Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Maria E. Brewer Visit to the Kuchingoro II Internally Displaced Persons Settlement Abuja (November 24, 2015)

(as prepared for delivery) 

Good morning, everyone.

I just had the opportunity to have a look around your settlement.  Many people would be surprised to learn that a settlement for IDPs exists right here in Nigeria’s capital.  The U.S. Mission to Nigeria, including Ambassador Entwistle himself, has visited camps in the northeast, where Boko Haram has been carrying out its reign of terror.  And whether it’s in Abuja or Adamawa, there is no question that the insurgency has dramatically affected the lives of millions of Nigerians.

Almost 2 million people live in settlements all across the country as a result of Boko Haram’s violence.  Some are brand new and some, like this one, were established two years ago.  Families need to be resilient and find a way to make ends meet.  And what I have observed here today is that while you may have been displaced, you certainly have not been defeated.

As a friend of the Nigerian people, the United States stands ready to help you overcome what may appear to be an insurmountable obstacle.  For this reason, we have created several different programs to assist the Government of Nigeria in providing relief to those most affected by the insurgency—to those forced to relocate, to those who have lost family and friends, to those who have lost nearly everything they once had.

In the northeast, the U.S. government has provided millions of dollars in health services, food vouchers, basic necessities, and medical care.  We have also helped repair schools and offered support to get children back into school.

Away from those places most severely hit, the U.S. government is helping your government find solutions to aid those fleeing the northeast and manage a coordinated response.  We provide training and expertise to all levels; this includes supporting a large development effort to help Nigeria become the strong and competitive country and economy it so deserves to be.

At the foundation of every strong economy is entrepreneurship.  The spirit of entrepreneurship I see captures the resilience and tenacity embedded in the Nigerian people that will lead to the demise of Boko Haram and other threats to your way of life.  Here in this settlement, USAID’s micro-enterprise training is teaching the basics of handling money and running a profitable business so that you can better support your families.  Whether in the household, within Ladi Matthias’s akara stand or Genesis Musa’s convenience shop, Dangote’s largest enterprises, or the Government, making wise decisions on what to save and invest is critical.

Last week, the world celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week, but today proves that entrepreneurship happens every day of the year.  In Nigeria, the type of micro-entrepreneurship happening develops the skills that are vital for helping people rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities.   As President Obama said, “Entrepreneurship builds stronger and more secure communities, empowering people of every gender, race, and background.”

I know that I cannot begin to understand the nightmare through which you have all lived.  But the vibrant and promising activity that I have seen today gives me great hope for the dreams you have for you and your families.  Rest assured that the United States will be there as your friend in your struggle.

Thank you very much for having me.  I wish you all the best.