President Muhammadu Buhari will arrive France Monday morning on a three-day state visit to the European country, with security, anti-corruption, loot recovery and economic issues topping his agenda of discussion with President Francois Hollande.
In an exclusive interview with THISDAY last night, the Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu said Buhari would also engage his French counterpart on how to strengthen cooperation in other areas like culture and job creation.
According to the President’s itinerary obtained exclusively last night, Buhari will also hold meetings with French politicians, businessmen and the Nigerian community during the visit.
Garba explains further: “There are challenges with security in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Most of the countries surrounding us are French speaking and are also affected by the crisis. This is why we are seeking the assistance of France. We are seeking their support in the war against terrorism in the North-east. We also need their support in the area of war against corruption. We need them to assist us in recovering stolen funds. France is a key player in Europe. Their support in these areas are vital.
“We are also seeking to strengthen areas of cooperation in business and economy. You know we have key French companies doing very well in Nigeria. Companies like Total and Lafarge have remained very loyal to Nigeria in spite of our challenges.
“We are also looking at strengthening existing cultural agreement with France, particularly in the area of teaching French language. You know that French language is now vital in global business. We need to strengthen the teaching of French language in our schools.”
Sources said the President would be travelling with an entourage made up of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongunu and the governors of Ogun, Jigawa and Zamfara states. Officials of the Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Export Promotion Council will also be on the trip.
Garba said some businessmen will also be on the trip, but would fund their expenses.
Hollande was the first foreign president to invite Buhari for a state visit shortly after he won the presidential election last March.
Hollande has played a pivotal role in the war against terrorism in Nigeria, and hosted a meeting last year of member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, which improved the collaboration between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun and Niger in the fight against Boko Haram.
Both leaders will, among other issues, be expected to exchange views on the progress made so far and further support that could be given to Nigeria to end the insurgency.