This blog entry is written byNancy Brinker, Chief of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State.
Yesterday morning I greeted the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and his delegation. We congratulated him on his successful recent election. The election was on April 21, 2007 and it will mark the first transfer of power from one elected civilian president to another in the country.
President Bush and he discussed many issues including social justice, rule of law, democracy and security issues. President Bush brought up the joint concerns our countries have about AIDS and malaria. Also, President Bush stressed that the United States is interested in being helpful in Nigeria with childhood education and making sure every child has one!
Before I brought President Yar’Adua in to meet the President, we stayed for several minutes as he signed the guestbook in the Roosevelt Room of the White House West Wing (across the hall from the Oval Office). I was curious about his background in Chemistry and began to ask how it related to his current position. He answered thoughtfully that thinking as a chemist helped him to problem solve and approach problems carefully and creatively. As most of my life has been intertwined with biological science, our conversation drifted to health care and his concern for his countries needs. In addition to AIDS, we discussed the management of chronic disease and he told me that though life spans had increased in his country from 48 to 57 over the last several years, he was very concerned that there wasn't enough care for cancer patients or other chronic illnesses. We also discussed the land. He said it was fairly flat so that it could accommodate the development. There are many young people under 15 and he said how important it was to have them be educated and productive. It was a highly educative day and opportunity to visit with another interesting leader.
Today at the White House we have the President Garcia of Peru. He is meeting with President Bush and then they are signing the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Tonight, The President and Mrs. Bush are coming here to the State Department for our Holiday Reception for our Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions and their spouses. It is going to be a great day!