In demonstration of his readiness to forge closer ties with Nigeria, US President Barack Obama will be breaking his administration’s tradition when President Muhammadu Buhari arrives in Washington D.C. on a state visit on Monday next week.
The American leader will host President Buhari as his personal guest at the Blair House, the official guest house of the American president right opposite the White House, for three days.
This is a clear departure from the American government’s attitude to visiting heads of state, particularly Nigerian leaders.
It is also a demonstration of Obama’s admiration of President Buhari and a thumbs-up for the Nigerian leader’s acclaimed frugal lifestyle and disdain for ostentation.
The decision to host President Buhari in the official guest house of the US president will not only cut down the cost of the trip, but also allow time for informal discussions by both leaders.
Buhari is said to have pegged his entourage at 32, a clear departure from the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan who was once reported to have embarked on a two-day trip with a team of about 100 persons.
During official visits to Washington D.C. while in office, Jonathan and his entourage usually stayed at the Westin Grand Hotel. At other times, he booked Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Pierre Hotel.
During the coming visit, the two leaders will exchange ‘wish lists’. These will contain the requests of both leaders from each other, as well as firm pledges on how they plan to come to each other’s aid.
It was learnt that top on the US government’s pledges is greater assistance in the fight against terrorism. In return, the US government wants Nigeria to show greater commitment to the war on corruption, particularly transparency in public service.