George W Bush, former US President has another side of him that the public rarely seem or noticed. On Saturday of April 5th he shown his exhibitions of the painting of 24 world political leaders and heads of state including three African presidents that he shared the world stage during his tenure.
Olusegun Obasanjo and John Kufuor, former presidents of Nigeria and Ghana together with the current Liberian president,Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Rwandan President Paul Kagame were painted by the former US President, George W Bush, who insisted that he is "not a great painter". But that maybe an understatement because the paints were anything but sophisticated and enrichly captivating.
Bush said that his inspiration came from, Winston Churchill that war prime minister of Britain during Second World War who picked up the painting after political life.
Former president of the United States of America, Mr George Bush who spoke at Access Bank Leadership Conference in Lagos was the guest speaker. The theme of the yearly Access Bank conference ‘Embracing sustainable leadership’ was held in Lagos, Nigeria on Thursday. The former president spoke to the crowd of over 3, 000 delegates and Nigerians on the pressing issues of corruption elimination and tax incentives for sustainable economic growth.
Bush said, “As president of the most powerful country in the world, I had cause to sanction senior office holders on account of corruption and they faced justice. All corrupt public officers must be brought to justice, however powerful. Nigerian leaders have to be bold against corruption, as a leader you must surround yourself with people who know better than you do and you must trust their decisions.
This principle helped me succeed as a president, particularly in taking far reaching decisions during the economic crisis in the United States and the war against terror in Iraq and Afghanistan executed during his tenure. You have to respect your advisers because they know what you don’t know.”
The former president emphasized on clarity of purpose and addenda. His words: “to have clear rules that are enforceable without prejudice and also hold government accountable to the people so that it can assure that the people’s money would be protected by the law.”
On tax inventive, Bush said, “I believe it is important to make sure that the role of the public sector versus private sector is balanced. When I was president, I felt it was important to invigorate the private sector. In my country, most of the jobs were created by small businesses. Many small businesses were incorporated as limited partnerships or entities that pay individual tax rates. Therefore, dropping individual income tax rates will increase private sector growth.
Bush recommended an incentive driven economic policy and said, “I think it is important not to over tax capital investors but to reward them.”
It does not happen often, but five living American presidents recently gathered in Dallas, Texas to dedicate George W. Bush presidential Library. Political and ideological differences notwithstanding, there was a resounding conclusion that George W. Bush policy on Africa was most effective and generous especially his endeavor to combat HIV/AIDS crisis and signing peace treaty in Sudan.
When most people do contemplate on which American president is the best and true friend of Africa. I bet you, Obama and Clinton will probably come to their mind; the last person they that might think of is George W. Bush, the 43rd president of America. People may find it hard to accept that a Republican Party president was the one that extended a helping hand to Africa at the darkest and heighten period of AIDS/HIV crisis. The recorded history was the testament to the uncommon generosity offered by George Bush who persuaded the US Congress to fund AIDS relief to combat African greatest health crisis.
At the apogee of AIDS epidemic in Sub-Sahara Africa, due to poverty and inadequate medical and health facilities to manage the AIDS crisis, millions of Africans were dying. Therefore it became imperative that the rising AIDS threat to the continent must be combated before it assumed an explosive dimension and reaches a point of no return. And that was when Bush came to the rescue and joined the fight to daunt the rising tide of AIDS crisis in the world.
In 2003, President George W. Bush lunched “President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).” A relief fund to fight HIV/AIDS around the world including Africa where AIDS have devastating and debilitating effects on the people. Bush urged United States Congress to committee $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) to fight and combat the deadly disease.
Again in 2005, former President George W. Bush lunched another program known as Malaria Initiative. A five year commitment of $1.2 billion was set aside to combat malaria disease in 15 African countries where malaria has done the greatest damage to lives and wellbeing.
