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and speaking so powerfully for the young people of Nigeria. I'd like to 
hear them both on a regular basis again. I thought they were terrific, 
and I know you're proud of them.
    I would like to acknowledge the contributions in particular of one 
Member of the American Congress who is here, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 
who along with Representative Jim Leach--[applause]--thank you, Barbara. 
Along with Representative Jim Leach of Iowa, she sponsored the historic 
bipartisan global AIDS act I signed last week. And I thank her and the 
Congress for their support of the worldwide battle against AIDS.
    This program today is a sober reminder that while it is wonderful 
that the people of Nigeria are finally free, to be free does not mean to 
be free of all burdens or all challenges. Indeed, there are challenges 
so serious that if they are left unmet, your democracy will not mean 
very much. The fight against infectious diseases is one such challenge.
    Believe it or not, for all our modern medical advances, infectious 
diseases still account for one out of every four deaths around the 
world, and half the victims--that's why it's good this baby is crying; 
it will remind us of this--half the victims of infectious diseases are 
under 5 years of age. Chiefly because of malaria, mosquitoes will be 
responsible for the death of more than one million people this year.
    And of course, there is no greater challenge than AIDS. No child 
should come into the world with such a deadly disease when it could have 
been prevented. Yet that is happening to millions of African children. 
No community should go without a teacher, yet teachers are dying and 
schools are actually closing because of AIDS. No country should struggle 
to rise out of poverty while fighting a disease that can cut life 
expectancy by as much as 30 years. Yet that already had happened--
already--in some countries on this continent.
    It hasn't happened in Nigeria, thank goodness. But that should not 
be a cause for complacency but instead a call for action. Already there 
are almost 3 million Nigerians living with AIDS. President Obasanjo has 
spoken eloquently today and before today about the challenge and his 
determination to meet it. The only thing I can say to the rest of the 
people of Nigeria is that you must join with the President and with all 
the public health advocates and all the citizens' groups and all the 
people that are present here and the people you represent to help. AIDS 
can rob a country of its future. I know you are not going to let that 
happen to Nigeria.
    I also want to acknowledge that this is not just Nigeria's fight or 
Africa's fight. It is America's fight and the world's fight, too.
    I hope the wealthier countries will do their part, first by 
supporting our initiative to speed the development of vaccines for AIDS, 
malaria, and TB. Just a month ago, at the G-8 summit in Japan, at which 
President Obasanjo appeared, we mobilized billions of dollars to fight 
infectious diseases with the development of vaccines. In addition, we 
have to do more to support the efforts you

[[Page 1958]]

have going now. This year the United States will provide $10 million to 
support your efforts against AIDS, three times more than last year; 
nearly $9 million for polio eradication; $2 million to help you protect 
your children from malaria by distributing bed nets. I must say, that 
bed net that I saw outside this building when I came up, it has to be 
the biggest one in the world--[laughter]--but it certainly made the 
point. And I congratulate you on it.
    I'd also like to thank the president of the Packard Foundation, 
Richard Schlosberg, and the others who are here from the Packard 
Foundation. Where are they? Stand up here. [Applause] There you go. 
Thank you. Over the next 5 years, Packard will make $35 million in 
grants to improve the reproductive health of Nigerian women, and I thank 
them.
    We will also continue to support other education and development 
initiatives including microenterprise loans and greater access for 
technology and education that will help to develop the capacity and the 
willingness and the understanding among children and among women to do 
what is necessary to avoid the most dreaded diseases.
    We know, as your President has just said again, that it will also 
take leadership from Africa. Last April President Obasanjo convened a 
malaria summit, bringing together 44 nations to Nigeria and mobilizing 
the private sector, and next year, as he said, he will host African 
leaders for the summit on AIDS. Later this year, Nigeria will join 17 
African countries for three polio national immunization days. Millions 
of children will be immunized in the largest synchronized health event 
in the history of Africa. Thank you for that.
    I'd also like to thank Rotary International, the World Health 
Organization, UNICEF and the U.N. Foundation, and most of all, the 
volunteers for helping in this cause. And I see we have a lot of people 
from Rotary here today; thank you very much. That is the kind of 
volunteer organized help we need in the fight against AIDS.
    Someday a vaccine will come. We must help it come faster. Yes, there 
must be more done by the wealthy countries to get you medicines, 
especially those that will keep AIDS from being transferred from mothers 
when they're pregnant to their newborn babies. And we will help you do 
that.
    But let's remember something. There is one thing quite different 
from AIDS and most killer diseases. AIDS is 100 percent preventable if 
we are willing to deal with it openly and honestly. In every country, in 
any culture, it is difficult, painful, at the very least embarrassing, 
to talk about the issues involved with AIDS. But is it harder to talk 
about these things than to watch a child die of AIDS who could have 
lived if the rest of us had done our part? Is it harder to talk about 
than to comfort a child whose mother has died? We have to break the 
silence about how this disease spreads and how to prevent it, and we 
need to fight AIDS, not people with AIDS. They are our friends and 
allies.
    I admire profoundly the strength of Nigeria's religious traditions. 
But the teachings of every faith command us to fight for the lives of 
our children. I would like particularly to thank the Muslim Sisters 
Organization for recognizing that and for their many good works in this 
regard.
    Let me say that the good news is, we know this can be done. AIDS 
infection rates have dropped dramatically in our country, but they also 
have dropped dramatically in some places in Africa. If Uganda and 
Senegal can stem the rising tide of infection, so can Nigeria and every 
other African country.
    I am amazed at the courage of the people of Nigeria in struggling 
against the oppression that you endured for too long until you got your 
democracy. I urge you now to show that same kind of courage to beat the 
tyranny of this disease so you can keep your democracy alive for all the 
children of Nigeria and their future.
    You can do this. We will help you. We know we have to do more, but 
so do you. We must not let all the gains that have happened in Nigeria 
and throughout Africa be destroyed by a disease we can prevent if only 
we can get over our reluctance to deal with the uncomfortable aspects of 
it. These children's lives are at stake, and they are worth a little 
discomfort by those of us who have already lived most of our lives.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

