Remarks by Ambassador James F. Entwistle – Opening of the Federal Government Spokespersons’ Workshop, Abuja (November 9, 2015)

Valencia Hotel, Abuja | November 9, 2015

(as prepared for delivery)

All protocols observed.

I am delighted to join the Minister of Information this morning to open this very important workshop for you.  At the request of President Buhari, the United States is assisting the Nigerian government to enhance their press operations.  Last month, Vice President Osinbajo welcomed our assistance in establishing a Nigerian interagency messaging center to counter Boko Haram and violent extremist propaganda.  The messaging center, spokespersons’ workshops, and other related activities reinforce our commitment to the deep partnership that we have long enjoyed with Nigeria.

I am also happy to report this training will be replicated in Kaduna later on this week for the benefit of northern governors’ spokespersons and in Lagos next week for spokespersons of governors in the south.

These trainings, funded by the people of the United States, come in response to President Buhari’s request for help training spokespersons, at both the federal and state level, in effective press office operations.  A particular emphasis will be placed on countering radical narratives and helping you to create a strong network of colleagues throughout the Government of Nigeria.

Effective government press operations are critical to communicating clear and timely information to the public. Your ability to deliver President Buhari’s messages about counterterrorism, ending corruption, and furthering economic development are important to the future of Nigeria.

Your work carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. It will shape public knowledge and perceptions of the government.  Doing this job effectively, in a fast-paced, technology-driven world requires cutting edge skills.

To that end the United States has brought Mr. Eduardo Cue to Nigeria, an expert in government communications.  Mr. Cue is a top instructor in this field, and this is his second training trip to Nigeria.  He trained several of the elections reporters in Abuja and Lagos who covered the 2015 elections.  Once again, the U.S. Embassy is proud to partner with the Nigeria Union of Journalists in this endeavor.

Open and unfettered access to information is the essential ingredient that promotes democracy and accountability in governance.  In this two-day training, Mr. Cue will teach the critical components for an effective press office operation. He will also coach participants on developing inter-governmental talking points.  You will also benefit from his techniques that will enhance your relationships with the media.  Please take full advantage of and enjoy this opportunity.

In closing, let me reiterate, the United States stands with Nigeria as your democracy grows.  We do so as your friend and partner.  I look forward to watching your implementation of the lessons you learn here.

Thank you.