge you have as Nigerian environmentalists.

I am confident that this workshop will provide you with a greater understanding of the environmental issues facing you, your communities, and Nigeria. I am equally confident that you will also leave here with the skills you need to address and resolve these issues in ways that promote human dignity, support economic development, while respecting the environment in which you live.

We must work together on this, and as future leaders of this country, you ARE agents of change and we are your partner in these efforts.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at American International School- Lagos Ground Breaking Ceremony

Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders


American International School- Lagos
Ground Breaking Ceremony

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Site of New High School
Lekki, Lagos (Across Chevron Compound)
  • His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Lagos State Babatunde Raji Fashola
  • Special Guest of Honor, Former Executive Governor of Lagos State Bola Ahmed Tinubu
  • AISL Superintendent Tom Shearer
  • AISL Board of Directors
  • Friends of the American International School in Lagos (AIS)
  • Distinguished Members of the Community
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • All protocols observed

I am delighted to be with you today. I would like to welcome all of you to the ground breaking ceremony for the new American International School in Lagos (AISL).

Let me begin by expressing my deep gratitude to the current partners who have generously supported the school over the years. This support has allowed AISL to be recognized as the leading international school in Lagos whose programs have empowered the students to achieve their highest potential.

AISL has been and will continue to be a cornerstone for the community at large with the delivery of world class education as its mission. A great deal of work has gone into getting us to where we are today.

I have been encouraged by these efforts which indicate that so many of you share AISL’s vision and have demonstrated a willingness to contribute to the success of this project.

The new AISL is well worth our investment. As it is an investment in the future of our children. Education, particularly in cutting edge facilities like AISL, provides the foundation and framework for our most precious resource, our children not only to grow mentally, but also to grow as good citizens and young leaders of all the nations represented by this global community called AISL. The new AISL will advance them even further.

As the American Ambassador I am proud to also note the relationship that AISL has with two U.S. school districts – one in Tacoma, Washington and the other in Houston, Texas. These relationships help to advance not only school-to-school partnerships but also the American style curriculum.

I have had the pleasure to not only visit the school, but also to interact with the bright, talented and creative students who are a reflection of the global community we live in. They are impressive, they are confident, they are our future.

Therefore it is my honor and privilege to introduce to you one of the many future leaders that AISL is producing, Annie Inoyo, who will share with you her experiences at AISL and how it benefited her as a student, an individual, and a good citizen in our global community.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at Isaac Moghalu Foundation Leadership Lecture

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Robin Reneé Sanders

Isaac Moghalu Foundation Leadership Lecture

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs
Lagos, April 23, 2008

All Protocols Duly Observed.

It is an honor for me to join you today for the inaugural Isaac Moghalu Foundation Leadership Lecture series. I understand that the Foundation's work is dedicated to promoting literacy and social change, and to investing in the development of human capacity in Nigeria. These are noble goals indeed. Achieving them is essential to the development of Nigeria. I welcome the opportunity to explore with you possible solutions to the challenges facing Nigeria and to share with you examples of how we are working in partnership with the Nigerian government, and business and civic leaders -- such as yourselves -- to promote a stable…prosperous… and democratic…Nigeria.

Poverty is perhaps…the greatest challenge facing Nigeria… today. The statistics are sobering. The impact on people’s lives is even more so. The 2003/2004 Nigeria Living Standards Survey (NLSS) conducted by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics -- with international technical assistance –documented…a national poverty rate of 54.4%. More than half of Nigerians…live on less than $1 per day. Subjectively, 75.5% of Nigerians regard themselves as poor, with most of those in the agricultural and informal sectors…particularly at the village levels.

So with that backdrop, we all recognize the starting point for poverty here in Nigeria, but what are we doing and what can we do to address this issue? To begin with, “investing in people” is the centerpiece…the pillar…of the United States’ partnership with Nigeria to alleviate poverty. We implement our programs in full support of…and in coordination with…either federal, state, or local governments, as well as civil society, NGOs and academics. We also applaud President Yar’Adua’s 7-point agenda, which…prioritizes wealth creation in the agricultural and solid minerals sectors, and raises the importance of food security, land reform, and education as poverty-fighting measures. I have organized the U.S. Mission’s strategic program goals and objectives to support this agenda under the “U.S. – Nigerian Framework for Partnership.”

We know that agricultural development, improved education, income generation, empowerment of women and health care are the foundations of any nation that must be nurtured…and cared for. They have not been for a long time in Nigeria. That is why our programs throughout Nigeria…support sustainable agricultural development and food security as critical factors in poverty alleviation.

In fact, in April 2008, President Bush announced $200 million to address the recent food security issues in Africa. Let me also share a few additional examples of not only what we are doing but also creative solutions by Nigerians that I have witnessed firsthand. For example, the U.S. Mission through the U.S. Agency for International Development is increasing cassava yields and agricultural incomes for 300,000 farm households in 11 South East and South South states, creating 60,000 new jobs in cassava processing, manufacturing and trading. Our Foreign Agricultural Service is funding community health, microfinance and rural infrastructure projects in Bauchi, Benue, Kaduna and Nassarawa States. Additionally we are active in bore hole and school rehabilitation projects through our office of Defense Cooperation. Public Diplomacy efforts are too focused on poverty reduction through its education, IT training centers, American Corners and exchange programs.

