Remarks by Consul General Jeffrey Hawkins Premiere of Selma Rock Cathedral, Lekki Sunday (February 8, 2015)

Thank you, Pastor Paul.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

Let me take this opportunity to commend Pastor Paul and his congregation for their extraordinary efforts to promote peace and dialog.  In the past two and half years, I have had the privilege of getting to know this remarkable man.  I have been deeply impressed not only with the strength of his faith but with his patriotism and commitment to a democratic Nigeria.  Tonight’s stellar event is yet another example of his creativity and talent, and of all the hard work and organizational ability of his House on the Rock team.  Thank you Pastor Paul.

To David Oyolowo, thank you for coming to Lagos.  You have put your superb artistic talent to use in portraying a great American and, indeed, a world leader, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King’s message is particularly relevant in 2015, both in the United States and in Nigeria.  Thank you for bringing that message to Lagos tonight.  Carmen, you too, we very much appreciate your role as Coretta Scott King. Thank you for joining us here.

The screening of Selma could not have come at a better time.  Nigeria is preparing for its next electoral contest, a defining moment in Nigeria’s democratic process.  This is a great nation, but it faces great challenges.  Dr. King’s example – tenacity in the face of injustice, tolerance and brotherhood towards all men and women – shines through these challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to introduce Ambassador James Entwistle, who will set the stage for tonight’s screening.  Ambassador Entwistle is one of our most experienced diplomats in Africa, and he has held a variety of senior posts on the continent, in Asia, and in Washington.  The Ambassador arrived in Nigeria on October 28, 2013.  Since then, he has tirelessly led the U.S. Mission in strengthening U.S.-Nigeria bilateral ties on a broad range of issues, including good governance and rule of law, regional security, promotion of U.S. business ties with Nigeria, and respect for human rights.

In the last few months, Ambassador Entwistle has led U.S. efforts to support the electoral process here in Nigeria.  Under his leadership, the United States has provided assistance to the Independent National Electoral Commission, engaged extensively with civil society, religious figures, and politicians, and organized a large-scale observation effort for the upcoming elections.  Two weeks ago today, the Ambassador hosted Secretary of State John Kerry for discussions with Nigeria’s principal presidential candidates.  Ambassador Entwistle has been a dynamic champion for non-violence, just like Dr. King, and has called repeatedly for peaceful elections.  Tomorrow, in conjunction with Pastor Paul and a number of other religious leaders, he will host the two Lagos gubernatorial candidates at the signing of a peace pledge.

Please help me welcome Ambassador James Entwistle.