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Visit of Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria Remarks of the President and the Nigerian Head of State at the Welcoming Ceremony.

October 11, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. This morning we're greatly pleased and honored to have as our guest General Obasanjo, the head of state of one of the great nations of Africa, indeed, one of the great nations of the world.

Historically, Nigeria has been a friend of our country. This is a nation with about 80 million people--a federation, like ours, of 19 states, a country fairly new in its own present government.

And our distinguished guest this morning was not only a courageous fighter for liberty and independence but, in his first visit to our own Nation, he came here as one seeking to reconstruct the economy and the people's lives of Nigeria. He's a distinguished military man in war and also has proven himself to be a distinguished military leader in peace.

Nigeria is a country of great importance to us. There is no doubt that this is a most important nation economically in Africa. We have great trade already between our country and Nigeria, a total of about $6 billion per year. Nigeria is a nation making great social and political progress. A new constitution has already been drafted for this great country, substantially similar to our own, providing for a president, a bicameral legislature, and the continuation of a completely independent judiciary, which has always been a part of the political life of Nigeria.

Nigeria has also moved to establish universal primary education and to use the wealth that has come from their natural resources, as has our own country in the past and at present, to enrich the lives of the people who live there.

Nigeria is a nation of great pride and also a growing leadership, not only among the nations of Africa but throughout the developing world and, indeed, throughout all nations on Earth.

We are very proud of the presence of this great leader. Seventeen years ago President Eisenhower met with the Prime Minister of Nigeria. A year later President Kennedy met with the Prime Minister of Nigeria. And now we have the head of state of a new and independent Nigeria. It's a great honor for us to have General Obasanjo here with us, with his leading fellow executives and diplomats, to consult with me and my own Cabinet members.

We will be probing ways of increased mutual partnership in dealing with the troubled region of the world and seeking for ways to tie our countries even closer together in a mutual partnership involving politics and economics.

I'm very proud that General Obasanjo has been able to come to our country. And I will be visiting his country in about 6 weeks. This will be the first state visit of a President to the black nations of Africa, and it's no coincidence that my point of visit will be Lagos, the capital of Nigeria.

Let me say in closing that in addition to forming mutual positions and compatible positions on matters of great moment to us and to the rest of the world, I will be seeking General Obasanjo's advice in how best we can orient our own foreign policy to accommodate the special needs, the special problems, and the special hopes of the great continent of Africa.

So, in many ways this will be a fruitful meeting for us, for Nigeria, I believe, for the continent of Africa, and for the entire world.

General Obasanjo, we are very proud to have you here. And on behalf of 215 million Americans, I extend to you our heartiest welcome and our gratitude for your superb leadership and the greatness of your country.


President Carter, your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I am delighted to be here in this great country and to have the opportunity of personally conveying to you, Mr. President, the Government and the people of the United States, greetings and good wishes of the Government and people of Nigeria.

My present visit to the United States marks a new and favorable tone in the efforts to foster cooperation and amity between our two countries.

Mr. President, Nigeria and the United States share many common experiences. Our two countries have behind them a history of colonial rule and political struggles for independence. Both have progressive, dynamic, and resourceful peoples deeply committed to freedom, equality, social justice, and the pursuit of international peace and security. Of equal importance is the element of ethnic affinity between our two countries. I have no doubt that this visit will afford both our Governments the opportunity to build upon these and the many other bonds that unite us.

We also look forward to elaborating upon the initiatives and dialog we have started regarding the many matters of crucial importance to Africa and the world. Indeed, it is only recently that the Western Powers as a whole have come to realize that the quest for global peace and security also involves ensuring the stability and rapid development of Africa.

We in Nigeria, particularly, welcome such a realization on the part of the United States Government and people. We hope that our discussions will contribute towards the progress of the African Continent, a process in which your Government and people can make significant and welcome contributions. In this respect, Mr. President, I am sure that we shall pay appropriate attention to the specific issues of the highly volatile and potentially dangerous situation in southern Africa, a situation which threatens international peace and security.

Human degradation, oppression and deprivation, as rationalized and perpetuated in southern Africa by the racist regimes there, is a crime against which not only Africa but all mankind as a whole must fight.

Needless to say, we also attach great importance to other elements of our bilateral relations, particularly in the economic and technical spheres. We in Nigeria have embarked upon a program of economic and industrial development for the period 1975 through 1980. We are happy to note that the major industrialized countries are already actually participating in this program. It is our hope that the United States, with its enormous economic and technological capabilities, will find ample opportunities in the program for fuller participation.

Mr. President, may I express the immense appreciation of myself and my delegation to you and the Government and people of the United States for inviting us to visit you. We look forward to a happy stay in your country.
Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:37 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria Remarks of the President and the Nigerian Head of State at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242800

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