With an official entourage of 33 including his son Yusuf, President Muhammadu Buhari arrives the Joint Base Andrews Airport, Washington DC Sunday to kick start his official visit to the United States.
Apart from getting a brief on the visit from Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US Professor Ade Adefuye and his team, Buhari will have a private dinner with Madeline Albright former US Secretary of State after settling down at the historic Blair House in Pennsylvania Avenue, the first time a visiting Nigerian leader would be so honoured.
The President who is billed to hold a Town Hall meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora Tuesday will on Monday be officially welcomed at the White House starting with a breakfast meeting of five at the Naval Observatory, the official residence of the US Vice President Senator Joe Biden.
When THISDAY put a call to Adefuye on the expectations of the visit and what Nigeria stood to gain, he said the visit was strategic on many fronts because Nigeria and the US remain partners on many fronts.
According to him, the US recognises Nigeria as an emerging economic giant not just in Africa but in the global village adding this is the first time the US is inviting a newly elected African leader who has been in office for less than two months, to a state visit.
President Buhari, Adefuye said, “has what it takes to drive this emerging role of Nigeria and I am glad to receive him on this historic visit. The expectation that President Buhari will reposition the nation along the path of greatness is not misplaced.”
The importance of the visit to the US, Adefuye added, “is in the fact that the US is accommodating President Buhari at Blair House, the first of its kind for a Nigerian leader and at no expense to the country.”
Part of the high point of the visit is the long awaited lecture of Buhari at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on his last day in the US.
The institute had expected him to deliver a public lecture at the heat of the Presidential campaign in February. USIP Director of Programmes, Ms. Jennifer Cooke had envisaged an event that would attract a large audience of US policy makers, academics, business leaders, and Nigerians in the Diaspora, an expectation that has even become heightened with the President’s rising profile since his defeat of Goodluck Jonathan a sitting president and the first time this is happening in the political space of the country.
The interactive session jointly organised by USIP, National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, Centre for Strategic Studies and the Atlantic Council will offer the President an opportunity to highlight on his policy direction and the expectations in the days ahead.
The Corporate Council for Africa (CCA) which also cancelled its lunch session with Buhari will along with the US Chamber of Commerce hold an interactive dinner with the president who would also have another media chat at the Blair House, later holding talks with Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Economic Assistance Programme for the North East and other important stakeholders on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
The Blair House breakfast meeting which is restricted to five people includes the President, his host Senator Biden, the Permanent. Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Governor of Borno State; Ambassador Ade Adefuye and Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State.
The White House visit which is billed to last one hour will be followed by a media chat at the Pool Spray, a bilateral meeting with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, US Trade Representative Michael Froman with Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and his Nassarawa State counterpart in attendance
Buhari will also hold talks on corruption with Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General with Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, MFA; Director General, Nigerian Intelligence Agency and the Solicitor General of the Federation in attendance
He would later hold talks on Strengthening the Nigerian Economy with Jack Lew, US Secretary of the Treasury, with the Governor of the Central Bank Godwin Emefiele Permanent Secretary, MFA and Director General of the Budget as part of his team.
Apart from receiving in audience the US Black Caucus in the House of Representatives, Buhari will be at the Capitol Hill the equivalent of the National Assembly holding sessions with the Senate and House committees on Foreign Affairs with lunch hosted by US Secretary of State, John Kerry with Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, his Oyo State counterpart Abiola Ajimobi, Permanent Secretary MFA, Ambassador Ade Adefuye, Director-General of NIA, Permanent Secretary Trade and Investment and businessman Ismaila Funtua
After his meeting with the US Director of the CIA, the President will be host of a courtesy call from his colleagues of the Class of 1980 of the US Army War College arriving at the Nigerian Embassy for the Town Hall Meeting as well as the Meet & Greet Session by Nigerian Youths in the US with Mo Abudu moderating while meeting later in the afternoon, a group of potential investors in the agricultural sector
On Buhari’s entourage are Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, Adams Oshiomhole, Kashim Shettima, Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi, Godwin Emefiele, Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Hadi Sirika, Ambassador. Paul Bulus Z, Ambassador. Ayodele Oke, Alhaji. Aliyu Ismaila, Ambassador. A.A. Musa, Ambassador. G.B. Igali, Aliyu Yahaya Gusau, Dr. Mahmud Mohammed, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Ismaila Isa Funtua, Mr. Femi Adesina and Dr. Suhayb Sanusi Rafindadi.
Also on the entourage are Malam Garba, Mohammed Sarki, Kalu Abba-Snr, Ambassador Lawal A. Kazaure, Air Commodore N. B. Bali, Nura Rimi, Bashir Abubakar, Lt. Col. M. Lawal Abubakar, Abdulkarim Dauda, Yau Abdullahi and Sabiu Yusuf.
Others are Yusuf Maiyaki, Adamu Sambo, Emmanuel Anrihi, Bayo Omoboriowo, Baba Ujah, Lawal Mato-Snr, Gbenga Folagbade and Shehu Lawal Abubakar.