[[Page 1959]]

 Note:  The President spoke at 4:25 p.m. at the National Center for 
Women Development. In his remarks, he referred to President Olusegun 
Obasanjo and Minister of Women Affairs and Youth Development Hajia Aisha 
Ismail of Nigeria; Timiebi Koripano-Agary, director general, and Tayo 
Akimuwagun, peer educator, National Center for Women Development; and 
Richard T. Schlosberg III, president, David and Lucile Packard 
Foundation.


<DOC>
[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]
 [frwais.access.gpo.gov]
                         

[Page 1959-1964]
 
Monday, September 4, 2000
 
Volume 36--Number 35
Pages 1941-1995
 
Week Ending Friday, September 1, 2000
 
Remarks to Business Leaders in Abuja

August 27, 2000

    Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I am delighted to be here. I 
want to thank Mr. Moorman and Mr. Ndanusa and Reverend Jackson for their 
remarks. I want to thank the First Lady of Nigeria for joining us today. 
Thank you very much. I thank the members of the American delegation who 
have joined me from the United States Congress, from local government, 
the leaders of our Export-Import Bank and our AID operations, and many 
others. They're all over here to my right, and they are a part of what 
we are trying to do. And I thank the members of the Nigerian and 
American business communities for being here.
    As is usually the case when I get up to speak, everything which 
needs to be said today has already been said by the previous speakers--
[laughter]--and I might add, said very well. I would just like to talk a 
moment about the American response and what I hope will be the Nigerian 
response.
    After working so long to restore democracy and, in a way, to 
genuinely have it for the first time, there must be a dividend to 
democracy for the people of Nigeria. Now, what will the role of trade 
and investment be in that dividend? What will the role of the explosion 
in information technology be and communications on the Internet be? How 
will this totally new world change what Nigeria has been through in the 
last 30 to 40 years? And what things depend entirely on what the 
Nigerian people and business leaders decide to do themselves?
    From the 1970's to the 1990's, developing countries that chose 
growth through trade grew at least twice as fast as those that were not 
open to the world. Nonetheless, there are clearly new challenges. What 
does all this mean for you? That is what I would like to talk very 
briefly about--first, what you have to do; secondly, what we have to do.
    It really is a very different world now. For more than 100 years, 
we've been moving toward more global trade, but the information 
revolution has changed everything. In 1993, in January, when I became 
the President of the United States, there were, in total in the whole 
world, only 50--50--sites on the World Wide Web. Today, there are 20 
million or so and rising--in 7\1/2\ years.
    Even when we were having increases in trade, they were due largely 
to old, traditional sorts of things. You had oil; somebody else needed 
oil and didn't have it, so you would take it out of the ground and sell 
it to them, and they would send you the money. And the geographic facts 
dictated that. Or, you made beautiful cloth or pottery, and you sold it 
to somebody near you who made something else, and they sold that to you.
    Now, if you have ideas and imagination, the information technology 
has virtually collapsed the meaning of distance, and it's made the human 
mind and ideas even more important than riches in the ground. So what 
does that mean? What does it mean for you? What does it mean for us?
    Well, first of all, government policy still matters. So your 
government, any government of any nation that wants to grow wealthier, 
has to have the basics right--managing the economy well, keeping the 
markets open, establishing the rule of law, creating a good climate for 
investment--Reverend Jackson talked about that; President Obasanjo knows 
all that.
    Look at the record. Nigeria has turned a fiscal deficit into a 
surplus. Its growth is up, and it is moving to cut tariffs. I also hope 
it will follow through with planned economic reforms, including some 
privatization that will encourage some investment from abroad and at 
home, and improve services for Nigerian citizens.
    Now, if Nigeria does its part, then Nigeria's trading partners and 
the wealthier countries of the world, especially, must do their part, as 
well. You are America's important