In addition, we have reached an additional 500,000 farm households in the north, middle belt and southern areas to increase productivity and income generation for selected domestic export products – such as marine and freshwater aquaculture and dairy production. We have also worked on sustainable tree crop development with cocoa and cashew.

In our work with the private sector under the umbrella of public-private partnerships (known as PPP’s), we have established partial loan guarantee programs with commercial banks to provide more than $30 million in credit to small and medium size enterprises and agribusinesses so that increased agriculture yields reach markets efficiently -- benefiting both farmers and consumers. And in the spirit of PPP’s, we have worked with companies like Microsoft with educationally focused NGOs like LEAP Africa and with Nigeria’s dynamic banking sector with leading entities like Bank PHB and Skye Bank on an export credit program.

Supporting education…is also critical to alleviating poverty. There are…thirty million primary school children in Nigeria…yet as many as half of these…do not attend primary school. An enormous number of out-of-school children and young adults…possess limited literacy and numeracy skills…and have little hope…of ever joining the formal workforce. Creative-thinking in programs like President Yar’Adua’s village solutions project called COP under his National Anti-Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP) are also using synergistic approaches to addressing poverty – linking agricultural, education, income – generation and micro finance on one platform, which is truly transforming at changing people’s lives.

Let’s look a bit more specifically…at education. Regional gender disparities in school attendance and literacy deficiencies are enormous. In the North West…the proportion of girls who attend primary school stands at 34 percent, compared with 85 percent in the South West. Adult women in the North West only have…a 20 percent literacy rate. We have all heard the same words over the years in different forms but in essence they all mean the same thing…that to educate a girl or woman is to help educate a village…a community…a nation, and for Nigeria this is no less important.

Under our African Education Initiative, the U.S. Mission here is making a difference by increasing literacy and numeracy skills for 700,000 primary school children in three states and training 15,000 primary school teachers in classroom instructional methods. We will launch a new basic education initiative in four northern states beginning in late 2008 that will reach approximately one million pupils and 9,000 teachers in 1,500 schools.

As I have traveled around Nigeria, I have seen wonderful programs by Nigerians on education in states like Bauchi, Kano, Cross Rivers, Delta and Rivers states. For example, Bauchi State supports a training center that teaches entrepreneurial and IT skills as well as a secondary school exchange programs with Iowa State University. Delta State has begun to reach out to communities to conduct job skills training for youth as well.

As we all know, access to health care is another critical factor in alleviating poverty, and the United States is investing heavily in the development of Nigeria's health care sector. Our programs…for example…are building the skills of 15,000 health care workers, preventing malaria…treating tuberculosis…administering life-saving childhood immunizations…and providing family planning and reproductive health counseling.

Focusing now on HIV/AIDS…Nigeria has the third-largest number of people…living with HIV/AIDS…in the world, with an estimated 4.4 %...of the Nigerian population living with the virus. To address this critical human health need, Nigeria is one of 15 focus countries under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (known as “PEPFAR”). During PEPFAR's first four years, Nigeria has received nearly $650 million dollars to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and training throughout the country with a focus on orphans and vulnerable children, and home-based care. More than 80% of patients on antiretroviral drugs in Nigeria are supported by the U.S. Government under its PEPFAR program.

Looking at issues…from education…to health care…to agricultural development…, Nigeria's human development needs…are daunting. U.S. development and Nigerian programs are helping to address these needs, but more importantly efforts are focused on providing practical…proven programs that can be replicated throughout Nigeria by the Nigerian government and in tandem with other international donors and civil society. The role and importance of civil society groups with capacity and training in all of these issues – health, education, and agricultural development – cannot be stressed enough.

These programs do not exist and cannot operate in a vacuum, as there must be standards of governance prevailing throughout Nigeria for poverty alleviation programs to thrive. Good governance…democratic institutions…and respect for the rule of law provide the enabling environment in which Nigeria can better use our assistance as well as the assistance of others through the creative solutions I have highlighted. It goes without saying that...promoting just and democratic governance…in Nigeria…is a core pillar of the United States government’s partnership with Nigeria.

We all recognize the flaws in the 2007 election process, however, since then President Yar'Adua has pledged a new commitment to the rule of law…a new commitment to respect the independence of the National Assembly and the courts…and a renewed commitment to anti-corruption efforts. Some judges and legislators have responded by demonstrating unprecedented independence. Electoral tribunals which had, in the past, merely rubber-stamped rigged elections, are now overturning some of the most egregiously flawed election results. Anti-corruption institutions are now challenging the culture of impunity by investigating powerful political figures in all sectors. Now even more remains to be done on all of these fronts.

Corruption, especially systemic corruption, is among the most powerful forces undermining good governance and poverty alleviation in Nigeria as it siphons financial resources, and creates barriers to investment, commercial activity, economic growth and most importantly, to development.

