Remarks by U.S. Mission Spokesperson Jeanne Clark Democracy Town Hall, Kano, January 19, 2022.

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  • Posted by: Imoh Robert

We are grateful to all journalists, politics academic, and business leaders’ hare with us today. Many of you here in attendance wear more than one hat. You’re activists and advocate human rights defender.

I am pleased to see students in our midst who will learn from the collective experience here in the room, share their unique perspectives, inspiring stories, and innovative approaches which we all need to listen to. Today’s youth know better than anyone where the world is headed and are the ones who will inherit it. So, we have a serious obligation to ensure youth have a seat at the table.

We are proud to be hare in Kano today for our second iteration of a town hall meeting called to recognize the importance of a free media in a democracy, and to more closely examine roles and responsibilities as citizens and professionals in strengthening democracy.

READ ALSO: Speech By The General Secretary Nigerian Guild Of Editors Mr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren At The North-West Town Hall Meeting On January 19, 2022, Kano

In the past weeks, much has transpired and we have much to discus. The Republic of Korea hosted the Open Government Summit. President Biden hosted the Summit for Democracy, and Nigeria joined us and over 100 other Countries in Committing to action. The American Presidential Initiative for Democracy Renewal focuses on independent media anti-corruption, democracy reform, open technology and for elections. As a result of the Summit, we’re launching:


  • Partnerships to strengthen cooperation among democracies
  • New tools for accountability & Transparency
  • And a position to coordinate global anti-corruption efforts


The U.S. is taking bold action in 5 key areas: Supporting Free and

Independent Media; Fighting Corruption; Bolstering Democracy Reformers; Advancing Technology for Democracy; and Defending Free and for Elections and Political Processes.

Bolstering democracy and defending human rights are central to the State Department’s mission. We will play a key role in the “Year of Action” following the Summit for Democracy.

Here in Nigeria, we’ve witnessed some important developments as well. President Buhari began 2022 engaging the media in two important interviews, and the long suspension of Twitter finally lifted. Any and all efforts to increase transparency and upon mutes for citizens to freely express their thoughts and opinions are positive steps to begin a new year.

Let’s be clear: getting things done in a democracy is not always easy. Democracy is messy. Democracy is hard. Democracy required compromise and that means that no is ever going 100 percent of what they want. Now, that doesn’t mean we compromise on every value – things like protecting the equal human rights of every individual – but it does mean that we have to engage with people we disagree with and strive to find areas where our interest overlap and where we can move the hall forward for the good of the Country.

From threats that stem from climate change, the COVID – 19 pandemic, or on issues such as the shifting economic, racial justice, and inclusion and security the decisions we make this year will reverberate for years to come. While many of us here in this room publicly sought a return of Twitter in Nigeria. Many more authoritarian leaning governments learned to misuse digital technology to repress population and expand government power.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power reflected back on ten years ago, where a summit for democracy might have been a cause for celebration. Social media helped bring down dictators in the A Spring, and the Internet, at that time, was still seen as fostering openness and transparency. It seemed that access to information and the ability for people to connect, at that across border would shake authoritarian regimes to their core and accelerate progress toward democracy. Today, she notes that “it seems the opposite has happened. The rise of new technologies over the past two decades parallels the democratic recession and the internet helped fuel it. While it’s true that digital benefit from every day, it has also given governments the ability to surveil, to censor, and to repress their people as never before. Authoritarians learned that Big Date, social media control the Internet, and artificial intelligence could make them even more powerful. The U.S. will partner with allied democracies to address this and develop open-source technology that respects human rights.

Each of you has a very important role to play in utilizing technology to push for transparency and accountability while restoring the trust that the public once had in the media. In Nigeria, just is in my county, public trust in the media and in governmental institutions has ended. As Ambassador Leonard has noted, patronage politics, corruption, inequality, and the failure of many democratic governments to deliver for their citizens fuel public and media doubt about the democratic model, causing them to lose hope and accept the status quo as normal “We need work together to earn that back by demonstrating that professional media only publisher verified facts, by clearly setting forth hypothesis and doing the analytical work to evidence when hunches become fact. Media needs to identify and address bias before the public labels become permanent.

Democracy’s greatest strength is the ability to improve upon and reinvent itself. When the citizenry’s belief in democracy good government and elections are restored, invariable they will want to be a part of that system and will defend it. Access to accurate, unbiased information is critical to democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choice rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second. Information that is publicly accessible to all ensures that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of these who elected them.

In this “Year of Action” we also look forward to strengthen global partners to fight for increased transparency and accountability and to accomplish this Secretary Blinker announced the appointment of a coordinator on global anti-corruption. U.S. Treasure Secretary Janet Yellen said during the summit that her department is building a database to identify the owners of shell companies, which are often funded by corrupt actors. The U.S. also plans real estate regulations to prevent individuals from hiding illicit funds in private property.

We recognize the essential role that the media plays in democracy, which is why Secretary Blinken announced funding to support struggling independent news organization “We’ll make the biggest contribution by any government to the recently launched International Fund for Public Interest Media an innovative new initiative that provides assistance to at-risk independent news outlets

We have long appreciated high quality Nigerian journalism, which can he fund in every comer of Nigeria. We applaud like the Open Contract Reporting project of the International Centre for Investigation Reporting which provides essential tools, strategy, and mentorship to journalists to better examine and question governmental waste. International partnerships that result in the publication of the Pandora papers, the FimCEN file, and the Panama papers before that, make the public take notice of corruption in their community.

These high quality collaborations have resulted in public official around the world losing their positions and facing prosecution. Just this week, Premium Times underscores the lack of accountability for politically exposed persons, and explained how this damages Nigeria’s international reputation. With transparent, principled, consistent media behavior such as this, the public will increasingly pressure the government to justify is inaction or vote in a replacement.

Irene Khan, UN Special Reporter on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, highlighted that “media freedom is the oxygen of democracy, “and we could not agree more. The U.S Government announced new actions and commitments in areas such as holstering free and independent media fighting corruption; defending free and fair elections; strengthening civil capacity, advancing the civil and political leadership of women, girls, and marginalized community members; and harnessing technology for democracy renewal.

We at the U.S. mission remain committed to standing to with you us you embolden democracy in Nigeria in the year ahead. I thank you all for your participation today and look forward to the opportunity in learn of ongoing partnerships, enhanced networking and crucial mentoring of the need generation.









Author: Imoh Robert

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