[[Page 1960]]

partner, and we are your largest trading partner. So we have a special 
responsibility to act. I'm glad to announce today that we are making 
your exports eligible for duty-free treatment under our GSP program. 
[Applause] Thank you. Now, what does this mean?
    Let me say something about this. I want all of you to--in spite of 
the fact that nearly everything has been said that needs to be said, 
here's one thing that hasn't been said. Along with the political tragedy 
of the last 20 years, you have had a colossal economic tragedy. You 
pumped a lot of oil out of the ground, got a lot of money for it, and 
somebody besides the people got the benefit of it. But let me just say 
this--looking forward, that's only one part of the tragedy. That's the 
real significance of what I said about duty-free treatment. In other 
words, if no one had stolen any money, if no one had kept too much to 
himself, you could still be in trouble if you didn't use the oil money 
to get into some business other than oil. That's the main point I want 
to make to you.
    So it's important--yes, I know you have to look at the past and you 
have to have accountability and all that. But let's not get too carried 
away about the impact of the past on the future. You have got to not 
only make sure that the money coming from the oil benefits the people; 
you've got to invest some of that money in a way that broadens the 
nature of the Nigerian economy if you really want people to get richer.
    You've got to rebuild the agricultural sector. You've got to broaden 
the manufacturing sector. You can actually have dot-com companies in 
Nigeria. You can make money off the Internet here, just like people do 
everywhere. And there needs to be a lot of thought given to how you're 
going to diversify the economy. I hope the fact that you can sell us 
things now without paying imports will make it more competitive and that 
we can help.
    Our Export-Import Bank--and I mentioned Mr. Harmon earlier, who's 
here--is signing--listen to this--$1.2 billion in loan guarantees today. 
Our Trade and Development Agency is beginning a feasibility study that 
could generate projects worth hundreds of millions more.
    We also signed the Africa growth and opportunity bill earlier, and 
every Member of Congress over here voted for it, and I'm grateful to 
them for doing that. That will provide even broader benefits than our 
GSP program for countries that are eligible. When we fully implement the 
Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, Africa will have the most liberal 
access to America's market of any region in the world outside North 
America. I am very, very proud of that.
    Now, so I will say again, we're committed to doing our part. But we 
have to reverse the practice that went along with the absence of 
democracy, not only because a lot of the oil money went to the wrong 
hands, but it wasn't reinvested. You could go around and just hand money 
out to everybody in Nigeria and be just as fair and equal as possible, 
and it still would all be gone in a month or two. We have got to 
diversify this economy.
    Now, what does that mean? It means, among other things, you have to 
rebuild your infrastructure as well as a lot of your basic industries. 
Half of the people don't have access to clean water. It means that you 
have to broaden access to education; your school enrollment levels need 
to be made more nearly universal. It means you have to dramatically 
broaden access to information technology; only 9,000 people have direct 
access to the Internet.
    Let me tell you a story. I was in India, where the per capita income 
is not much higher than Nigeria, in one of the poorest states in the 
entire nation, in a little village not so very different from the lovely 
little village I visited here this morning. [Laughter] You know? And the 
ladies of the village were in their Indian costumes, and they were very 
beautiful, and they danced. The only difference was, there they threw 
petals of flowers all over me, and they buried me in a mound of flowers. 
It was nice. [Laughter]
    But anyway, I went in to meet with the local government, and I was 
stunned. In this very old building that was not in very good repair, I 
was stunned to see this brand new computer. And I met a lady who lived 
in the village who had been trained to use the computer. And I saw a 
young mother come in and get on the computer, and she dialed in

[[Page 1961]]

the information for the nation's health department. And up it came, in 
two languages, Hindu and English, with pictures of what young mothers 
should do to care properly for their babies for the first 6 months. It 
was just as good as anything the wealthiest woman in Washington, DC, 
could get from the most expensive doctor. And she punched a little 
button, and the printer printed it out, and she took the information 
home. And because there were so many pictures, even if you couldn't read 
very well, you could understand what you were supposed to do.
    I went to another state in India, and every citizen could get a 
license for a car or any other kind of government permit over the 
Internet at common stations in all their cities, so that people learn to 
use the Internet who never would have learned to use it before just so 
they didn't have to go stand in line at a government office.
    The point I'm trying to make here is, it's not true that poor people 
in poor countries can't make their lives better or make more money out 
of information technology or can't have access to better education. It 
is not true. You should look at this as an opportunity to move faster by 
maybe 10, 20, 30 years than you could have moved otherwise with your 
economic development. But you've got to spread it out. You've got to do 
what is now called--you have to bridge the digital divide. And we have 
to help you do that.
    Now, I agree that we should help you with the debt burden, as long 

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