According to UNICEF, “Malaria is the leading cause of mortality among children under the age of five in this West African nation Malaria still kills 660,000 people every year, most of them African children. Insecticide-treated bed nets are critical to eliminating deaths from malaria—one of the leading killers of children in the world says UNICEF on World Malaria Day. The number of bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa has increased to 145 million thanks to bulk buying, joint procurement, financing and extending manufacturing capacity. Since 2000, 1.1 million lives have been saved from malaria, and malaria mortality rates in Africa have declined by one-third.”
Bush made one of the greatest attempts to hold back AIDS crisis. He was pragmatic and generous, without giving a lip service to the emerging calamity in the continent. Bush was thorough a compassionate person, he did not intellectualize nor become philosophical, rather he quickly acted to save a generation of people that AIDS would have wasted and annihilated.
Former President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Bush favorable African policy. When it comes to helping the poor and needy around the world including Africa, Carter is not a stranger in that area. Carter is authentic and has the credentials on building houses, providing health care and relief assistances to the poor and needy. Carter’s words are trustworthy and bankable; at the dedication of George W. Bush Library, former President Carter paid a glowing tribute to George W. Bush for his effectiveness and compassionate role in Africa:
“In 2000, there was a disputed election for several weeks and finally when President Bush became president they had the inauguration in Washington on schedule. I think my wife and I were the only volunteer Democrats on the platform. ..
The worst problem now is the war going on between North and South Sudan, and millions of people have been killed and I would like for you to help us have a peace treaty there. In a weak moment, he said I'll do it. He said well, I haven't even chosen them yet, but give us three weeks. Three weeks later, I came up. President Bush kept his promise. He appointed John Danforth and a great general from Kenya. In January of 2005, there was a peace treaty between north and south Sudan that ended a war that had been going on for 20 years. George W. Bush is responsible for that.
That was the first of his great contributions to the countries in Africa. As has already been mentioned, he increased his assistance to Africa until the time he went into office to more than $90 billion. That's an increase of 640 percent. That is development assistance. He established a program. There was 6,000 people being treated for HIV. Two million when he left office. At this new institute he has a program called pick ribbon and red ribbon. That is something that is dear to my heart and I know means a lot to millions of people in Africa. I am filled with admiration for you and deep gratitude for you. Thank you very much. “
Former President Bill Clinton said “I want to thank President Bush for passing PEPFAR. No president of my party could have passed that through the Congress, I have personally seen the faces of some of the millions of people who are alive today because of it.”
As of July 2012, former President George W. Bush visited Zambia and Botswana with his wife, former first lady Laura Bush to promote health initiative on treatment and prevention of cervical and breast cancer.
Bob Geldof, the musician turned social activist of Live 8 Concerts have in the past lavish praises on George Bush for his decisiveness in Africa, his words: "I read it has been incompetent - but not in Africa. It has created bitterness - but not here in Africa. Here, his administration has saved millions of lives."
While Bono an activist, the front man of musical group U2, spoke about Bush contribution in combating AIDS: “It’s incredible; it’s incredible what George Bush’s— President Bush’s name is in the history books. His name is in the front foreword of a book that’s written on the end of AIDS.” In another occasion Bono said to a crowd, “I know that’s hard for you to accept but George kind of knocked it out of the park. I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you that America now has five million people being kept alive by these drugs. That’s something that everyone should know.”
Before George Bush intervention, many of his African counterparts were struggling on how to cope with the health crisis. Some African leaders were giving the best they can to combat the disease but lack of fund and health facilities made it nearly impossible to hold back the surging disease.
Poverty was and continues to be greatest barrier to fighting AIDS in Africa. Poverty translates into lack of information and education which are the cornerstones for winning the battle against the deadly disease and saving lives. Indifference among some African leaders played a detrimental role in the consequential explosion of AIDS. These leaders were busy mismanaging resources and siphoning money abroad, as their people were suffering and dying. And it took an outsider without a personal or strategic interest to intervene and saved lives in Africa.
It is important to remember this great dispensation of helping hand that he aided to turn the tide in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. No one is saying that the battle against the crisis has been won, but the emergency fund from Bush’s America was successful in laying the foundation for the war against the disease.
