Despite the challenges facing Nigeria, the future of the nation in the advancement of its democracy remained strong, the Public Affairs Counsellor, Embassy of the United States of America, Adnan Siddiqui, has said.
He also commended the Federal Government for the return of Twitter to Nigeria, describing it as “a very positive step forward and we welcome that.”
Siddiqui stated these in an interview with journalists in Abuja during the presentation of music equipment to a civil rights organization, Accountability Lab Nigeria.
The promoters of the program said the gesture would provide opportunities for artists for music recording and production and also hold a series of songwriting courses, including access to a recording studio for free.
The Country Director of Accountability Lab, Friday Odeh, said it is a platform for youths to upgrade their skills in music.
He said, “Accessibility is one thing which we have done; so, on our part, we are going to make the necessary awareness for them to see that this is available to them because some people know where to find the money when they have information, others don’t have.
“I will advise them to take this opportunity and prove and improve themselves.”
Democracy not perfect anywhere
While acknowledging that democracy is not perfect anywhere in the world, Siddiqui said that music could be used as a medium to douse the challenges facing Nigeria.
He said, “That is why we are here, that is why Americans are engaged in dialogue with Nigerians about issues of democracy, good governance and accountability. There are a lot of important discussions that need to take place and we are very hopeful that Nigeria has a strong future in this regard of democracy.
“You know, democracy is not perfect; even in the United States, we deal with ups and downs in terms of how much freedom people can actually benefit from. With freedom comes responsibility, you can’t say irresponsible things in the media if it hurts society and that is true of any country. Nigeria is a democracy and Nigeria is committed to having democratic values that are enshrined in its constitution and in the law.
“So we are trying to strike a balance, Nigeria is trying to strike a balance and as you noticed, Twitter came back in Nigeria and that was a very positive step forward and we welcome that.
We are always for more freedom of expression.”
Music used to douse national challenges
The US Public Affairs Counsellor said his country had always been interested in music as a means to communicate with other countries because music diplomacy has a long history in American foreign policy ever since the 1940s and 1950s.
“We have had many music exchange programmes with Nigeria, since her independence. Before the COVID came, we were actually sponsoring American musicians to come and perform at various venues in Nigeria and we are waiting for COVID to end to be able to bring American artists safely to Nigeria to perform and we hope to have an American pianist come in March to perform in Lagos and in Abuja.
“I believe that good music and good songwriting involves consciousness-raising on a variety of social and cultural, political and economic issues and so a lot of young people in Nigeria are very much impacted by what is going on in the country.
“They want to speak out and we encourage freedom of expression in the United States and throughout the world, I think this is an opportunity for Nigerian musicians, songwriters and singers to be able to have the material means to produce their songs. That is why we are interested in investing in equipment to donate to this group.”
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