The impact of corruption touches each and every Nigerian, and robs each and every Nigerian everyday of a better future. A recent World Bank Institute Report (Dec 2006, released in 2007 on corruption in Nigeria) noted that…an improvement in institutional quality from current levels to those found in other places like Chile, for example, would translate into a seven-fold increase in per capita income in Nigeria over the long run. According to the World Bank, one standard deviation increase in corruption lowers investment rates by three percentage points, and the average annual growth of a country by one percentage point.

There is reason to hope that the climate of corruption is changing. The Government of Nigeria has made considerable strides in the fight against corruption. We are working with key institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ICPC, the Civil Service Federation and others in order to partner with the government, National Assembly, and civil society in their anti-corruption efforts. For example, we are funding financial crime advisors to help improve the operations of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, providing equipment to NDLEA – Nigeria’s Drug Agency, and have plans underway to enhance the professionalism and strengthen the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) through basic police recruitment programs, training of academy instructors and training of senior management in the NPF.

The political space opened up by President Yar'Adua has allowed us to provide comprehensive skills training to recently-elected members of the Nigerian National Assembly, its committees, and staff. In addition we will support Nigeria’s efforts on election reform, including pushing for a truly independent electoral commission – because the one in place now is not living up to that need. The Niger Delta needs special note as the problems and development challenges there - coupled with criminality - presents additional rungs in the poverty ladder. We are working with numerous civil society groups funding projects on agriculture, income generation, job skills and IT in the region.

This backdrop has clearly shown the relationship among poverty…governance, and corruption. But…it has also noted…where innovative solutions of government, the U.S. Government, civil society and the people of Nigeria are linked up to address these issues. I have a friend who always says that “poverty is a state of being, not a state of mind.” And these examples of innovation underscore this point as villages, communities, government, and active partners like the U.S. seek to improve the roadmap of Nigeria’s future.

Policy can make strides in the right direction. Nigerians know what must be done to craft a new roadmap of direction for the country… but it will not be easy…nor painless. It will require…demonstrated, sustained…committed support to the principles of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. It will require all – the government, businesses, civic leaders, but more importantly…the people of Nigeria…to stand up firm…for these issues, …to stand up firm against corruption whenever, and wherever it raises its ugly head. Be it fighting corruption or disease…or supporting democracy…and good governance…the United States is a steadfast friend, steadfast partner, and a steadfast ally of the Nigerian people in the fight against poverty here in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at The Dedication Ceremony of Rosa Parks Education and Information Center

Ambassador Robin Reneé Sanders

Dedication Ceremony of Rosa Parks Education and Information Center

U.S. Embassy
February 27, 2008
11 a.m.

Thank you for joining me today at this dedication of our education and information center in honor of a woman of courage – Rosa Louise Parks.

We have already heard from three courageous Nigerian women. Sandra, Ene (Ena), and Lilian, I am impressed by your accomplishments and honored that you are here today.

Today’s event is just one of a series of events both in Abuja and Lagos celebrating our national day this year, with a special emphasis on our diversity as a nation and as a people. Many of you know that in the United States February is African American History Month and March, which we are fast approaching, is Women’s History Month. So I think it is fitting that we recognize the singular achievements of a woman at this particular time.

Rosa Parks, who grew up in a segregated America, was a woman of great courage. She set an example for all who stand up for their rights as human beings and for their rights to participate fully in their societies.

On Thursday evening, December 1, 1955, after a long day of work as a seamstress for a Montgomery, Alabama department store, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus to go home and took a seat in the middle section.

As the bus became full, the driver told her to move to the back to make room for white passengers. Rosa, a woman who had obeyed the law all her life, said no, and refused to get up from her seat.

As brave as she was, her action violated segregation laws, and she was arrested and jailed.

However, her courage that day set off a chain of events that reverberated throughout American society and changed the legal, historical, and cultural landscape of America.

Almost one year after Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery’s segregation laws were unconstitutional. The very next day, Rosa Parks, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., boarded a city bus and proudly took a seat right up front. Because of her courage Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in the United States.

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, the highest honor given by the U.S. executive branch and cited as one of the most influential women of the 20th century, Mrs. Parks went on in life to always ensure she helped others who were less fortunate.

She worked tirelessly to motivate and direct youth to help them achieve their highest potential. Rosa Parks saw the energy of young people as a real force for change. It was among her most treasured themes of human priorities as she spoke to young people of all ages at schools, colleges, and national organizations around the world.

Her life was a profound example of courage, dignity, and determination underscoring the importance of believing in yourself, and living by your principles. Mrs. Parks’ quiet singular courageous act changed a nation, and redirected the course of the history of the United States.

Thus, it is my very great honor to dedicate this center to the life and to the legacy of this incredible global citizen – Rosa Louise Parks.

We have commissioned her portrait and a plaque to hang on the wall of this center so everyone who walks in here will feel her spirit and I hope be inspired by her commitment to justice.

And now it is with great pride that I dedicate this center to the memory of Rosa Louise Parks and hereby name it the Rosa Parks Education and Information Center.