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Since democracy was restored there a decade ago, relations between Nigeria and the United States have been warm and marked by cooperation on many regional and international issues. Our 2 nations are major trading partners and allies on regional security. Nigeria’s size, economic prowess and potential, and regional and international roles make it one of the most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
But in other areas Nigeria still has far to go. Efforts to propel economic and democratic progress have been slowed by pervasive corruption and poor governance. Reforms have been made, but they are not bringing measurable improvement in the lives of many Nigerians.
The U.S. has worked to help Nigeria address its challenges with health and education assistance, expanded trade, and programs to foster government transparency and to combat corruption. And as good friends do, it has spoken out to remind Nigeria's leaders of their responsibilities to their people and the international community.
In remarks at the U.S. State Department recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that poor living standards and ineffective efforts by the government to address crime and corruption are alienating many Nigerians.
"The failure of the Nigerian leadership over many years to respond to the legitimate needs of their own young people, to have a government that promoted a meritocracy, that really understood that democracy can't just be given lip service, that it has to be delivering services to the people, has meant there is a lot of alienation in that country and others," Secretary Clinton said.
This is seen in the alleged attempt by a young Nigerian man to blow up a U.S. commercial airliner on Christmas Day. It is also evident in ongoing sectarian violence in Northern Nigeria and the struggle against the government and international oil companies by militants in the Niger Delta.
These acts highlight needs that should and must be addressed by Nigeria's leaders. The U.S. looks forward to continuing to work with Nigeria, one of the most important partners in Africa, to realize its potential for its own people and the region.