In demonstration of his readiness to do closer business with Nigeria, United States President Barrack 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, right opposite the White House.
When President Muhammadu Buhari arrives in the United States of America on Monday next week, he will be hosted at the Blair House, the official guest house of the American President, NewsDay has learnt.
This is in clear departure from the American government’s attitude to visiting Heads of State, particularly African leaders.
It is also in demonstration of US President Barrack Obama’s admiration of President Buhari and to support the Nigerian leader’s acclaimed frugal lifestyle and disdain for ostentatious lifestyle.
The decision to host President Buhari in the official Guest House of the United States 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.
It was also learnt that although the Nigerian protocol unit had planned the trip to be for two days, the US government offered to accommodate the visitors of three days.
During official visits to Washington D.C. while in office, former President 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 of the Nigerian new leader, according to sources, Presidents Buhari and Obama 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 war on corruption, particularly transparency in public service.
According to Wikipedia, the Blair House is located at 1651–1653 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., opposite the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, off the corner of Lafayette Park.
The main house was built in 1824. The original brick house was built as a private home for Joseph Lovell, eighth Surgeon General of the United States Army. In 1836, it was acquired by Francis Preston Blair, a newspaper publisher and influential adviser to President Andrew Jackson. It would remain in his family for the following century.
In 1859, Blair built a house for his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Blair Lee and Captain Samuel Phillips Lee, at 1653 Pennsylvania Avenue, next door to Blair House at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue. Captain Lee (later an admiral) was a grandson of Richard Henry Lee and third cousin of Robert E. Lee. The houses have since been combined, and the complex is sometimes referred to as the Blair-Lee House, though Blair House is the official name today.