Former President George W. Bush was not obligated to offer a helping hand but he did it anyway. What we can acknowledge here was that he did something extraordinary without expecting anything in return. For this act of great compassion, Africa is grateful and without doubt George W. Bush was and continues to be a true friend of Africa. Thank You! Mr. President.
Emeka Chiakwelu, is Analyst and Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library dedication brought together five living presidents who have been at odds about much of the 43rd president’s foreign policy legacy, particularly the Iraq war. But they all agreed on, and offered effusive praise for, Bush’s work on Africa.
From the historic peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan in 2005, to Bush’s work on HIV/AIDS and malaria, all the presidents, regardless of party, thanked No. 43 for his involvement in African policies and issues.
Jimmy Carter — who now runs the Carter Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight for human rights, conflict resolution and global health in the world’s most impoverished countries — laid out Bush’s accomplishments, including increasing aid to the continent by more than 640% by the time he left office.
“Mr. President, let me say that I’m filled with admiration for you and deep gratitude for you about the great contributions you’ve made to the most needy people on Earth,” said Carter.
At more than $5 billion a year in humanitarian aid to Africa, President Bush has given more assistance to the continent than any other president. His administration’s aid was largely targeted to fight the major global health issues facing the continent, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
In 2003 Bush founded the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which guaranteed $15 million to be spent over the course of five years on prevention, treatment and research on HIV/AIDS. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. was also a leader in contributing to the Global Fund on AIDS.
Though there was controversy over some of the qualifications for PEPFAR funds –up to 20% was to be spent on abstinence-focused prevention programs, and the funds could not be used for needle-sharing programs — most HIV/AIDS activists credit the program for being instrumental in turning the tide on AIDS.
Before PEPFAR, an estimated 100,000 people were on anti-retroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. By the time Bush left office in 2008 that number had increased to about 2 million.
In 2005 Bush started a $1.2 billion initiative to fight malaria. He defended the request for funding in 2007, saying, “There’s no reason for little babies to be dying of mosquito bites around the world.”
At Thursday’s ceremony, President Clinton said in his travels throughout Africa he had “personally seen the faces of some of the millions of people who are alive today” because of Bush’s policies.
Even some of Bush’s most ardent critics have admitted that his foreign policy legacy on Africa continues to have a lasting effect.
U2 front-man and activist Bono, who criticized Bush on the Iraq War, nonetheless expressed his admiration for the Republican president on an appearance on the Daily Show last year, telling Stewart that Bush did an “amazing” job in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
“I know that’s hard for you to accept,” Bono said to a surprised crowd and host, “but George kind of knocked it out of the park. I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you that America now has 5 million people being kept alive by these drugs. That’s something that everyone should know.”
Since leaving office the former president and his wife, Laura, have continued to stay active in global health issues in Africa, now taking on cancer. The George W. Bush Institute has launched the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative to try and bring together both public and private investment to fight cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America. The couple launched the program on a visit to Zambia and Bostwana in July of last year.
Bush, clad in a T-shirt and jeans, painted and hauled lumber at the Ngungu Health Center in Kabwe, about 90 miles north of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. The center will start screening and treating women Tuesday for cervical cancer and pre-cancer.
Zambia daily mail
In a photo provided by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former U.S. President George W. Bush uses a roller to the paint the highest parts of the walls of the Ngungu Health Center on Sunday, July 1, 2012, in Kabwe, Zambia, Africa. The former president and his wife, Laura, are in Africa to promote a partnership between the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, UNAIDS and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, that aims to fight cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/George W. Bush Presidential Center, Shealah Craighead)
In a photo provided by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, local community residents and members of The Bush Center staff work to restore the Ngungu Health Center on Sunday, July 1, 2012, in Kabwe, Zambia, Africa. Former President George We. Bush and his wife, Laura, are in Africa to promote a partnership between the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, UNAIDS and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, that aims to fight cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/George W. Bush Presidential Center, Shealah Craighead)
The former president and his wife, Laura, are in Africa to promote a partnership between the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, UNAIDS and Susan G. Komen for the Cure that aims to fight cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center says the Bushes arrived in Africa over the weekend.