Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Town Hall, Memorial, Farewell Lunch and International Meet and Greet

December 25, 2009: Tough. There is an attempted attack on a U.S. airliner.

December 22: Gave major USG policy speech on our concerns about the slow movement on election reform, the need to do more to fight corruption. Goal is to put markers down early about USG focus on these issues. Event held at NIIA and sponsored by former Humphrey fellows. Also expressed USG best wished for the recovery and health of the Nigerian President.

November 24: Ailing Nigeria President leaves Nigeria for medical treatment in Jeddah.

November 22: Abuja Marine Ball. Hosted a table of fellow Ambassadors and High Commissioners. Gave remarks on my respect for the Corps, their love of country, and that I never forget that detachment members are also the sons and daughters of our great nation. Spoke about my background as a daughter of a military man, and the importance that my parents instilled in me for love of service. Always make sure I stop by the Embassy to say happy birthday to the standard bearer Marine on watch that night.

November 20: MOU with Katsina signed. Had opportunity to sign MOU with the Governor of Katsina to solidify areas of focused outlined in the July 2009 visit. This includes he USG work on education with the University and building university level exchange programs and linkages. Right now looks like Lincoln University will move forward with both a student and teacher exchange program. In addition farmers from Katsina will be involved in the USG Foreign Agricultural Program exchanges, food storage and other programs. Three schools will be refurbished by humanitarian assistance through Africa Command, and help with irrigation and waste incineration.

November 7: Lagos Marine Ball. Hosted a table of friends. My remarks highlighted long relationship between the Marine Corps and the Department of State. Introducted all the members of the detachment and saluted their service and listed their home towns.

Oct 15-17: Finally making my official visit to the headquarters of Africa Command (aka Africom) in Stuttgart, Germany. Was hosted by the 4-star Commander and his components. Great visit, wonderful support for the U.S. Mission in Nigeria from Africa Partnership Stations training, mil-to-mil relationship.

Oct 5-7: At USG Ambassadorial conference called, Chief of Mission Conference in Washington, D.C. -- an opportunity to dialogue with all U.S. Ambassadors assigned to the Africa Continent -- sharing views, dialoging on policy, hearing goals on U.S.-Africa relationship

August 11: U.S. Sectary of State (SecState) Clinton visits Nigeria for 1st time as SecState. Held key bilateral mtgs, announced a Binational Commission with Nigeria, held a one of a kind town hall with key non-government players, fielding great questions from Nigerians on their concern about corruption and good governance. TownHall seen as best practice. For me had the opportunity to greet SecState on arrival, participate in bilats, and host her at the USG official residence with key political leaders, including several former Presidents of Nigeria. She also held an Interfaith Dialogue.

July 15: Took Interagency USG team Katsina as part of our Pilot Engagement with States Program (PES) which seeks to work with states who are doing positive social sector development in health, agriculture, and education. Katsina is the home state of the President of Nigeria. Visited the wonderful University there and my team did a presentation of what they can do to further help the goals and vision of the state. Our humanitarian assistance folks will help with refurbishing schools and clinics, and building waste incinerators for hospitals. On agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service will expand exchange programs while USAID will look to focus on the health sector.

July 5: Had Birthday gathering with friends in Lagos. Nice day and good food

June 23, 2009: Today was a mix of several emotions as I held my second community-wide town hall meeting, said farewell to a colleague, remembered the life of a fallen member of our local guard force, and sought to provide a friendly venue for members of the expatriate community to come together to have a non-policy night in order to get to know each other better. As for the town hall meeting, it was an opportunity for me to thank the many staff members who are leaving this summer, welcome the newcomers, and highlight in broad terms the vision and focus of the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, and have my management, community liaison, and security officers brief the Mission community on efforts to improve customer service to residential homes, emphasize what is on tap for community activities for the summer, and reinforce the importance of personal security. The latter point on personal security was particularly noteworthy as we would all move after the town hall session to the outside grassy knoll area of the U.S. Embassy Compound to hold a memorial service for a fallen member of our broader community – the guard force – who had been shot and killed on June 11, 2009, in the execution of his duties. During the memorial service with all U.S. Mission community members present, I planted a tree on the grassy knoll after speaking to the guard's assembled family members noting that with every year of growth of the tree, may the life of the fallen guard be remembered. I then presented flowers to his niece who was representing the bereaved widow, followed by a moment of silence. It was a solemn occasion for all.

Later that evening, I hosted the Mission's first International Meet and Greet Reception at the official residence for nearly 200 people from various walks of life in the expatriate community, from NGOs to the private sector to the diplomatic community.